Playful Design for Workplace Change Management’ at PLAYTrack conference 2017 in Aarhus

Lase defender collab at FUSE

At the end of last year I was invit­ed to speak at the PLAY­Track con­fer­ence in Aarhus about the work­place change man­age­ment games made by Hub­bub. It turned out to be a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to recon­nect with the play research com­mu­ni­ty.

I was very much impressed by the pro­gram assem­bled by the organ­is­ers. Peo­ple came from a wide range of dis­ci­plines and cru­cial­ly, there was ample time to dis­cuss and reflect on the mate­ri­als pre­sent­ed. As I tweet­ed after­wards, this is a thing that most con­fer­ence organ­is­ers get wrong.

I was par­tic­u­lar­ly inspired by the work of Ben­jamin Mardell and Mara Krechevsky at Harvard’s Project ZeroMak­ing Learn­ing Vis­i­ble looks like a great resource for any­one who teach­es. Then there was Reed Stevens from North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty whose project FUSE is one of the most sol­id exam­ples of play­ful learn­ing for STEAM I’ve seen thus far. I was also fas­ci­nat­ed by Cia­ra Laverty’s work at PEDAL on observ­ing par­ent-child play. Miguel Sicart deliv­ered anoth­er great provo­ca­tion on the dark side of play­ful design. And final­ly I was delight­ed to hear about and expe­ri­ence for myself some of Amos Blan­ton’s work at the LEGO Foun­da­tion. I should also call out Ben Fin­cham’s many provoca­tive con­tri­bu­tions from the audi­ence.

The abstract for my talk is below, which cov­ers most of what I talked about. I tried to give peo­ple a good sense of:

  • what the games con­sist­ed of,
  • what we were aim­ing to achieve,
  • how both the fic­tion and the play­er activ­i­ties sup­port­ed these goals,
  • how we made learn­ing out­comes vis­i­ble to our play­ers and clients,
  • and final­ly how we went about design­ing and devel­op­ing these games.

Both projects have sol­id write-ups over at the Hub­bub web­site, so I’ll just point to those here: Code 4 and Rip­ple Effect.

In the final sec­tion of the talk I spent a bit of time reflect­ing on how I would approach projects like this today. After all, it has been sev­en years since we made Code 4, and four years since Rip­ple Effect. That’s ages ago and my per­spec­tive has def­i­nite­ly changes since we made these.

Participatory design

First of all, I would get even more seri­ous about co-design­ing with play­ers at every step. I would recruit rep­re­sen­ta­tives of play­ers and invest them with real influ­ence. In the projects we did, the pri­ma­ry vehi­cle for play­er influ­ence was through playtest­ing. But this is nec­es­sar­i­ly lim­it­ed. I also won’t pre­tend this is at all easy to do in a com­mer­cial con­text.

But, these games are ulti­mate­ly about improv­ing work­er pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. So how do we make it so that work­ers share in the real-world prof­its yield­ed by a suc­cess­ful cul­ture change?

I know of the exis­tence of par­tic­i­pa­to­ry design but from my expe­ri­ence it is not a com­mon approach in the indus­try. Why?

Value sensitive design

On a relat­ed note, I would get more seri­ous about what val­ues are sup­port­ed by the sys­tem, in whose inter­est they are and where they come from. Ear­ly field research and work­shops with audi­ence do sur­face some val­ues but val­ues from cus­tomer rep­re­sen­ta­tives tend to dom­i­nate. Again, the com­mer­cial con­text we work in is a poten­tial chal­lenge.

I know of val­ue sen­si­tive design, but as with par­tic­i­pa­to­ry design, it has yet to catch on in a big way in the indus­try. So again, why is that?


One thing I con­tin­ue to be inter­est­ed in is to reduce the com­plex­i­ty of a game system’s phys­i­cal affor­dances (which includes its code), and to push even more of the sub­stance of the game into those social allowances that make up the non-mate­r­i­al aspects of the game. This allows for spon­ta­neous rene­go­ti­a­tion of the game by the play­ers. This is dis­in­ter­me­di­a­tion as a strat­e­gy. David Kanaga’s take on games as toys remains huge­ly inspi­ra­tional in this regard, as does Bernard De Koven’s book The Well Played Game.

