Week 133

We (Marin­ka, Evert and I) wrapped up the Move It project on fri­day with great suc­cess. I spent the day in a the­ater watch­ing 24 con­cept videos of new street sports. The one that scored the high­est was also my favorite; a team sport that involves bounc­ing a ball off the sides of an alley, includes the ref­er­ee as a bounc­ing sur­face and allows the audi­ence to par­tic­i­pate by bat­ting balls that leave the play area back into field. It’s called Bounce Ball, check out the video on Vimeo.

This week I’m spend­ing most of my time act­ing as men­tor on anoth­er project at the Utrecht School of the Arts (at the the­atre fac­ul­ty, to be exact). First-year stu­dents from all cours­es there (act­ing, writ­ing, stage design, etc.) have one week to put togeth­er a pro­gram that will be open to the pub­lic on fri­day. The project is titled Mount Ever­est and revolves around the theme of peo­ple going to extremes and trans­gress­ing lim­its (as moun­taineers often do).

It’s nice spend­ing this much time in the the­atre fac­ul­ty, since this is the new venue for the 2010 series of This hap­pened – Utrecht events. I’m get­ting good vibes from the phys­i­cal space, I think it’s a great fit for our thing. I’ve met with Ianus and Alexan­der to make fur­ther plans for the next edi­tion (which is planned for 22 feb­ru­ary). Most of the pro­gram is tak­en care of so we’re on sched­ule for mak­ing the usu­al announce­ments and send­ing out invi­ta­tions to the guest list.

I’ve also met with Karel to dis­cuss project Una­gi. This is a small game design event — an exper­i­ment real­ly — that was born from the many dis­cus­sions Karel and I tend to have over our reg­u­lar din­ners. The goal of Una­gi is to cre­ate a place where Dutch game design­ers can meet, and where we can get a feel for what the state of the art of the dis­ci­pline is. It also involves food.

I’m also slow­ly but sure­ly get­ting up to speed with project Tako. Hope­ful­ly this week I’ll man­age to plan most of the meet­ings that I’ll be hav­ing with the peo­ple behind some of the city of Utrecht’s major cul­tur­al events.

Last but not least, tomor­row I’ll be assess­ing the group project I’ve been men­tor­ing at the Utrecht School of the Arts’ grad­u­ate school for art and tech­nol­o­gy since sep­tem­ber. Also, on fri­day, the group will present their work to Jus­si Holopainen of Nokia Research Cen­ter, who is the project’s com­mis­sion­er. The project is titled EcoW­ay, and revolves around the design for a play­ful expe­ri­ence for com­pa­nies that want to encour­age their employ­ees to com­mute in a green­er man­ner. Here’s a pho­to of the group with their pro­to­type. Look close­ly and you’ll notice it includes a herbar­i­um with prop­er live plants.

This will be a bit­ter­sweet end­ing to a chal­leng­ing but reward­ing teach­ing expe­ri­ence. What most stands out for me with this project is how a prop­er team was formed from what start­ed out as a col­lec­tive of indi­vid­u­als thanks to a hands-on, think­ing-by-doing approach.

Week 132

I’m tak­ing up the chal­lenge Matt Webb post­ed in his last wee­knote of the year 2009 and will be post­ing wee­knotes of my own here for the fore­see­able future. You can expect stuff about design work I do at Hub­bub, teach­ing at the Utrecht School of the Arts and per­haps bits about This hap­pened and oth­er side endeav­ors.

So this is week 132 of my free­lance career. I start­ed on July 1st 2007, which coin­cid­ed with a move to Copen­hagen (I’ve moved back to Utrecht since).

Most of this week is tak­en up by a work­shop — titled Move It — I’m run­ning togeth­er with Evert Hoogen­doorn and Marin­ka Copi­er at the Utrecht School of the Arts. All first year stu­dents of the games and inter­ac­tion cours­es are par­tic­i­pat­ing, around 130 in all. That’s a crazy num­ber, it’s real­ly tax­ing, but also a lot of fun. Lots of good vibes when we’re all in the same room. The assign­ment we’ve giv­en them is to design a new sports expe­ri­ence. It should take place in the cen­tre of Utrecht, and they should not only design the play of the sport, but also the expe­ri­ence of the audi­ence, the ref­er­ee, book­mak­er, etc. We kicked off on mon­day,1 today was open Q&A, tomor­row will be a mid-way review and on fri­day they’ll present the final game in the form of a three-minute video. There’ll be 24 videos in total, all post­ed to this Vimeo group. I’m real­ly look­ing for­ward to the end results.

Oth­er than that I’m hop­ing to get start­ed prop­er­ly with a con­sult­ing project I’ve code­named Tako.2 It’s about explor­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for play­ful addi­tions to the pro­grams of some of Utrecht’s major cul­tur­al events. The project’s com­mis­sioned by the city of Utrecht. I’ll talk more about it once the work is under­way.

What else… This being the new year, there’s plen­ty of recep­tions. Today I attend­ed one at the Utrecht School of the Arts. Tomor­row I’ll be at the month­ly lunch organ­ised by the Dutch Game Gar­den3 which’ll prob­a­bly involve some new year shenani­gans.

I was also doing the oblig­a­tory finan­cial admin that comes with the start of a new month, a new quar­ter and a new year (thank god there’s noth­ing spe­cial relat­ed to this being a new decade). Invoic­ing, that sort of thing.

Also, I sent out a mes­sage to some of my old friends in Copen­hagen, since I’m plan­ning a six-week stay there in spring. I’m hop­ing to do some work there. Have heard back from a few already, so that’s encour­ag­ing.

There’s also more than the usu­al amount of meet­ings to talk about poten­tial new projects. All quite inter­est­ing and excit­ing, who knows what’ll come of those.

So that’s the first wee­knote out of the way. It’s inter­est­ing how doing this increas­es my aware­ness of all the stuff that’s going on. It’s hard not to feel a lit­tle over­whelmed. I hope it’s of some inter­est to you though.

Onwards!

  1. I ran a brief ideation ses­sion using a design game devel­oped by Jus­si Holopainen et al. at the Nokia Research Cen­ter. []
  2. I’ve got­ten into the habit of nam­ing new projects after Japan­ese seafood. []
  3. Which is where I have my stu­dio. []