My plans for 2016

Long sto­ry short: my plan is to make plans.

Hub­bub has gone into hiber­na­tion. After more than six years of lead­ing a bou­tique play­ful design agency I am return­ing to free­lance life. At least for the short term.

I will use the flex­i­bil­i­ty afford­ed by this free­ing up of time to take stock of where I have come from and where I am head­ed. ‘Ori­en­ta­tion is the Schw­er­punkt,’ as Boyd says. I have def­i­nite­ly cycled back through my meta-OODA-loop and am firm­ly back in the sec­ond O.

To make things more inter­est­ing I have exchanged the Nether­lands for Sin­ga­pore. I will be here until August. It is going to be fun to explore the things this city has to offer. I am curi­ous what the tech­nol­o­gy and design scene is like when seen up close. So I hope to do some work local­ly.

I will take on short com­mit­ments. Let’s say no longer than two to three months. Any­thing goes real­ly, but I am par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in work relat­ed to cre­ativ­i­ty and learn­ing. I am also keen on get­ting back into teach­ing.

So if you are in Sin­ga­pore, work in tech­nol­o­gy or design and want to have a cup of cof­fee. Drop me a line.

Hap­py 2016!

Week 183

And so the last work­week of the year has come to an end. I’ve just wrapped some going-away gifts for Wieger and Syl­van, who have been interns at Hub­bub for the past four months. I’ve put togeth­er a lit­tle sur­vival kit con­tain­ing every­thing a junior agent of Hub­bub needs to make it out in the big bad world.

It’s been a rel­a­tive­ly qui­et week, with some work on Maguro, which will kick off prop­er­ly in the new year when all of the team is back on deck. Alper has start­ed doing some small soft­ware pro­to­typ­ing of the basic game­play. Pro­to­types over ideas, that’s how I pre­fer to do things.

I went over to the Nether­lands Film Fes­ti­val to look back on our col­lab­o­ra­tion as part of the PLAY Pilots project. Seems like we’re both keen to do more work togeth­er in 2011, which is nice.

I was at Media­mat­ic wednes­day night to do an Ignite talk on the work that’s been going on at Hub­bub. That went quite well (I was glad to have prac­ticed the thing a few times, because the time pres­sure is killer). I’ll post slides and a tran­script to the Hub­bub blog soon­ish.

I man­aged to squeeze in some shenani­gans in the snow too. A nice fol­low up to last friday’s snow fight, this time I rode a too-fast-for-my-own-good sleigh down the side of the old city for­ti­fi­ca­tions towards the moat and almost col­lid­ed with a dog and a lit­tle kid. I man­aged to stay dry though. That was fun.

And with that it is time to sign off. I start­ed writ­ing these wee­knotes at the begin­ning of this year and wasn’t at all sure if I would keep it up. Turns out I did, and I have to say it’s been a plea­sure to write these for the most part.

Even so, I don’t think I’ll keep writ­ing these here in 2011. Most of my work now hap­pens at Hub­bub so I’ll be writ­ing the occa­sion­al update over at the blog there.

When it comes to the link posts, I used to do this with Deli­cious, but like many I’ve made the switch to Pin­board last week. I don’t think I’ll reac­ti­vate link posts, so if you want to fol­low the book­marks, fol­low me there.

And of course there’s my per­son­al Twit­ter account, and the Hub­bub one. That might be eas­i­est in fact although maybe a bit over­whelm­ing at times.

All that’s left to say is thank you for read­ing this, have a mer­ry Christ­mas a hap­py new year, and I will catch you again some­time some­where.

Week 182

First at the stu­dio, cof­fee brew­ing, Tron Lega­cy sound­track play­ing mak­ing this feel like an epic morn­ing. It’s week 182 which means the penul­ti­mate work­week of this year. I’m look­ing for­ward to a much need­ed hol­i­day between Christ­mas and the new year dur­ing which I will be com­plete­ly off the grid. Being dis­con­nect­ed has become a lux­u­ry.

Thing are qui­et­ing down, but still there’s plen­ty to do, although things seem a lit­tle less frag­ment­ed. I basi­cal­ly focused on get­ting a new project code­named Maguro off the ground. I signed the con­tract with the client and briefed the team. We’ll be mak­ing a per­va­sive game aimed at cre­at­ing a change in the atti­tude of a large gov­ern­men­tal service’s per­son­nel. It’s ambi­tious and excit­ing. Good thing I have some very bright minds on the team: Alper, Simon, Karel and Niels. We’ll get start­ed prop­er­ly next year. Can’t wait.

Besides this I went over to Muiden to attend a demo and pre­sen­ta­tion of the game my stu­dents cre­at­ed for the island of Pam­pus. There was too much ice in the IJs­selmeer so we couldn’t actu­al­ly go to the island, so the demo was done on a dike with a view of the lake. I took some pho­tos. It was great.

And in between I have been talk­ing to the stu­dios who cre­at­ed the PLAY Pilots live games. Eval­u­at­ing the project, so that if we get to do it again in the new year (which I am very much hop­ing we can) we keep doing what we did well, and improve on the things we could have done bet­ter.

