Announcing a hybrid game opera for Monster

I nev­er thought I would make an opera. But now I have.

A bit of Monster

In a few weeks time the above mar­ket square in the town of Mon­ster will be trans­formed into an are­na where fight­ers duel each oth­er using their pet mon­sters. If this sounds famil­iar, it is no coin­ci­dence.

Mega Mon­ster Bat­tle Are­na is one of 11 operas pro­duced by Dario Fo to cel­e­brate the fifth anniver­sary of the West­land munic­i­pal­i­ty. Dario Fo spe­cial­ize in cre­at­ing music the­atre in close col­lab­o­ra­tion with the local com­mu­ni­ty. They asked com­pos­er Daniël Ham­burg­er to cre­ate the opera for Mon­ster. The brief was to do ‘some­thing’ with the town’s curi­ous name, and to make it a pro­duc­tion that would appeal to youth by ref­er­enc­ing games cul­ture.1

Daniël in turn approached me, since he had lit­tle affin­i­ty for games, and want­ed the piece to not only be about games, but to be a game itself. So that’s what I helped do. By turn­ing the game design prin­ci­ple of embed­ded nar­ra­tive inside-out, we’ve man­aged to cre­ate a struc­ture in which we can both tell a sto­ry using a script, and have per­form­ers impro­vise using game rules. Those rules I designed as a prop­er game. I could give you those rules and you would be able to play it your­self.

So there will be fights, and they’ll not be script­ed. You won’t know before­hand who will win, and nei­ther will we. There will also be a sto­ry, about a hero­ine fac­ing off with a bad guy, in the best game and mar­tial arts film tra­di­tion. Sieger M.G. was our third man, the piece’s writer. A rap­per turned poet with a life-long games addic­tion, there could be no bet­ter fit.

What’s prob­a­bly most excit­ing to me is that on top of the impro­vi­sa­tion­al chore­og­ra­phy of the duels, a live band will use a rule set of their own, com­posed by Daniël, that takes the game as it unfolds as its input to impro­vise. How’s that for adap­tive music?2

It might all go hor­ri­bly wrong, or it might become a won­der­ful spec­ta­cle. If you are like me and would like to find out which it will be, head to Mon­ster for one of the shows. They’re sched­uled for:

  • Thurs­day 18 June 20:30 (try­out)
  • Fri­day 19 June 20:30
  • Sat­ur­day 20 June 20:30

Tick­ets are 15 Euro and can be bought at the venue. Once the show is over, I’ll post some more detailed stuff about the actu­al work I did. Stay tuned.

Mega Moster Battle Arena flyer

  1. There would be tons of kids from local high schools to work with. They also want­ed to use the local fire­men choir. Oh, and aer­i­al work plat­forms too… []
  2. One of the sources of inspi­ra­tion for Daniël was John Zorn. []

My Mobile Game Directions Pecha Kucha

Yes­ter­day I pre­sent­ed my talk on mobile gam­ing at the 6th Pecha Kucha Night in Rotterdam’s Off_Corso. I was pro­grammed as the first speak­er, which was excit­ing (and also allowed me to ben­e­fit from the pri­ma­cy effect, as my girl­friend point­ed out). Col­league Iskan­der was kind enough to record the whole thing on his N70 (fit­ting­ly) and I present it here for your enjoy­ment or aggra­va­tion, whichev­er you pre­fer (please take note that the talk is in Dutch). The slides I used are over at SlideShare.

I’m still not sure the sub­ject mat­ter was appro­pri­ate for the event, con­sid­er­ing the major­i­ty of speak­ers were either graph­ic design­ers, autonomous artists or archi­tects. The crowd might’ve been a bit under­whelmed by my com­mer­cial and pop cul­tur­al ref­er­ences. Oh well, I had fun, I guess that’s the most impor­tant thing.

Many thanks to Nadine and Bart of Hunk Design for let­ting me loose on stage. ‘Nuff respect to all the pre­sen­ters for tak­ing the trou­ble of prepar­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion. There were plen­ty of cool and inspir­ing ideas on show. Final­ly, thanks to the cre­ators of all the images I used, you can find the cred­its in the SlideShare show.

Update: I’ve delet­ed my YouTube account so here’s an embed of the video on Vimeo:



Mobile Game Direc­tions @ Pecha Kucha Night Rot­ter­dam from Kaeru on Vimeo.

An invitation to The Sultan’s Elephant

A photo of The Sultan's Elephant by Hessel

A while ago, my friend Hes­sel post­ed this excel­lent pho­to to Flickr. I’ve noticed this insane­ly cool per­for­mance around the inter­web ear­li­er. Now, just as back then I real­ly wish that giant ele­phant and the accom­pa­ny­ing girl will fre­quent one of my country’s small cities even though that doesn’t seem like­ly. Please Sultan’s Ele­phant, come to the Nether­lands, I’ll give you some peanuts when you do!