Gamefulness versus playfulness

Code 4 had more focus on sat­is­fy­ing the need for auton­o­my. Rip­ple Effect had more focus on com­pe­tence, or in any case, it had less empha­sis on auton­o­my. There was less room for ‘play’ around the core dig­i­tal game. It seems to me that mas­ter­ing a sub­jec­tive sim­u­la­tion of a sub­ject is not nec­es­sar­i­ly what a work­place game for cul­ture change should be aim­ing for. So, less game­ful design, more play­ful design.


Final­ly, the agency mod­el does not enable us to stick around for the long haul. But work­place games might be bet­ter suit­ed to a set­up where things aren’t thought of as a one-off project but more of an ongo­ing process.

In How Build­ings Learn, Stew­art Brand talks about how archi­tects should revis­it build­ings they’ve designed after they are built to learn about how peo­ple are actu­al­ly using them. He also talks about how good build­ings are build­ings that its inhab­i­tants can adapt to their needs. What does that look like in the con­text of a game for work­place cul­ture change?

Play­ful Design for Work­place Change Man­age­ment

Code 4 (2011, com­mis­sioned by the Tax Admin­is­tra­tion of the Nether­lands) and Rip­ple Effect (2013, com­mis­sioned by Roy­al Dutch Shell) are both games for work­place change man­age­ment designed and devel­oped by Hub­bub, a bou­tique play­ful design agency which oper­at­ed from Utrecht, The Nether­lands and Berlin, Ger­many between 2009 and 2015. These games are exam­ples of how a goal-ori­ent­ed seri­ous game can be used to encour­age play­ful appro­pri­a­tion of work­place infra­struc­ture and social norms, result­ing in an open-end­ed and cre­ative explo­ration of new and inno­v­a­tive ways of work­ing.

Seri­ous game projects are usu­al­ly com­mis­sioned to solve prob­lems. Solv­ing the prob­lem of cul­tur­al change in a straight­for­ward man­ner means view­ing games as a way to per­suade work­ers of a desired future state. They typ­i­cal­ly take videogame form, sim­u­lat­ing the desired new way of work­ing as deter­mined by man­age­ment. To play the game well, play­ers need to mas­ter its sys­tem and by extension—it is assumed—learning hap­pens.

These games can be be enjoy­able expe­ri­ences and an improve­ment on pre­vi­ous forms of work­place learn­ing, but in our view they decrease the pos­si­bil­i­ty space of poten­tial work­place cul­tur­al change. They dimin­ish work­er agency, and they waste the cre­ative and inno­v­a­tive poten­tial of involv­ing them in the inven­tion of an improved work­place cul­ture.

We instead choose to view work­place games as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to increase the space of pos­si­bil­i­ty. We resist the temp­ta­tion to bake the desired new way of work­ing into the game’s phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal affor­dances. Instead, we leave how to play well up to the play­ers. Since these games are team-based and col­lab­o­ra­tive, play­ers need to nego­ti­ate their way of work­ing around the game among them­selves. In addi­tion, because the games are dis­trib­uted in time—running over a num­ber of weeks—and are playable at play­er dis­cre­tion dur­ing the work­day, play­ers are giv­en license to appro­pri­ate work­place infra­struc­ture and sub­vert social norms towards in-game ends.

We tried to make learn­ing tan­gi­ble in var­i­ous ways. Because the games at the core are web appli­ca­tions to which play­ers log on with indi­vid­ual accounts we were able to col­lect data on play­er behav­iour. To guar­an­tee pri­va­cy, employ­ers did not have direct access to game data­bas­es and only received anonymised reports. We took respon­si­bil­i­ty for play­er learn­ing by facil­i­tat­ing coach­ing ses­sions in which they could safe­ly reflect on their game expe­ri­ences. Round­ing out these efforts, we con­duct­ed sur­veys to gain insight into the play­er expe­ri­ence from a more qual­i­ta­tive and sub­jec­tive per­spec­tive.

