Work now so you can play later

There’s a lot going on at the Leapfrog stu­dio, which explains at least in part why things have gone qui­et around here. How­ev­er, I want­ed to take the time to alert you to some upcom­ing events that might be of inter­est.

An urban game in the Rotterdam city center

On Sun­day Sep­tem­ber 27 around 50 young peo­ple will play an urban game I designed for Your World — Rot­ter­dam Euro­pean Youth Cap­i­tal 2009.1 It is part of a two-day event called Change Your World, which enables groups of youth to set up a new ‘move­ment’ with finan­cial sup­port and advice from pro­fes­sion­als. You might want to hang around the Rot­ter­dam city cen­ter dur­ing the day, to wit­ness what is sure to be an inter­est­ing spec­ta­cle. More info should show up soon enough at the Your World web­site.

A pervasive game in the Hoograven neighborhood of Utrecht

Around the same time, from Sep­tem­ber 18 to Octo­ber 11, you’ll be able to play Kop­pelkiek in the Hoograven area of Utrecht. This is a game I’ve cre­at­ed for the Dutch Design Dou­ble pro­gram.2 To play, you take pho­tos of your­self with oth­ers in a range of sit­u­a­tions and upload them to the game’s web­site. It’s designed to sub­tly per­me­ate your dai­ly life. With the help of our play­ers we’re hop­ing to cre­ate a col­lec­tion of pho­tos that pro­vide a unique look into life in the neigh­bor­hood. Do join in if you’re in the area. Also, we’ll have a playtest on Sep­tem­ber 16. If you’re inter­est­ed in play­ing a round or two, drop me a line.3

Data visualizations of silence

I’m wrap­ping up some data visu­al­iza­tion work I’ve done for the artist Sarah van Sons­beeck.4 Sarah’s work revolves (amongst oth­er things) around the con­cept of silence. Alper and I took a dataset she gen­er­at­ed dur­ing a few of her ‘silence walks’ using a GPS track­er and a sound lev­el meter and cre­at­ed a num­ber of sta­t­ic visu­al­iza­tions in Pro­cess­ing. Some of the out­put can be seen at the exhi­bi­tion Een Dijk van een Kust. More will prob­a­bly be on dis­play at anoth­er occa­sion. Also, I’ve learnt some new tricks that I intend to share here soon.

What else, what else…

  • I’m still mean­ing to write some­thing up about the work that went into Mega Mon­ster Bat­tle Are­na™ but it will have to wait. I attend­ed two of the three shows and enjoyed both through­ly. There’s some pho­tos up at the opera’s web­site.
  • We’re in the process of fin­ish­ing up the This hap­pened – Utrecht #3 videos. Once they’re all done we’ll add them to the event’s page on the .org site along with the slides. Plan­ning for our fourth event has already start­ed. Mark your cal­en­dar for Octo­ber 26 and sub­scribe to our newslet­ter so you won’t miss the registration’s open­ing.
  • And final­ly, I’m slow­ly but sure­ly giv­ing shape to a new ven­ture which will focus on the use of play in pub­lic space to effect social change. Its name is Hub­bub. The crazy design­ers at BUROPONY are devel­op­ing a sweet brand iden­ti­ty and a first place­hold­er site is up. Stay tuned for more news on that.

That’s about it for now, thanks for your atten­tion. I promise to pro­vide con­tent with more meat and less self-pro­mo­tion in upcom­ing posts.

  1. Karel Mil­lenaar, game design­er extra­or­di­naire at Fource­Labs and a fel­low res­i­dent of the Dutch Game Gar­den, has helped me out on this one. []
  2. I’ve asked Tij­men Schep of Pinep­ple­Jazz, NetNiet.org and the new Utrecht medi­al­ab to be my part­ner on this one. []
  3. Around the same time a lot of oth­er inter­est­ing stuff relat­ed to design and soci­ety will be going on, such as the third edi­tion of Utrecht Man­i­fest, the bien­ni­al for social design. []
  4. I was turned on to this gig by the ubiq­ui­tous Alper Çuğun. []

GDC and another interview

This Sat­ur­day I’ll be jump­ing on a plane to San Fran­cis­co. As men­tioned ear­li­er, I’ll be attend­ing the Game Devel­op­ers Con­fer­ence. I have a ses­sion at the GDC Mobile sub-con­fer­ence ele­gant­ly titled “Design­ing a Casu­al Social Gam­ing Expe­ri­ence for Gen­er­a­tion C”. Read more about my ses­sion on the con­fer­ence site. It’ll basi­cal­ly be 1/3 crash course on the social web, 1/3 rant on mobile gam­ing and 1/3 talk about enabling cre­ative expres­sion through games. We’ll see how it goes.

