Week 148

So, the first full week of work­ing in Copen­hagen is behind me. I’ve most­ly been work­ing from our apart­ment in Nør­re­bro. Which is fine for now but I am look­ing for­ward to get­ting out more, and maybe doing some cowork­ing here and there. Would­n’t want to turn into a real her­mit here.

Let me have a look at my cal­en­dar, what’s been going on? 

Ah, so I had a meet­ing with Mar­tin and Andreas of Social Square (at the very charm­ing Gra­nola, where they serve very tasty mixed juices, by the way). We’ll be doing a mul­ti­ple day work­shop to look at their design process and dis­cov­er ways to use play as a tool for work­ing with clients. The ses­sion is sched­uled to take place in a few weeks. I just need to devel­op a more detailed plan for the session.

Nordic Game Indie Night

I crossed the Øre­sund on tues­day evening to attend the Nordic Game Indie Night, which was orga­nized by the Copen­hagen Game Col­lec­tive (whose Dark­room Sex Game I’ve blogged about here before). There were six games on dis­play, all from Scan­di­na­vian cre­ators. There was free beer. And there were a few talks, of vast­ly dif­fer­ing depth and enter­tain­ment val­ue. The set­up was nice though: the games’ cre­ators talked about each oth­ers work. The only prob­lem was that many weren’t very artic­u­late, and shied away from actu­al­ly crit­i­ciz­ing games. Some, though, like the guys from D‑Pad Stu­dio, real­ly took the time to ana­lyze a game on dif­fer­ent lev­els. Oth­ers, like Cac­tus, seemed more inter­est­ed in drink­ing beer. How­ev­er, Cac­tus’s game Tun­ing was my favorite of the bunch, for its sheer mind-fuck awesomeness.

Apart from this, I’ve con­tin­ued work on Layar, had anoth­er round of men­tor­ing chats with my stu­dents and made some more prepa­ra­tions for This hap­pened – Utrecht #6. We opened reg­is­tra­tion for the lat­ter on mon­day, by the way, and were ful­ly booked in 58 sec­onds (and had some serv­er wonk­i­ness in the process). Crazy, crazy stuff.

links for 2010-04-28

  • “a mul­ti-play­er spell duel­ing game designed for the phys­i­cal game con­trollers. The game lets play­ers sling spells at one anoth­er in a game of dex­ter­i­ty and strat­e­gy. Using their con­troller as a wand, play­ers draw flu­id, emer­gent ges­tures – in their own per­son­al style – to charge up spells of dif­fer­ent mag­ic types. But unlike many oth­er ges­tur­al con­sole games, Tryl push­es play­ers to look at each oth­er, rather than at the screen. To suc­ceed, play­ers must “read” their oppo­nent and time their spells care­ful­ly.” That sounds pret­ty rad.

links for 2010-04-24

Week 147

Well, the vol­cano did mess with my flight. Despite that, I am still writ­ing this from an apart­ment on Birkegade in CPH, where I’ll be spend­ing the com­ing 5–6 weeks. Here’s what my work­space looks like:

What my CPH work space looks like at the moment

Trav­el­ing here took up the whole of wednes­day. We went by train; Utrecht to Duis­burg, Duis­burg to Ham­burg, Ham­burg to Copen­hagen. They put our train on a freak­ing boat for a bit. That was different.

So I’ve been set­tling in. Get­ting a bike, recon­nect­ing to old haunts, that sort of thing (I was here for a year in 2007–2008).

Apart from that, I’ve been tak­ing care of some last bits of work for Layar, doing some prep for This hap­pened – Utrecht #6 (reg­is­tra­tion opens Mon­day!) and talk­ing to my HKU stu­dents. I also had a first meet­ing with a group of Medi­aL­AB Ams­ter­dam stu­dents who are cre­at­ing a play­ful urban pro­jec­tion for ISEA2010 in Dortmund.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a city to explore.

links for 2010-04-23

  • “…we’re going to encounter a bunch of crap­py sor­ta-games foist­ed on us. Those rudi­men­ta­ry game schemes are going to be rolled out by every­one with a rewards card, CRM sys­tem, loy­al­ty scheme or some­thing that can be plot­ted on a graph. And they’re going to be no fun.” I agree with Rus­sell that the game­poca­lypse runs the risk of being incred­i­bly bor­ing if peo­ple keep focus­ing on stick­ing a reward sys­tem on a mun­dane activ­i­ties. At the core of any good game is an inter­est­ing activ­i­ty, so we should be think­ing about those, the many kinds of expe­ri­ences peo­ple have and how those can be turned into games. Rewards are noth­ing more than feed­back, and feed­back can take on many forms, so let’s see if we can come up with things oth­er than a score or a badge, shall we?
  • “If you’re run­ning a city, though, there’s stuff here you prob­a­bly ought to be pay­ing atten­tion to. The mes­sage is that in the long run you’re clear­ly bet­ter off under­writ­ing a vibrant ecosys­tem of [cowork­ing spaces] than shelling out one tax break after anoth­er in the hopes of entic­ing (or retain­ing) cor­po­rate head­quar­ters.” How­ev­er much I am a fan of cowork­ing, it does not work well for many cre­ative activ­i­ties which require a prop­er stu­dio space where one can phys­i­cal­ly engage with materials.

Announcing This happened – Utrecht #6

Last week we announced the sixth edi­tion of This hap­pened – Utrecht. The pro­gram was up on our Dutch site already, here’s the pro­gram in Eng­lish (soon avail­able on our inter­na­tion­al .org site, too). As always I am very excit­ed about the line-up. Can’t wait to hear what sto­ries these peo­ple have to share about their work. Doors open on Mon­day 10 May at 7:30PM. The reg­is­tra­tion starts on Mon­day 26 April at 12:00PM. See you there!

