links for 2010-10-31

Week 175

This week, a large chunk of my time was tak­en up by the return of project Maguro. A few weeks ago, I think it was num­ber 171, we (a team of free­lance con­sul­tants put togeth­er by Demo­vides) pre­sent­ed our con­cept. It turns out the client liked this con­cept so much, they actu­al­ly want it pro­duced, pron­to. Demo­vides has asked Hub­bub to take care of all cre­ative work, which is great. I’ve been plan­ning the project, togeth­er with the oth­er folks dri­ving it, and fig­ur­ing out bud­gets and dead­lines and deliv­er­ables and so on. We should be able to send the client a pro­pos­al before the end of next week.

Anoth­er big ses­sion was devot­ed to a review of the work Hub­bub has been doing for the Learn­ing Lab. We have three games under our belt so we talked about what worked and what didn’t. And we looked ahead and came up with a plan for the next phase. In gen­er­al, we’ll be mov­ing away from prop­er games and explor­ing more sub­tle ways of intro­duc­ing rule­sets into exist­ing process­es. It’s going to be more about mak­ing game-like learn­ing tools and less about prop­er games that have sec­ond-order teach­ing effects.

On mon­day we announced This hap­pened – Utrecht #8. Rain­er Kohlberg­er, Hel­ma van Rijn, Lotte Mei­jer and my friends at Fource­Labs… it’s going to be awe­some, I am sure. Three more weeks to go. Apart from the usu­al arrange­ments, not much needs to be done for this, luck­i­ly.

Those were the high­lights of this week I guess. I did work on the Pam­pus project and on PLAY Pilots (have you seen the roundup in Eng­lish for that one, by the way?) but that’s about it.

This happened – Utrecht #8, coming up

I have to say, num­ber sev­en is still fresh in my mind. Even so, we’ve announced num­ber eight. You’ll find the line­up below. I hope to see you in four weeks, on Novem­ber 22 at the HKU Akademiethe­ater.

Theseus

Rain­er Kohlberg­er is an inde­pen­dent visu­al artist based in Berlin. The con­cept and instal­la­tion design for the THESEUS Inno­va­tion Cen­ter Inter­net of Things was done in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Thomas Schrott and is the basis for the visu­al iden­ti­ty of the tech­nol­o­gy plat­form. The instal­la­tion con­nects and visu­al­ly cre­ates hier­ar­chy between knowl­edge, prod­ucts and ser­vices with a com­bi­na­tion of phys­i­cal poly­gon objects and vir­tu­al­ly pro­ject­ed infor­ma­tion lay­ers. This atmos­pher­ic piece trans­fer knowl­edge and guid­ance to the vis­i­tor but also leaves room for inter­pre­ta­tion.

De Klessebessers

Hel­ma van Rijn is an Indus­tri­al Design Engi­neer­ing PhD can­di­date at the TU Delft ID-Stu­di­o­Lab, spe­cial­ized in ‘dif­fi­cult to reach’ user groups. De Klessebessers is an activ­i­ty for peo­ple with demen­tia to active­ly recall mem­o­ries togeth­er. The design won the first prize in design com­pe­ti­tion Vergeethen­ni­et and was on show dur­ing the Dutch Design Week 2007. De Klessebessers is cur­rent­ly in use at De Lan­dri­jt in Eind­hoven.

Wip 'n' Kip

Fource­Labs talk about Wip ‘n’ Kip, a play­ful instal­la­tion for Stekker Fest, an annu­al elec­tron­ic music fes­ti­val based in Utrecht. Play­ers of Wip ‘n’ Kip use adult-sized spring rid­ers to con­trol a chick­en on a large screen. They race each oth­er to the fin­ish while at the same time try­ing to stay ahead of a horde of pur­su­ing mon­sters. Wip ‘n’ Kip is a strange but effec­tive mashup of video game, car­ni­val ride and per­for­mance. It is part of the PLAY Pilots project, com­mis­sioned by the city and province of Utrecht, which explore the appli­ca­tions of play in the cul­tur­al indus­try.

