Week 139

The pre­vi­ous week seam­less­ly flowed into this one when on sat­ur­day I sat down to final­ize the deck of slides for Raum Schiff Erde. On sun­day morn­ing, I grabbed a train and five hours lat­er I was in Stell­w­erk, the conference’s love­ly venue. Kind, clever peo­ple, a nice relaxed and friend­ly atmos­phere, inter­est­ing talks, all in all a good event. There is more about what I talked about on the Hub­bub blog. It wrapped up with some music and then we were off to din­ner. Turned in late and got up ear­ly the next morn­ing for anoth­er train. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed this short in a hotel, didn’t even man­age to squeeze in break­fast.

On the train ride, I man­aged to review all of the grad­u­a­tion project pro­pos­als of my stu­dents. These were first drafts, next week they’ll need to sub­mit a final ver­sion after one more round of reviews. Some have love­ly, curi­ous top­ics. (A satir­i­cal news­game, any­one?) I’ll share some of them with you some­time soon.

I had a few hours to take a breather when I got back to Utrecht and then it was off to the HKU Acad­e­my The­atre to pre­pare for This hap­pened – Utrecht #5. This was the first edi­tion of the new year, and also the first in a new venue, which made it kind of scary. But every­thing turned out great. (Read a few reports to get a sense of the evening, if you’re inter­est­ed.) We had pos­si­bly the best series of talks so far (although, of course, they’ve all been great) and a great crowd. I’m already look­ing for­ward to #6.

As if two of these chal­lenges weren’t enough, on wednes­day it was D-day for project Tako (which is part of a big­ger plan that is local­ly known sim­ply as PLAY). I pre­sent­ed the results of my research to a room full of cul­tur­al event orga­niz­ers, games devel­op­ers and assort­ed lumi­nar­ies of the Utrecht city scene. I man­aged to wrap up the siz­able stack of sketch­es only hours before in a final adren­a­line-fueled design sprint. The respons­es were encour­ag­ing, so it seems we can start explor­ing the next stage. But before this I’ll need to anno­tate the deck of slides, include all the feed­back and then we might have some­thing we can pub­lish.

In between and after, it’s been more work at Layar. I’ve been dig­ging into the specs for sev­er­al pro­to­types — lots of sketch­ing there, too — forc­ing myself to con­sid­er mul­ti­ple paths. Some of the out­put has been hand­ed over to engi­neers. I can’t wait to see the results of their devel­op­ment efforts.

Even though all of this is more fun than is legal, I can’t wait for a work free week­end, too.

Week 138

Last evening I was on top of the Neude­flat, to review a draft of a pre­sen­ta­tion I’ve pre­pared as part of project Tako.1 Ear­li­er that day and mon­day I talked to the last two par­tic­i­pants: Cul­turele Zonda­gen (a pro­duc­er of fre­quent city-wide cul­tur­al events that always take place on sun­days) and Habek (a pro­duc­er of local hip-hop events and projects). Most of the pre­sen­ta­tion is in place — lots of rough con­cepts for play­ful cul­tur­al projects — it just requires some last addi­tions and tight­en­ing up to be ready for the city lab ses­sion with all par­tic­i­pants next week.

On tues­day morn­ing I found myself in a room filled with stu­dents, who gave short pre­sen­ta­tions on the results from the ini­tial field research they per­formed over the pre­vi­ous week. Some had inter­est­ing insights to share, rang­ing from the expe­ri­ence of sto­ry in sin­gle play­er ver­sus mul­ti­play­er RPGs to the effects of a play­ful UI on the per­ceived effec­tive­ness of infor­ma­tion appli­ances. Oth­ers were real­ly strug­gling with the devel­op­ment of a brief for their own work. Next up for them is to write up a pro­pos­al for their grad­u­a­tion project. We’ll review a first draft of those next week.

As I’m writ­ing this, I am on my way to Layar again — who had some excit­ing news to announce this week and won a few awards in Barcelona too. Most of my time this week will be spent on a design sprint out­lin­ing a new prod­uct offer­ing. We’ll do a review of that some­where this week, and take it from there. Iterate’s the word. Think­ing through mak­ing.

In the time that’s left, I’m chip­ping away at the talk for Ham­burg this sun­day. The rough sil­hou­ette is there, now it’s just a mat­ter of build­ing a deck. Should be doable, right? Right.

  1. The pro­mo­tion depart­ment of the city of Utrecht has its offices here, with stun­ning views. []

Week 137

I was out of the game for a day this week due to a cold. Back in the sad­dle now, off to Ams­ter­dam for more work at Layar. I’m going to pick up where we left off last week when the work­shop with BERG fin­ished.

It’s less than two weeks to the next This hap­pened – Utrecht. On mon­day we opened the reg­is­tra­tion and even though we had twice as many spots than last time, we ‘sold out’ in half the time. One minute. Crazy. I met up with Alexan­der and Ianus on mon­day evening to go over the last things that need to be done. We had a look at our new venue too, the HKU Acad­e­my The­atre, which I think is real nice.

On tues­day I went over to Codarts to give a lec­ture on games to music stu­dents (pro­duc­ers, com­posers and song­writ­ers, most­ly). I was invit­ed by Daniël Ham­burg­er, whom I col­lab­o­rat­ed with on the Mon­ster game opera. I want­ed to pro­vide the stu­dents with start­ing points for col­lab­o­ra­tion with game design­ers. So I decid­ed to focus most­ly on the notion of play­er expe­ri­ence, and how game design­ers con­tribute to this, and how music and sound can. It went OK. I start­ed by chat­ting with them about the games they play, so that I could use those as exam­ples in the rest of my talk. That’s a trick that works well, I’ll be sure to use it again.

There’s some more speak­ing on the hori­zon. On mon­day I booked my train to Ham­burg, for a talk at RaumschiffEr.de; a sort of mini-Reboot tak­ing place on feb­ru­ary 21. Read a bit more on that at the Hub­bub blog. Per­haps I’ll see you there?