With that it’s time to sign off and dive into fri­day. Tonight’s Hub­bub Christ­mas drinks at Kafe Bel­gië. Very much look­ing for­ward to that.

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.

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 171 & 172

I have a lot on my plate at the moment. A bit too much it seems. So it’s a good thing I got to wrap up a few things in the past two weeks…

Most notably Maguro, for which we pre­sent­ed our design to the client last wednes­day. We gave away quite a show, includ­ing music and spo­ken word per­for­mances. The whole thing was well-received.

Anoth­er deliv­ery of a kind was This hap­pened – Utrecht #7. Nev­er before did it take us so long to com­plete our speak­er line­up. It’s an expe­ri­ence I would like to pre­vent in future, but we couldn’t real­ly help it. As a result, I had very few expec­ta­tions about this par­tic­u­lar one, but it turned out great. We even man­aged to try out a few new things. A new clock, and a new “badge” (actu­al­ly a but­ton). Good stuff. Some nice reports have been writ­ten about it, too.

More deliv­er­ies, at the Nether­lands Film Fes­ti­val we had a good run with PLAY Pilots live game num­ber two: De Stere­oscoop by Zes­baans. We man­aged to get some nice pub­lic­i­ty, we had it set up at the clos­ing par­ty and lots of peo­ple played on it. Good stuff.

Apart from this I have been busy find­ing projects for Twee­t­akt 2011’s inter­ac­tive pro­gram, and man­ag­ing the Pam­pus group project at the HKU.1 My interns at Hub­bub are also plug­ging away at the Learn­ing Lab games, they deliv­ered their sec­ond one last week.

Good grief. No won­der I was a lit­tle sick and had to take a day off yes­ter­day. I’m hop­ing to take a it a lit­tle bit eas­i­er the com­ing peri­od. No idea how, though. Any ideas?

  1. The group is blog­ging, too, by the way. []

Week 169

Fiona Raby once told me that the major­i­ty of her work with stu­dents at the RCA was about psy­chol­o­gy. After a week like this, I can see where she’s com­ing from. With­out going into too much detail, I had my work cut out for me with a new group of stu­dents who I will be work­ing with on a design research project at the HKU. After a first meet­ing with the team and a kick-off with the client the next day, it became clear I was deal­ing with a group with some seri­ous moti­va­tion­al issues. The trick was to fig­ure out where it all was com­ing from. To do this it was vital to try and see things as they real­ly are in stead of as they were pre­sent­ed to me by the group. After sev­er­al addi­tion­al ses­sions (mess­ing with my sched­ule but that comes with the ter­ri­to­ry) I had it fig­ured out more or less and have for­mu­lat­ed a plan to deal with it. Psy­chol­o­gy.

In between all that crazi­ness my week con­sist­ed of:

  • Work­ing with my two new interns at Hub­bub. We reflect­ed on their expe­ri­ences at the Nat­ur­al Net­work­ing Fes­ti­val and pre­sent­ed a post-mortem of the first game to Thieu after attend­ing one of the Learn­ing Lab mee­tups.
  • Sketch­ing out addi­tions to the PLAY Pilots web­site nec­es­sary to sup­port the Zes­baans instal­la­tion for the Nether­lands Film Fes­ti­val. These will launch next week in time for the installation’s unveil­ing on Thurs­day.
  • Pre­sent­ing my pre­lim­i­nary list of inter­ac­tive works suit­able for next year’s Twee­t­akt fes­ti­val. This is my first time curat­ing an event oth­er than This hap­pened. I am keen to mash up play­ful inter­ac­tion design with the fringes of game design and it seems Twee­t­akt are up for it too. Hap­py days.
  • Anoth­er full day of work on Maguro. Best part of which was a few qui­et hours to bang out a first playable paper pro­to­type of the game. Con­ver­gence is a bitch but always reward­ing when it hap­pens.
  • Today, I hung out at BUROPONY and took care of a few odds and ends for their web­site. In return work has start­ed on a last bit of Hub­bub cor­po­rate iden­ti­ty: a design for the box to hold our busi­ness-slash-col­lectible play­ing cards.

And with that I am sign­ing off. A train is tak­ing me from Rot­ter­dam to Utrecht, per­haps I will be in time to catch the tail end of fri­day drinks at the Dutch Game Gar­den. Nev­er a dull moment there.

Week 168

So, I got back from a one-week hol­i­day on Ter­schelling last week­end (which was love­ly, by the way) and imme­di­ate­ly dove into work again. So much to do at the moment, it’s a chal­lenge not to get swamped. Any­way. And it is one of those weeks where I need to look back on my cal­en­dar just to remem­ber what has been going on…

Most notably, two interns have start­ed at Hub­bub. They are work­ing on games for the sec­ond install­ment of the Learn­ing Lab, an exper­i­men­tal edu­ca­tion­al pro­gram cre­at­ed by Riv­er Insti­tute, which will be run­ning at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ams­ter­dam the com­ing months. Their first assign­ment is to design a game that will be played by Learn­ing Lab par­tic­i­pants (who are called “pio­neers”) today and tomor­row at the Nat­ur­al Net­work­ing Fes­ti­val. It is nice to have these guys on board. This week I reg­u­lar­ly sat down with them to review their plans but aside from this they are incred­i­bly self-steer­ing. They’ll be blog­ging about their exploits on the Hub­bub blog soon.