Smarthistory

Lotte Mei­jer talks about Smarthis­to­ry, an online art his­to­ry resource. It aims to be an addi­tion to, or even replace­ment of, tra­di­tion­al text books through the use of dif­fer­ent media to dis­cuss hun­dreds of West­ern art pieces from antiq­ui­ty to the cur­rent day. Dif­fer­ent brows­ing styles are sup­port­ed by a num­ber of nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems. Art works are con­tex­tu­al­ized using maps and time­lines. The site’s com­mu­ni­ty is engaged using a num­ber of social media. Smarthis­to­ry won a Web­by Award in 2009 in the edu­ca­tion cat­e­go­ry. Lotte has gone on to work as an inde­pen­dent design­er on many inter­est­ing and inno­v­a­tive projects in the art world.

links for 2010-10-25

Week 174

STT again

This week on Wednes­day I found myself in the love­ly KNAW build­ing to talk about the far future of applied game design. I was invit­ed to do so by STT, togeth­er with David Shaf­fer, Jeroen van Mas­trigt and Jeroen Elf­ferich. I talked about the inca­pac­i­ty of design as well as sci­ence fic­tion to effec­tive­ly imag­ine a future, how to deal with that as a design­er, and two areas that I see as tru­ly vir­gin ter­ri­to­ry for applied game design: the new type of city we’ve seen emerge in the East, and syn­thet­ic biol­o­gy. I got some nice respons­es and some chal­leng­ing ques­tions from the crowd, so I guess things went OK. The anno­tat­ed slides will find their way to the Hub­bub blog soon.

Aside from this, I spent the week work­ing on PLAY Pilots — con­tin­u­ing work on the next pilot for Le Guess Who? togeth­er with Monoban­da. And at the HKU, work­ing with my stu­dents on the Pam­pus project. Final­ly, my interns have kicked off their third game at the Learn­ing Lab, this one run­ning on their inter­nal blog plat­form. It involves mon­keys and a blind drag­on. Look­ing for­ward to the write­up for that one.

Quite a few bits of con­tent found their way online too, by the way. In case you missed them the first time around, here they are:

Plus a video of the Boc­ce Drift ses­sion Hub­bub ran a while back:

Week 173

At the stu­dio, cof­fee brew­ing in the french press, El Guin­cho on the stereo. Last week I felt over­whelmed, this week I just feel aller­gic. Lit­er­al­ly. I have a head full of anti­his­t­a­mines, hope they kick in soon.

One thing I decid­ed to do about the over­whelm­ing bit is block out more time in my cal­en­dar for work. Not say­ing how much, but I already had some time blocked for a while now, and I have dou­bled that. It just won’t do to have hard­ly any time to do actu­al design. I guess I’ll just need to to talk to few­er peo­ple. If you do not push back, it is easy to lose all your time to meet-ups. Peo­ple are reck­less in the ease with which they impose on other’s time. Myself includ­ed.1

We played a card game last night at the stu­dio. An insight I’ve had after review­ing the past peri­od with my interns. To become bet­ter design­ers, we need to make a lot of games, this is true.2 But it also helps to play games, many games, of any kind. So we’ll set apart an hour or so each week and we’ll play a game that some­one brings in. I kicked it off with Domin­ion, which is inter­est­ing for the way it has built upon trad­ing-card-game deck-build­ing mechan­ics, like Mag­ic the Gath­er­ing. In stead of it being some­thing that hap­pens before a game it takes place in par­al­lel to the game.

What else is of note? Ah yes. I attend­ed Design by Fire 2010 on Wednes­day. It is still the best con­fer­ence on inter­ac­tion design in the Nether­lands. And I real­ly appre­ci­ate the fact that the orga­niz­ers con­tin­ue to take risks with who they put on stage. Too often do I feel like being part or at least spec­ta­tor of some clique at events, with all speak­ers know­ing each oth­er and com­ing from more or less the same “school of thought”. Not so with Design by Fire. High­lights includ­ed David McCan­d­less, Andrei Herasim­chuk, m’colleague Ianus and of course Bill Bux­ton.

The lat­ter also remind­ed me of some use­ful frames of thought for next Tues­day, when I will need to spend around half an hour talk­ing about the future of games, from a design per­spec­tive, at an invi­ta­tion-only think-tank like ses­sion orga­nized by STT.3 The orga­niz­ers asked me to set an ambi­tion time frame, but as you may know I have a very hard time imag­in­ing any future beyond say, the next year or two. (And some­times I also have trou­ble being hope­ful about it.) But as Mr. Bux­ton points out, ideas need a ges­ta­tion peri­od of around 20 years before they are ready for prime­time, so I am plan­ning to look back some ten years, see what occu­pied the games world back then, and use that as a jump­ing off point for what­ev­er I’ll be talk­ing about. Let’s get start­ed on that now.

  1. Mule Design had an inter­est­ing post on this. Part of the prob­lem is peo­ple, but part also soft­ware, accord­ing to them. Imag­ine a cal­en­dar you sub­tract time from in stead of add to. []
  2. Tom wrote a won­der­ful post on games lit­er­a­cy. []
  3. The Nether­lands Study Cen­tre for Tech­nol­o­gy Trends. []

links for 2010-10-13