Keez Duyves is one of the cofounders of PIPS:lab, based in Ams­ter­dam, NL. Archie and the Bees, their newest the­atri­cal con­cept, links the pri­ma­ry col­ors red, green and blue to the pri­ma­ry ele­ments of rhythm: kick, snare and hi-hat. In this hybrid of mul­ti­me­dia per­for­mance and instal­la­tion, PIPS:lab demon­strate their rev­o­lu­tion­ary Radar­funk machine — allow­ing them to gen­er­ate sound from col­or. A light paint­ing or the col­ors in the audi­ence serve as musi­cal basis over which PIPS:lab impro­vise and amaze with their oth­er self-devel­oped instru­ments: the Bash­blender, the Grinder and the LCDC video guitar.

Matt Cot­tam is the founder of Tel­lart. Wood­en Log­ic rep­re­sents the first phase in a hands-on sketch­ing process aimed at explor­ing how nat­ur­al mate­ri­als and craft tra­di­tions can be brought to the cen­ter of inter­ac­tive dig­i­tal design to give mod­ern prod­ucts greater longevi­ty and mean­ing. It is only in the past decade or so that the com­mu­ni­ty and tools have evolved to the point that design­ers can sketch with hard­ware and soft­ware; which before that was the sole domain of engi­neers and com­put­er sci­en­tists. This project seeks to com­bine seem­ing­ly dis­so­nant ele­ments, nat­ur­al, mate­r­i­al and vir­tu­al, and explore how they can be craft­ed to feel as if they were born togeth­er as parts of a uni­fied object anato­my that is both sin­gu­lar and precious.

San­neke Prins and Berend Weij are co-founders of Mijn naam is Haas, a com­pa­ny that pro­duces a range of edu­ca­tion­al prod­ucts aimed at pri­ma­ry edu­ca­tion. These prod­ucts are all sit­u­at­ed in the world of the main char­ac­ter Haas. The range con­sists of illus­trat­ed chil­dren’s books, CD-ROMs and an online learn­ing envi­ron­ment, in which the vocab­u­lary of tod­dlers is increased through game prin­ci­ples. Chil­dren cre­ate the world of haas by draw­ing. All draw­ing actions direct­ly influ­ence the unfold­ing sto­ry, so each play ses­sion is unique which makes the game con­tin­u­ous­ly engag­ing. In this cre­ative process lan­guage ele­ments are pre­sent­ed in a play­ful man­ner. The first ver­sion of the game was cre­at­ed by the founders dur­ing their atten­dance of the EMMA pro­gram at the HKU.

Sebas­ti­aan de With is an inter­face and icon design­er work­ing under the name Cocoia. He designs, teach­es and runs a pop­u­lar blog on inter­faces and icons. Sebas­ti­aan is eas­i­ly rec­og­nized in Dracht­en wear­ing his Explod­ed Set­tings Icon or Bricky shirt and tot­ing an iPad. Clas­sics is one of the first pop­u­lar e‑readers on the iPhone, offer­ing pub­lic domain books in a well-designed expe­ri­ence. The project was ini­ti­at­ed by the Phill Ryu, (in)famous for MacHeist and his sup­port of the Deli­cious Gen­er­a­tion. Clear­ly the Clas­sics app is a feat of design dri­ven devel­op­ment, com­plete with an inspired wood­en book­shelf, curl­ing page turns (both now also avail­able on the iPad), mar­velous icons and a col­lec­tion of lov­ing­ly designed book covers.

We would­n’t be able to pull off this edi­tion with the sup­port of the Utrecht School of the Arts and Microsoft Design Tool­box. Thank you!

Week 146

Crazy, crazy week I am glad to have sur­vived. But wait, it’s not done yet. Tomor­row (sat­ur­day) I’ll be run­ning a work­shop in Lei­d­sche Rijn with local young folk, for Cultuur19. The aim is to design a lit­tle social game that’ll func­tion as a viral mar­ket­ing tac­tic for our upcom­ing urban games design work­shop in the same dis­trict. This is a Hub­bub mis­sion, and I am glad to have the sup­port of Karel who — besides cook­ing up crazy plans at Fource­Labs — is an occa­sion­al agent of Hubbub.

This was my last week work­ing on site with Layar because I’m head­ing to Copen­hagen on sun­day. I’ll be stay­ing there for a few weeks, work­ing there — for Layar still, pos­si­bly for Social Square — lec­tur­ing at CIID and apart from that just tak­ing it a lit­tle slow­er. My apart­ment is around the cor­ner from the Laun­dro­mat Café in Nør­re­bro so that should be no problem.

I was at Waag Soci­ety’s beau­ti­ful The­atrum Anatomicum last wednes­day to cohost a work­shop on games and archi­tec­ture as part of the Best Scene in Town project ini­ti­at­ed by 7scenes. I pre­sent­ed three bold pre­dic­tions for the future of games in the city. Look for a write-up of that one at the Hub­bub blog soon. The teams came up with inter­est­ing con­cepts for games in Ams­ter­dam and I enjoyed work­ing with all of them.

Going back to the start of this week, I turned 30 on mon­day. A water­shed moment of some sort I guess. Some­what appro­pri­ate­ly, we announced This hap­pened – Utrecht #6 that day too. Check out the pro­gram, I am real pleased with our speakers. 

Now let’s just hope that vol­cano does­n’t mess with my flight in sun­day and the next note will be com­ing to you from love­ly CPH.

links for 2010-04-09