It’s the end of week 158 and I am sat at a table in what will soon be the new Dutch Game Garden. On the fourth floor builders are putting final touches to the studio FourceLabs and Hubbub will be sharing. I am on the first floor, with a gorgeous view of the Neude square which is the scene of much summery activity. The city as theatre.
This week has been mainly about project Ebi. We kicked off a second iteration, after wrapping up basic functionality in iteration 0, this one is about adding the game specific stuff. Most of our energies so far have gone into designing a good ruleset. We had a breakthrough on wednesday and reconvened today to formalize those ideas, and fill in the blanks. We now have enough material to push forward on design, copy and engineering. It’s that stage of that project where the shape of things starts to become clear and you can’t wait for it to materialize so that you can touch it, use it, play with it.
In a short while I’ll be strolling through the centre of Utrecht to the current and soon to be old Dutch Game Garden, for a farewell party. We’ve had plenty of good times in Drieharingstraat 6, let’s give the old building one more bash.
This was the last week of my stay in Copenhagen. Coming Sunday it’s back to the Netherlands. As usual leaving feels bittersweet. There certainly things I’ll miss about being here, not in the least our lovely apartment in one of the city’s nicest neighborhoods. And the many great cafés. But there’s a lot to be said for being in Utrecht, too. I have so much stuff going on there, it got a bit tiring towards the end managing it all remotely.
So this week…
I went over to Malmö to meet with Dan Gärdenfors at TAT and with Jonas Löwgren at MEDEA. In both cases there is reason for follow-up; it looks like there might be a TAT-Hubbub concept video about pervasive play and mobile UIs on the horizon, and I might come back to MEDEA to do some teaching.
I had a marathon Skype session on wednesday. Talking to all my students who are now nervously prepping for their mid-terms. As well as sessions with Claudia and Karel in preparation of the urban games festival in Leidsche Rijn we’re assisting with.
I lectured (and ran a little playtest of an audience game I’ve been tinkering with) at CIID. Look for a full report and annotated slides at the Hubbub blog, soon.
And now, it’s time to do a few more touristy things and then pack, and head home. The next weeknote will be Dutch flavored again.
I am sat on the couch at home typing this. iTunes is on shuffle (some Burial at the moment). I’ve just had a Bi-Fi snack sausage (a guilty pleasure) and some ice tea. I was kind of hungry, but now I’m ok.
Last week wasn’t as crazy as many recent ones have been. Still pretty busy, with some work in the evenings etc. But the pace is lower. That’s a nice change.
Today I sort of wrapped up project Tako. Sort of, because although I’ve delivered what was this project’s aim, it is part of something much larger. So we’re already making plans for phase two. Anyway, I’ve published an annotated deck of slides to the project’s participants weighing in at 100+. It describes concepts for playful stuff that can be added to the programs of ten of Utrecht’s major cultural events. It also describes a metagame that can be used to tie it all together. The response to it has been good so now the next step is to actually produce a selection of these concepts, which is super exciting.
I started the week with a long drive to the Westland for a slightly overdue evaluation of Mega Monster Battle Arena. Dario Fo, Daniël and myself agree it would be awesome to put on an improved version of the show at other venues because it really is something special, more people should see it. If you have suggestions for a suitable event or venue, let me know.
In between, I’ve been banging away at designs for Layar. It’s interesting to experience the rhythm of idea divergence and convergence in a project. It’s like ebb and flow. This week was definitely characterized by a new wave of divergence, which means scrambling to capture all that emerges. Next week we’ll need to bring it all together again and focus things. Ebb and flow.
iTunes has started playing an Interpol song now. I think I might grab some crisps after I’ve posted this.
There’s some movement over at the website for my new venture. I mentioned Hubbub before: it is a design studio I am setting up for physical, social games that are played in public places. We hope to address social issues and the like using these games.
I’ve adjusted the temporary site to fit with the brand that’s being developed by my friends at BUROPONY.
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.
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.
Karel Millenaar, game designer extraordinaire at FourceLabs and a fellow resident of the Dutch Game Garden, has helped me out on this one. [↩]