These games offer a mod­el for a rea­son­ably demo­c­ra­t­ic and eth­i­cal way of doing game-based work­place change man­age­ment. How­ev­er, we would like to see efforts that fur­ther democ­ra­tise their design and development—involving work­ers at every step. We also wor­ry about how games can be used to cre­ate the illu­sion of work­er influ­ence while at the same time soft­ware is deployed through­out the work­place to lim­it their agency.

Our exam­ples may be inspir­ing but because of these devel­op­ments we feel we can’t con­tin­ue this type of work with­out seri­ous­ly recon­sid­er­ing our cur­rent process­es, tech­nol­o­gy stacks and busi­ness practices—and ulti­mate­ly whether we should be mak­ing games at all.

Writing for conversational user interfaces

Last year at Hub­bub we worked on two projects fea­tur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion­al user inter­face. I thought I would share a few notes on how we did the writ­ing for them. Because for con­ver­sa­tion­al user inter­faces a large part of the design is in the writ­ing.

At the moment, there aren’t real­ly that many tools well suit­ed for doing this. Twine comes to mind but it is real­ly more focused on pub­lish­ing as opposed to author­ing. So while we were work­ing on these projects we just grabbed what­ev­er we were famil­iar with and felt would get the job done.

I actu­al­ly think there is an oppor­tu­ni­ty here. If this con­ver­sa­tion­al ui thing takes off design­ers would ben­e­fit a lot from bet­ter tools to sketch and pro­to­type them. After all this is the only way to fig­ure out if a con­ver­sa­tion­al user inter­face is suit­able for a par­tic­u­lar project. In the words of Bill Bux­ton:

Every­thing is best for some­thing and worst for some­thing else.”

Okay so below are my notes. The two projects are KOKORO (a code­name) and Free Birds. We have yet to pub­lish exten­sive­ly on both, so a quick descrip­tion is in order.

KOKORO is a dig­i­tal coach for teenagers to help them man­age and improve their men­tal health. It is cur­rent­ly a pro­to­type mobile web app not pub­licly avail­able. (The engine we built to dri­ve it is avail­able on GitHub, though.)

Free Birds (Vri­je Vogels in Dutch) is a game about civ­il lib­er­ties for fam­i­lies vis­it­ing a war and resis­tance muse­um in the Nether­lands. It is a loca­tion-based iOS app cur­rent­ly avail­able on the Dutch app store and playable in Air­borne Muse­um Harten­stein in Oost­er­beek.

For KOKORO we used Gingko to write the con­ver­sa­tion branch­es. This is good enough for a pro­to­type but it becomes unwieldy at scale. And any­way you don’t want to be lim­it­ed to a tree struc­ture. You want to at least be able to loop back to a par­ent branch, some­thing that isn’t sup­port­ed by Gingko. And maybe you don’t want to use the branch­ing pat­tern at all.

Free Birds’s sto­ry has a very lin­ear struc­ture. So in this case we just wrote our con­ver­sa­tions in Quip with some basic rules for for­mat­ting, not unlike a screen­play.

In Free Birds play­er choic­es ‘colour’ the events that come imme­di­ate­ly after, but the path stays the same.

This approach was inspired by the Walk­ing Dead games. Those are super clever at giv­ing play­ers a sense of agency with­out the need for sprawl­ing sto­ry trees. I remem­ber see­ing the cre­ators present this strat­e­gy at PRACTICE and some­thing clicked for me. The impor­tant point is, choic­es don’t have to branch out to dif­fer­ent direc­tions to feel mean­ing­ful.