Also, I had a full day of work on Maguro yes­ter­day. We spent the whole day at the client’s office (a large gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion which I can’t name at the moment). The morn­ing was tak­en up by short pre­sen­ta­tions from the side of us, the design team. We also had the chance to talk to a selec­tion of peo­ple from our tar­get audi­ence and get a tour of their work envi­ron­ment. In the after­noon we sat down to brain­storm con­cepts, and came up with some inter­est­ing ones. I enjoyed get­ting a chance to see this orga­ni­za­tion from the inside, which due to to the sen­si­tive nature of their work is a lit­tle secre­tive. We decid­ed to use part of the workshop’s pro­gram to try out some mechan­ics that we might be using in the game, with­out the audi­ence being aware of it. That lead to some inter­est­ing results.

This week is book­end­ed by meet­ings for project Ika. This project is run from the still very new Design for Play­ful Impact research group at the HKU. On mon­day I spent some time with the peo­ple lead­ing the oth­er projects to get a gen­er­al sense of the pro­gram. Today I’ll be meet­ing up with the client for the first time.

And in between I’ve been doing more work on PLAY Pilots. I dropped by Zes­baans to check out an ear­ly ver­sion of their instal­la­tion for the Nether­lands Film Fes­ti­val, which is called The Stere­o­scope and is this kind of toy-like VJ-ing tool loaded with frag­ments from Dutch films from the past 30 years. Awe­some, awe­some, stuff. It’s already fun to play with, even though the cus­tom-built con­sole is yet to be fin­ished and the game mechan­ics haven’t been imple­ment­ed yet.

And final­ly, in oth­er news: we announced the next This hap­pened — Utrecht, and I uploaded a selec­tion of pho­tos from the Boc­ce Drift game Hub­bub ran a few weeks ago.

Week 165

So week 165. One of those old-fash­ioned frag­ment­ed weeks that reminds me of why I decid­ed a while ago that I should stop hav­ing more than two meet­ings on one day. Any­way.

Fol­low­ing the week­end of Stekker Fest crazi­ness I had a bit of an off day on Mon­day. Tues­day I sat down with Ianus and Alexan­der to make plans for the next This hap­pened — Utrecht. We’ve had a bit of trou­ble find­ing a venue, get­ting financ­ing and every­thing but it looks like we’re all set. Mon­day 4 Octo­ber at The­ater Kikker in Utrecht, NL. Save the date.

From Ams­ter­dam I trav­eled on to Rot­ter­dam and spent some time at Simon’s sketch­ing out the addi­tions to PLAY Pilots for the Wip ‘n’ Kip game data. I also dropped by BUROPONY. They might make some­thing cool for This hap­pened atten­dees…

Wednes­day I had cof­fee with Thieu and Godelieve at the West­er­gas­fab­riek in Ams­ter­dam to talk about a new project which I’ve dubbed Fugu. It deals with exper­i­men­tal (game-like) new forms of high­er edu­ca­tion. I am tak­ing on board two interns to help me out with that. That’ll be an inter­est­ing new expe­ri­ence. I also hooked up with Peter, who is now at Adap­tive Path Ams­ter­dam. Cool build­ing, they seem to be doing well. Nice.

In the after­noon on Wednes­day I was back in Utrecht to talk to Ezra, who is involved with some inter­est­ing research into cycling. He’s based in Copen­hagen. We dis­cussed ways in which we might use low-tech per­va­sive urban games to shape cycle use. Who knows, Hub­bub might ven­ture there to do some exper­i­ments in future.

I fin­ished that day off with a review of a stu­dent pre­sen­ta­tion. Final exams is next week; that’ll eat up a lot of my time.

Ah what’s more? Thurs­day, more edu­ca­tion­al work, I attend­ed a kick-off of the new aca­d­e­m­ic year at the HKU’s school of art and tech­nol­o­gy. I liked the fact that all teach­ers were there and sat down to sync their class­es and assign­ments in such a way that they all con­nect­ed to projects stu­dents would be doing. Prop­er project-based art edu­ca­tion. Good to see that hap­pen.

And today I am review­ing one more stu­dent pre­sen­ta­tion and am spend­ing some time with Alper on PLAY Pilots and relat­ed bits.

Look­ing ahead, next week will be about the afore­men­tioned final exams and also the kick-off of project Maguro. I have to say I am run­ning on fumes a bit and can’t wait for next week because on fri­day I will head to Ter­schelling for a week and unplug com­plete­ly.

Almost for­got about Boc­ce Drift this Sun­day. Come along and play.

Week 162

Slight­ly over­due so I’ll keep it (very) short.