This week on Wednesday I found myself in the lovely KNAW building to talk about the far future of applied game design. I was invited to do so by STT, together with David Shaffer, Jeroen van Mastrigt and Jeroen Elfferich. I talked about the incapacity of design as well as science fiction to effectively imagine a future, how to deal with that as a designer, and two areas that I see as truly virgin territory for applied game design: the new type of city we’ve seen emerge in the East, and synthetic biology. I got some nice responses and some challenging questions from the crowd, so I guess things went OK. The annotated slides will find their way to the Hubbub blog soon.
Aside from this, I spent the week working on PLAY Pilots — continuing work on the next pilot for Le Guess Who? together with Monobanda. And at the HKU, working with my students on the Pampus project. Finally, my interns have kicked off their third game at the Learning Lab, this one running on their internal blog platform. It involves monkeys and a blind dragon. Looking forward to the writeup for that one.
Quite a few bits of content found their way online too, by the way. In case you missed them the first time around, here they are:
Plus a video of the Bocce Drift session Hubbub ran a while back:
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.
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. 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. 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.