KOKORO’s choic­es did have to lead to dif­fer­ent paths so we had to build a tree struc­ture. But we also kept track of things a user says. This allows the app to “learn” about the user. Sub­se­quent seg­ments of the con­ver­sa­tion are adapt­ed based on this learn­ing. This allows for more flex­i­bil­i­ty and it scales bet­ter. A sec­tion of a con­ver­sa­tion has var­i­ous states between which we switch depend­ing on what a user has said in the past.

We did some­thing sim­i­lar in Free Birds but used it to a far more lim­it­ed degree, real­ly just to once again colour cer­tain pieces of dia­logue. This is already enough to give a play­er a sense of agency.

As you can see, it’s all far from rock­et surgery but you can get sur­pris­ing­ly good results just by stick­ing to these sim­ple pat­terns. If I were to inves­ti­gate more advanced strate­gies I would look into NLP for input and pro­ce­dur­al gen­er­a­tion for out­put. Who knows, maybe I will get to work on a project involv­ing those things some time in the future.

Sources for my Creative Mornings Utrecht talk on education, games, and play

I was stand­ing on the shoul­ders of giants for this one. Here’s a (prob­a­bly incom­plete) list of sources I ref­er­enced through­out the talk.

All of these are high­ly rec­om­mend­ed.

Update: the slides are now up on Speak­er Deck.

I’ve spent a lot of time watch­ing dogs play­ing and it’s been a source of fas­ci­na­tion and hap­pi­ness for years. So the sub­ject mat­ter felt real­ly nat­ur­al to me. But as a game design­er, I find the dynam­ics of how dogs play togeth­er real­ly inter­est­ing. Dogs are expert play­ers. Dog play is made of all these rit­u­al­ized moments of vio­lence and dom­i­nance, but when it’s healthy play, it doesn’t cross the line into real vio­lence. Dogs are real­ly good at reg­u­lat­ing their play. Play­ing and play­ing well is this real­ly deep instinct for dogs, and I thought it would be inter­est­ing to try to pull some of that into a game for humans. Healthy dog play isn’t about defeat­ing a bunch of oppo­nents — it’s about hav­ing fun above all, while sim­u­lat­ing all these real­ly dark and dan­ger­ous real-life sit­u­a­tions and work­ing out social rela­tion­ships.

So the pre­ten­tious idea at the heart of Dog Park is to make a game that has all kinds awe­some “fight­ing” in it that’s not about defeat­ing your ene­mies. It’s about how we work togeth­er, by pre­tend­ing to fight each oth­er, by com­pet­ing with each oth­er, to cre­ate enjoy­ment for each oth­er. In oth­er words, it’s about try­ing to turn my play­ers into dogs, for a few min­utes at a time.

(via » Kevin Can­ci­enne)

Ledoliel is a companion/dating toy for iOS, involv­ing strange pro­ce­dur­al crea­tures and their bizarre cus­toms, where you must try and fig­ure out what top­ics they might want to dis­cuss, gift they might want to receive and places they may like to be touched — based on their cryp­tic attrib­ut­es.

One app store review reads “Don’t buy / This game is weird”. Which I agree with but for the part “don’t”.

(via Ledoliel on the App Store on iTunes)

Recess! 11 – Restate My Assumptions

Recess! is a cor­re­spon­dence series with per­son­al rumi­na­tions on games.

Dear Alper and Niels,

My apolo­gies, I fell off the Recess! horse there for a minute. But I’m back in the sad­dle. Let’s see, what were we talk­ing about again?

Alper obses­sive­ly played Ultra­tron for a while, got bored, stopped and felt guilty for spend­ing 11 hours on it.

Niels helped make Toki Tori 2, got all con­flict­ed about his feel­ings for the game and went on about how ele­gant­ly its world con­veys his sto­ry.

Sigh. I hope you’ll both excuse me while I don my schoolmaster’s cap and pro­ceed to school you.

