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?

Disintermediation

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.

Adaptation

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.

Playful Design for Smart Cities

Ear­li­er this week I escaped the mis­er­able weath­er and food of the Nether­lands to spend a cou­ple of days in Barcelona, where I attend­ed the ‘Play­ful Design for Smart Cities’ work­shop at RMIT Europe.

I helped Jus­si Holopainen run a work­shop in which par­tic­i­pants from indus­try, gov­ern­ment and acad­e­mia togeth­er defined projects aimed at fur­ther explor­ing this idea of play­ful design with­in the con­text of smart cities, with­out falling into the trap of solu­tion­ism.

Before the work­shop I pre­sent­ed a sum­ma­ry of my chap­ter in The Game­ful World, along with some of my cur­rent think­ing on it. There were also great talks by Judith Ack­er­mann, Flo­ri­an ‘Floyd’ Müller, and Gilly Kar­jevsky and Sebas­t­ian Quack.

Below are the slides for my talk and links to all the arti­cles, books and exam­ples I explic­it­ly and implic­it­ly ref­er­enced through­out.

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!

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.

"Anonymous Scientology 1 by David Shankbone" by David Shankbone - David Shankbone. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anonymous_Scientology_1_by_David_Shankbone.JPG#mediaviewer/File:Anonymous_Scientology_1_by_David_Shankbone.JPG

Polit­i­cal play is a mode of think­ing crit­i­cal­ly about pol­i­tics, and of devel­op­ing an ago­nis­tic approach to those pol­i­tics. This ago­nism is framed through car­ni­va­lesque chaos and humour, through the appro­pri­a­tion of the world for play­ing. By play­ing, by care­ful­ly nego­ti­at­ing the pur­pose of play­ing between plea­sure and the polit­i­cal, we engage in a trans­for­ma­tive act.

Quote tak­en from PARTICIPATORY REPUBLICS: PLAY AND THE POLITICAL by Miguel Sicart on the Play Mat­ters book blog.

I love where Miguel is going with his think­ing on the rela­tion­ship between play, pol­i­tics, appro­pri­a­tion and resis­tance.

I am inter­est­ed in this because at Hub­bub we have been explor­ing sim­i­lar themes through the mak­ing of games and things-you-can-play-with.

The big chal­lenges with this remain in the area of instru­men­tal­i­sa­tion – if you set out to design a thing that encour­ages this kind of play you often end up with some­thing that is far from play­ful.

But the oppor­tu­ni­ties are huge because so much of today’s strug­gles of indi­vid­u­als against the state relate to leg­i­bil­i­ty and con­trol in some way, and play is the per­fect anti­dote.

For exam­ple short­ly after read­ing Miguel’s piece I came across this McKen­zie Wark piece on extrastate­craft via Hon­or Harg­er. Extrastate­craft shifts the focus from archi­tec­ture and pol­i­tics to infra­struc­ture.

Infra­struc­ture is how pow­er deploys itself, and it does so much faster than law or democ­ra­cy.

You should read the whole thing. What’s fas­ci­nat­ing is that Wark briefly dis­cuss­es strate­gies and tac­tics for resist­ing such state­craft.

So the world might be run not by state­craft but at least in part by extrastate­craft. East­er­ling: “Avoid­ing bina­ry dis­po­si­tions, this field of activ­i­ty calls for exper­i­ments with ongo­ing forms of lever­age, reci­procity, and vig­i­lance to counter the vio­lence imma­nent in the space of extrastate­craft.” (149) She has some inter­est­ing obser­va­tions on the tac­tics for this. Some exploit the infor­ma­tion­al char­ac­ter of third nature, such as gos­sip, rumor and hoax. She also dis­cuss­es the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the gift or of exag­ger­at­ed com­pli­ance (relat­ed per­haps to Zizek’s over-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion), and of mim­ic­ry and com­e­dy.

Gos­sip, rumor and hoax” sound a lot like the car­ni­va­lesque reflec­tive-in-action polit­i­cal play Miguel is talk­ing about.

To fin­ish off, here’s a video of the great James C. Scott on the art of not being gov­erned. He talks at length about how peo­ples have his­tor­i­cal­ly fled from state­craft into geo­graph­i­cal zones unreach­able by power’s infra­struc­ture. And how they deploy their own, state-resis­tant infra­struc­ture (such as par­tic­u­lar kinds of crops) to remain illeg­i­ble and uncap­turable.

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)

The real­ly good cre­ative peo­ple are always orga­nized, it’s true. The dif­fer­ence is effi­cien­cy. If you have an agenda—a schedule—you will be bet­ter. In order to have moments of chaos and anar­chy and cre­ativ­i­ty, you have to be very ordered so that when the moment arrives it doesn’t put things out of whack.”

Rem­i­nis­cent of “play is free move­ment with­in a more rigid sys­tem” – I always enjoy using pro­fes­sion­al cook­ing as source of inspi­ra­tion for improv­ing design.

(via The Stan­dard — Can the Brains Behind elBul­li Take the Chaos Out of Cre­ativ­i­ty?)

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.

Kars

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

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. []

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.