A while ago I was interviewed by Sam Warnaars. He’s researching people’s conference experiences; he asked me what my most favourite and least favourite conference of the past year was. I wish he’d asked me after my trip to Playful ’08, because it has been by far the best conference experience to date. Why? Because it was like Toby, Richard and the rest of the event’s producers had taken a peek inside my brain and came up with a program encompassing (almost) all my fascinations — games, interaction design, play, sociality, the web, products, physical interfaces, etc. Almost every speaker brought something interesting to the table. The audience was composed of people from many different backgrounds, and all seemed to, well, like each other. The venue was lovely and atmospheric (albeit a bit chilly). They had good tea. Drinks afterwards were tasty and fun, the tapas later on even more so. And the whiskey after that, well let’s just say I was glad to have a late flight the next day. Many thanks to my friends at Pixel-Lab for inviting me, and to Mr. Davies for the referral.
Below is a transcript plus slides of my contribution to the day. The slides are also on SlideShare. I have been told all talks have been recorded and will be published to the event’s Vimeo group.
Perhaps 1874 words is a bit too much for you? In that case, let me give you an executive summary of sorts:
- The role of design in rich forms of play, such as skateboarding, is facilitatory. Designers provide tools for people to play with.
- It is hard to predict what people will do exactly with your tools. This is OK. In fact it is best to leave room for unexpected uses.
- Underspecified, playful tools can be used for learning. People can use them to explore complex concepts on their own terms.
As always, I am interested in receiving constructive criticism, as well as good examples of the things I’ve discussed.