It’s telling Alper feels Moves offers more mean­ing­ful play than Ultra­tron. He’s stuck in what Sut­ton-Smith calls ‘the rhetorics of ani­mal progress’. The idea that play is only mean­ing­ful when it con­tributes to ‘indi­vid­ual devel­op­ment and group cul­ture’. Alper, you should light­en up and maybe sub­mit to the rhetoric of friv­o­li­ty. Put sim­ply, you should allow your­self to play the fool. Because “unlike the rest of us, who are all losers in most of the con­ven­tion­al sens­es, and most sure­ly in the mor­tal sense, the fool tran­scends triv­i­al­i­ty.”

Niels, on the oth­er hand, should do him­self a favor and read Reme­di­a­tion because he seems to think ‘imme­di­a­cy’ is the holy grail of media. The medi­um should dis­ap­pear, it should not get in the way of the audience’s expe­ri­ence of the mes­sage. Well Niels, I have news for you: imme­di­a­cy is only one pos­si­ble media mode and its draw­backs are con­sid­er­able. Most impor­tant­ly, it pre­cludes crit­i­cal engage­ment of an audi­ence with a medium’s mes­sage. Hyper­me­di­a­cy, on the oth­er hand, fore­grounds the work­ings of media. It fore­goes ‘immer­sion’ and ‘seam­lesness’ in favor of brico­lage and seam­ful­ness (PDF). In doing so, it allows for active audi­ence engage­ment. Don’t you wish that for your sto­ries?

In short, let’s restate our assump­tions. I’ll go first:

  1. Play can be mean­ing­ful and use­less at the same time.
  2. Games can tell sto­ries with­out being immer­sive.


Recess! 3 – Rituals & Habits

Recess! is a cor­re­spon­dence series with per­son­al rumi­na­tions on games.

Dear Alper and Niels,

Where to begin? I guess by thank­ing Alper for kick­ing this thing off. And to respond to his com­ments on Pro­teus—yes, Alper, you’re being a stick in the mud. Pro­teus isn’t a replace­ment for a walk in the woods, and I’m pret­ty sure it wasn’t intend­ed as such. The thing that makes it spe­cial for me is the respon­sive audio, and how nav­i­gat­ing the space is also an act of tweak­ing and tun­ing the sound­scape. The fact that it was used in a live musi­cal per­for­mance is no sur­prise to me, in this regard.

Niels, your explo­ration of Ni No Kuni’s world sounds like a lot of work. And I won­der, real­ly, why not just sit back and watch a Ghi­b­li film, if you’re that much of a fan. What could a game pos­si­bly add? I myself pre­fer Ghi­b­li-esque explorato­ry worlds such as Jour­ney. I guess what I’m say­ing is: leave games to the game mak­ers and films to the film mak­ers. I’m a purist that way.

What to play? I’ve had the plea­sure of play­ing quite a bit of LUFTRAUSERS late­ly, and it’s shap­ing up to be a lot of fun. (I guess we’ll need to wait a bit longer for it, now that Vlam­beer seems to be fin­ish­ing Ridicu­lous Fish­ing first.) I’ve stopped play­ing it dur­ing work breaks though, I don’t unwind, I get wound up. Each time I’m close to killing my first blimp but then crash and burn I near­ly rage-quit the game.

I’ve fin­ished VESPER.5 last week. It took me well over 100 days to do so. Did it turn into a rit­u­al, as Michael Brough intend­ed? I wouldn’t go so far. I would say it got to being a habit. Which, to be hon­est, is fine. Per­haps becom­ing a habit is more than enough to aspire to for games. I did how­ev­er set a recur­ring to-do in my Things to remind myself to take my dai­ly step. Is that cheat­ing? Or is it a won­der­ful thing, that a game finds it way into my dai­ly to-do list?

It’s prob­a­bly not what Alper is look­ing for. This game won’t help you unwind, you can only do one thing a day. It’s very zen in that regard. You launch the game, watch all your actions up to that point, pon­der the next step (trad­ing off between admir­ing scenery or march­ing on towards the exit), take your step, and then per­haps spend a few moments con­sid­er­ing what you might do the next day. Hit escape, and get back to what you were doing.