I’ll be in SF the full week (fly­ing back the next week­end) so if you hap­pen to be around, and feel like hang­ing out, do drop me a line. (Your best bet is an email to “kars” at this domain or d-ing me on Twit­ter.)

Final­ly, if that isn’t enough self-pro­mo­tion for one post, (I’m risk­ing a mass unsub­scribe here) I was inter­viewed a sec­ond time for the Playy­oo blog. Head over there for some talk about the Game Creator—a tool I designed for them that allows peo­ple to cus­tomise clas­sic games and pub­lish them to mobile:

And then there are the games that are entire­ly per­son­al. They make no sense to you or me, only to the per­son who cre­at­ed it and their friends. For exam­ple, I saw one vari­a­tion of Lunar Lan­der where you need to land a crab on someone’s, let’s say Debbie’s, head. Now, I have no idea who Deb­bie is, but I can imag­ine Deb­bie is a friend or sis­ter of the game’s cre­ator. And it must have been a lot of fun for them to include the pic­ture, and then have an easy way to dis­trib­ute it to their friends.”

I was interviewed for the Playyoo blog

I was interviewed by Playyoo the other day

Most of you will prob­a­bly know I’m involved1 with this new mobile game com­mu­ni­ty called Playy­oo. I haven’t blogged about it here explic­it­ly because most of my con­tri­bu­tions so far are still being devel­oped and will hope­ful­ly hit the inter­net around Decem­ber. I have an excuse to talk about it now though, because recent­ly I was inter­viewed by the peo­ple of Playy­oo for their blog. Read about my thoughts on the role of social­i­ty in (mobile) gam­ing and how that will work in Playyoo’s meta-game, as well as what I think about casu­al games and the unique game design oppor­tu­ni­ties for mobile.

A quote from the inter­view:

What does the term ‘casu­al game’ mean to you?

‘Casu­al,’ to me, says some­thing about the lev­el of atten­tion and engage­ment that a play­er has (or is required to have) with the game. For me as a design­er, casu­al games pro­vide inter­est­ing chal­lenges. It might seem sim­ple to cre­ate these casu­al games, but they’re actu­al­ly quite tricky to pull off, or pull off well, that is. From a game design per­spec­tive, I think it’s more chal­leng­ing to pull off a high qual­i­ty causal game than yet anoth­er first-per­son shoot­er game.

Read the rest of the inter­view over at the Playy­oo blog.2

  1. They’ve hired me to do game and inter­ac­tion design. I have been work­ing on mobile games, a game cre­ation tool, and a web-based meta-game. []
  2. Thanks to Alper Çuǧun for the pho­to that’s in the post. []

Reboot notes

It’s been qui­et here late­ly. Even the del.icio.us links have dried up. The rea­son: I have been fran­ti­cal­ly prepar­ing my talk for Reboot. It’s near­ing com­ple­tion, and I’m pret­ty sat­is­fied. Look­ing for­ward to deliv­er­ing it to the cool peo­ple in Copen­hagen.

Some notes:

  • My slot has been announced. It’s on thurs­day the 31st, start­ing 12:20 in ‘the box’ (inter­est­ing name for a room, hope­ful­ly it’s not too descrip­tive).
  • Nicole Simon has inter­viewed me as part of her pod­cast series for Reboot. It should be up any time now. Hear me bab­ble inco­her­ent­ly about why I think games & play are such inter­est­ing areas for design­ers. Update: the inter­view is now online!
  • Guy Dick­in­son has been so kind to invite me for his micro-pre­sen­ta­tion ses­sion. I’ll be in the one dur­ing the evening ‘hap­pen­ing’, so you can all drink and talk while look­ing at the pret­ty pic­tures in my slides.

It’s going to be an amaz­ing two days. See you all there!

See me talk on mobile social play at Reboot 9.0

I got awe­some news the oth­er day: my pro­pos­al for a talk at Reboot 9.0 has been accept­ed. I’m very hon­oured (and a lit­tle ner­vous) to be pre­sent­ing at a con­fer­ence with so many smart atten­dees. Now to get my act togeth­er and cre­ate a kick-ass pre­sen­ta­tion.

