This essay argues that 4chan’s /b/ is a prime example of a new form of art some call relational aesthetics. I found the examination of the mARBLE CAKE ALSO THE GAME raid to be the most interesting part, reminding me of the ludic happenings of the 50ies, but on steroids.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The author argues that to cling to Jacob’s romantic ideal of the vibrant urban neighbourhood is futile in the face of long term economic development.
I keep digging up fascinating factoids about this strange Chinese city. Here’s another one, about village-like nodes within the city limits.
“I do hope that we always have people around us reminding us to never take the internets too seriously.” Danah Boyd makes a convincing argument that the folks at 4chan are hacking the attention economy, similar to how old school hackers were challenging security systems.
Pretty proud of the fact that Dutch games studio Ranj have won yet another award. They keep bringing it, and don’t shy away from novel formats.
Not a bad list of things to live up to as a business. I think Hubbub is in pretty good shape when it comes to these.
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:
- Cheating by the rules in Pirateball and Illuminati
- Assumption is the mother of all…
- Dwalen door de stad met een paar Jeu de Boules-ballen
Plus a video of the Bocce Drift session Hubbub ran a while back:
“the most creative environments allow for repeated failure”. Fail early, fail often. Idea scaffolding. We know these things and by the looks of things after these two books the whole world will, too.
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.
- 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. [↩]
- Tom wrote a wonderful post on games literacy. [↩]
- The Netherlands Study Centre for Technology Trends. [↩]
A pretty impressive tour of the mechanisms behind multiplayer games. The point about almost any game being multiplayer in some sense is a welcome one, too.
“several factors suggest that the impulse to make life as exciting as a game is not without a certain naivety” A discussion of a curious pervasive game with some good insight into the issues surrounding everyday reality with games.
“subtracting an hour from the life of another human being isn’t to be taken lightly. It’s almost violent. It’s certainly invasive. Shared calendars are vessels you fill by taking things away from other people” Having to combine being an entrepeneur with being a designer, making sure enough time is available for creative cycles is a real challenge.
‘De mondiale crisis dicteert ons onze levenswandel. We moeten ons leven daadwerkelijk veranderen, nieuwe levensvormen ontwikkelen, deelnemen aan ecologische en economische zelfhulpprogramma’s. We kunnen niet anders dan “doen”. Of het ons nu bevalt of niet, dat speelt geen rol meer.’ An interesting interview with philosopher Peter Sloterdijk on the social effects of the global crisis. I certainly identify with the feeling of impending doom urging one to pragmatic action, or practice as Sloterdijk calls it.
“The Evaporative Cooling Effect … occurs when the most high value contributors to a community realize that the community is no longer serving their needs any more and so therefore, leave.” Interesting observation. I recognise the behaviour from my own experiences. It is something I think we have instinctively managed to avert for This happened — Utrecht using several mechanisms. But in other cases I might need to pay special attention not to fall in its trap.
“if we can understand these game layers as a place where we’re convening rather than the place where we’re all departing from, I think there’s a lot of beautiful things still left to do” Good stuff as always from Mr. Slavin.