It’s also not the fairy­tale world Niels would like to get lost in. It’s very sparse. There’s a bit of music, low res pix­el graph­ics, hard­ly any ani­ma­tion. There are still images you “unlock” as you vis­it cer­tain parts of the game’s world, sug­gest­ing a kind of alien land­scape. It’s evoca­tive, but in a very dif­fer­ent way from Ghibli’s lush works. Per­haps a snow globe is a nice anal­o­gy. A thing that sits on your desk or in your win­dowsill, that you absent­mind­ed­ly play with occa­sion­al­ly, while tak­ing a break from what­ev­er you are doing. Per­haps it reminds you of a place or time you hold dear­ly. But it’s not the place itself. It’s a proxy or a totem or what­ev­er the right word is.

I’m well over my intend­ed 250 words. Don’t read on if you’re play­ing VESPER.5 and hate spoil­ers. I’ll just leave you here and hand over to Alper again. But if you don’t care, here we go:

The one thing that dis­ap­point­ed me, in a rather unex­pect­ed way, is that the game ends abrupt­ly when you get to the end. I thought I’d be reward­ed with some nice sur­prise but I wasn’t. I also thought I’d per­haps done well because I took a lot of detours along the way. But the game did not acknowl­edge this in any way. What I was left with, was that it was done. I was done. And think­ing about it now, that’s a shame. It’s crazy, because the promise of fin­ish­ing this thing after 100 steps, one step a day, is what got me start­ed, and what pro­pelled be through­out. But now that I’ve got­ten into the habit, I don’t think I need that goal any­more.

I’d like a VESPER.5 that just stays with me, like that snow globe. That I can just go through end­less­ly. A habit, a good one at least, is some­thing that should con­tin­ue on indef­i­nite­ly after all.


(Read Niels’ con­tri­bu­tion, and Alper’s post before that.)

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. []

5 things I’m thinking about

You have Alper to blame for this. Alice start­ed it, many fol­lowed (some well worth read­ing) and now the meme has crossed the pond it seems. I know, we’re a bit slow in NL. So, what am I think­ing about?

My upcom­ing hol­i­day, which will be the first break in over a year. I am plan­ning to com­plete­ly unplug, which I am both dread­ing and look­ing for­ward to. It seems the longer I am self-employed, the hard­er it gets to just leave work behind for an extend­ed peri­od of time. It seems crazy to be wor­ried about the con­ti­nu­ity of my busi­ness when I’m only away for a week on a freak­ing Wad­den island.

Today marks the last day of final exams at the HKU and I am lead to won­der about the future of design edu­ca­tion as it hap­pens there and at oth­er sim­i­lar insti­tutes around the world. It often seems too closed off from the out­side world, too insu­lar. I am look­ing for­ward to tan­gling with this sub­ject mat­ter more in an upcom­ing project with Riv­er Insti­tute.

Choos­ing has nev­er come easy to me. In the past I have found it painful to choose between dis­ci­plines, skills to devel­op, projects to work on. And at some point I sort of decid­ed to stop forc­ing choic­es and find ways to have them all mesh. I think that final­ly I am get­ting to a spot where I am com­fort­able in not choos­ing. So now I won­der why that is, what the val­ue of refus­ing to choose is and what that means for cre­ative dis­ci­plines.

I am essen­tial­ly pes­simistic about the future of this world. I have a very hard time con­ceiv­ing of any future, in fact. Recent­ly I found myself in a work­shop aimed at mak­ing plans for an event in 2015 and I was total­ly lost. Hav­ing learnt this about myself the next ques­tion is how to act — I don’t wan’t to “play dead” as Bruce Ster­ling would say — so what’s the alter­na­tive?

Since it is at the core of my busi­ness I am think­ing a lot about domains where games could go next. I am think­ing a lot about cit­i­zen engage­ment, par­tic­u­lar­ly when it comes to pub­lic pol­i­cy, but I am most­ly stumped about mak­ing inroads into that area local­ly.

There you have it.