If you have any­thing relat­ed to this (pret­ty broad) top­ic that you’d want me to address, please do leave a note in the com­ments.

One thing’s for sure: I’ll try to build upon what has gone before at pre­vi­ous Reboots, such as Ben Cerveny’s mind-blow­ing overview (MP3) of how play is essen­tial­ly becom­ing a new lan­guage for us to com­mu­ni­cate with and TL Taylor’s great talk on the dynam­ics of vir­tu­al worlds.

What I will be address­ing is still slight­ly unclear to me, but the direc­tion I’m head­ed is:

  1. Games can be social play, which means they can be used to forge and exper­i­ment with social rela­tions in a ‘safe’ way. This hap­pens whether you design for it or not, but can be nur­tured.
  2. When games go mobile, the bor­ders of the space and time in which a game is played are blurred. In this way, games bleed over into cul­ture in a grad­ual way.

Enough to chew on for one talk, I guess. Again, any ques­tions, com­ments and sug­ges­tions are more than wel­come. See you all at Reboot 9.0.

Mobile Social Play — my Reboot 9.0 proposal

Vadr

I’ve just sub­mit­ted my pro­pos­al for a talk at Reboot 9.0. It’s on the three areas I am most fas­ci­nat­ed with at the moment: mobile, social soft­ware and gaming/play. After attend­ing this great con­fer­ence twice it’d be real­ly cool to get the oppor­tu­ni­ty to present there.1

Take a look at it and let me know what you think2, I’d love to get some feed­back up-front so I can maybe work that in there. What do you want to know about this top­ic?

Curi­ous what this might be like? Take a look at the Pecha Kucha I deliv­ered on mobile gam­ing for a taste of what’s to come.

  1. If it doesn’t work out I can always turn it into a micro pre­sen­ta­tion.
  2. If you like it, vote it up!

Packing for the IA Summit

Just fir­ing off a quick post while pack­ing for the IA Sum­mit. Tomor­row morn­ing I’m tak­ing off on my flight to Vegas. For any­one curi­ous about my doings while in the states, your best bet is Jaiku1. SMS-ing the occa­sion­al update should be afford­able and won’t take too much time. No live blog­ging I’m afraid, I will be tak­ing plen­ty of notes2 and promise to do a prop­er write-up when back.

1. Although all the crazy Amer­i­cans are hooked on Twit­ter like an addict on crack, so to keep up with what’s going on there I’ll need to switch between two pres­ence apps. Grum­ble.

2. A fresh squared Mole­sk­ine pock­et note­book is ready for action.

My photos in Schmap’s Rome, Venice and Florence guides

Lieke in the inner cloister

Plan­ning on mak­ing a trip to Rome, Venice or Flo­rence? Check out the free dig­i­tal trav­el guides from Schmap. The new edi­tions con­tain some pho­tos I took while vaca­tion­ing there this spring. Schmap use Cre­ative Com­mons-licensed pho­tos from Flickr in their guides. They always polite­ly ask for per­mis­sion first even though strict­ly speak­ing they don’t have to. The guides are PC only but they’ve promised me Mac ver­sions will fol­low short­ly.

And yes, Edgar was there first.

Update: the nice peo­ple over at Schmap real­ly love me. They’ve includ­ed this insane­ly great pho­to of the Cab Inn City hotel in their next Copen­hagen guide.

See me Pecha Kucha on mobile gaming

Mobile Vader

Next Wednes­day, see me do a pre­sen­ta­tion on mobile game design at the 6th Pecha Kucha Night in Off_Corso, Rot­ter­dam. Pecha Kucha are super short pre­sen­ta­tions con­sist­ing of 20 slides. Speak­ers have exact­ly 20 sec­onds per slide to do their thing. Quite a chal­lenge! I’ve fin­ished my slides and a first draft of the talk, now to prac­tice the hell out of my lines… Here’s an Upcoming.org entry I made for the event, here’s the Dutch and inter­na­tion­al site and final­ly, here’s some cool Pecha Kucha tips by Yong­fook.

Finito

Just now I final­ly fin­ished tag­ging the last few pho­tos tak­en in Venice. The whole set of Lieke’s and my vaca­tion in Italy is now online. Total num­ber of pho­tos we end­ed up select­ing is a whop­ping 411. You can start at the first new one since the pre­vi­ous update over here.

Plen­ty of pret­ty shots in this update, my favourite is prob­a­bly this one:

Pigeons, lanterns and scultpure

Enjoy!