Week 176

As I was start­ing to write this a dis­cus­sion broke out on dra­matur­gy and game design. So I got side­tracked debat­ing sim­i­lar­i­ties and dif­fer­ences between dis­ci­plines and most impor­tant­ly what they have to offer to each oth­er. The room was filled with inter­ac­tion design­ers, game design­ers and folk with a the­atre back­ground.1 So that was inter­est­ing.

More mix­ing of dis­ci­plines: on tues­day I spent a day work­ing on Buta with Irene van Peer, a prod­uct design­er with a tremen­dous amount of expe­ri­ence in the health­care domain. We sat down and man­aged to push the work for­ward through lots of sketch­ing and mak­ing. Next up is more work with pigs and farm­ers on site.

The rest of this week was tak­en up by work for PLAY Pilots (Monobanda’s Band­jes­land for Le Guess Who? is turn­ing out great), the Pam­pus project at the HKU, and a few meet­ings for new projects on the hori­zon.

I have been pay­ing atten­tion to my calo­ry intake the past few weeks. It turned out this was far too low. Now that I am eat­ing much more I find myself being able to cope with less sleep, more stress and just gen­er­al­ly feel­ing much bet­ter. Which also makes for more plea­sure tak­en from my work. Who’d have thought food could be such an upper?

  1. Wieger and Syl­van, interns at Hub­bub, study Design for Vir­tu­al The­atre and Games at the HKU. []

A quick look at Tweetakt’s playful installations

Twee­t­akt is hap­pen­ing in Utrecht at the moment. It’s a youth the­atre fes­ti­val, real­ly push­ing the lim­its of what we think that means. As an exam­ple, they’ve pro­vid­ed space for sev­er­al instal­la­tions at the fes­ti­val cen­tre on the Neude. I went over for a quick look today — even though I know most of the cre­ators per­son­al­ly and am famil­iar with sev­er­al of the pieces. They’re all free and open to the pub­lic, so if you’re in the area, you should go too.

Knikker­baan

Medialab Utrecht's Knikkerbaan at Tweetakt

Made by a few prin­ci­pals at the Medi­al­ab Utrecht. Push a but­ton and a mar­ble starts rolling down a futur­is­tic look­ing track. Halfway through it enters a scan­ner of sorts, and is con­vert­ed into a vir­tu­al coun­ter­part vis­i­ble on a screen, only to emerge phys­i­cal­ly after some time again. At the end of the track, you get to keep the mar­ble.

It’s hard­ly inter­ac­tive, but does look kind of impres­sive and of course, mar­bles are always fun.

Kleurkamer

Monobanda's Kleurkamer at Tweetakt

A new ver­sion what is becom­ing a clas­sic by the trou­ble­mak­ers at Monoban­da. A beam­er, a white decor and wiimotes enable you to paint with light. It’s a sim­ple premise, the exe­cu­tion is ser­vice­able but the result is quite mag­i­cal. The addi­tion of white jack­ets for peo­ple that want to become part of the can­vas is a real nice touch.

Block­blaz­ers

Fourcelabs's Blockblazers at Tweetakt

Made by my friends at Fource­labs, this is the one that hasn’t the ben­e­fit of a spec­tac­u­lar phys­i­cal shape but is the most fun to play. It’s a com­pet­i­tive plat­form game playable with eight peo­ple at the same time with some clever social and phys­i­cal touch­es. Scor­ing points is reward­ed with a big pho­to of your­self that is shown for a few sec­onds, and the game wraps around two big screens that are back to back, forc­ing you to move around and com­pete with the oth­er play­ers for phys­i­cal floor space.

It’s nice to see this kind of stuff at a the­atre fes­ti­val. I hope the pieces will do well — despite the fact that not all of them have been placed and pre­sent­ed to the pub­lic in the best way — so that we’ll get more of this stuff in the years to come.

Work now so you can play later

There’s a lot going on at the Leapfrog stu­dio, which explains at least in part why things have gone qui­et around here. How­ev­er, I want­ed to take the time to alert you to some upcom­ing events that might be of inter­est.

An urban game in the Rotterdam city center

On Sun­day Sep­tem­ber 27 around 50 young peo­ple will play an urban game I designed for Your World — Rot­ter­dam Euro­pean Youth Cap­i­tal 2009.1 It is part of a two-day event called Change Your World, which enables groups of youth to set up a new ‘move­ment’ with finan­cial sup­port and advice from pro­fes­sion­als. You might want to hang around the Rot­ter­dam city cen­ter dur­ing the day, to wit­ness what is sure to be an inter­est­ing spec­ta­cle. More info should show up soon enough at the Your World web­site.

A pervasive game in the Hoograven neighborhood of Utrecht

Around the same time, from Sep­tem­ber 18 to Octo­ber 11, you’ll be able to play Kop­pelkiek in the Hoograven area of Utrecht. This is a game I’ve cre­at­ed for the Dutch Design Dou­ble pro­gram.2 To play, you take pho­tos of your­self with oth­ers in a range of sit­u­a­tions and upload them to the game’s web­site. It’s designed to sub­tly per­me­ate your dai­ly life. With the help of our play­ers we’re hop­ing to cre­ate a col­lec­tion of pho­tos that pro­vide a unique look into life in the neigh­bor­hood. Do join in if you’re in the area. Also, we’ll have a playtest on Sep­tem­ber 16. If you’re inter­est­ed in play­ing a round or two, drop me a line.3

Data visualizations of silence

I’m wrap­ping up some data visu­al­iza­tion work I’ve done for the artist Sarah van Sons­beeck.4 Sarah’s work revolves (amongst oth­er things) around the con­cept of silence. Alper and I took a dataset she gen­er­at­ed dur­ing a few of her ‘silence walks’ using a GPS track­er and a sound lev­el meter and cre­at­ed a num­ber of sta­t­ic visu­al­iza­tions in Pro­cess­ing. Some of the out­put can be seen at the exhi­bi­tion Een Dijk van een Kust. More will prob­a­bly be on dis­play at anoth­er occa­sion. Also, I’ve learnt some new tricks that I intend to share here soon.

What else, what else…

  • I’m still mean­ing to write some­thing up about the work that went into Mega Mon­ster Bat­tle Are­na™ but it will have to wait. I attend­ed two of the three shows and enjoyed both through­ly. There’s some pho­tos up at the opera’s web­site.
  • We’re in the process of fin­ish­ing up the This hap­pened – Utrecht #3 videos. Once they’re all done we’ll add them to the event’s page on the .org site along with the slides. Plan­ning for our fourth event has already start­ed. Mark your cal­en­dar for Octo­ber 26 and sub­scribe to our newslet­ter so you won’t miss the registration’s open­ing.
  • And final­ly, I’m slow­ly but sure­ly giv­ing shape to a new ven­ture which will focus on the use of play in pub­lic space to effect social change. Its name is Hub­bub. The crazy design­ers at BUROPONY are devel­op­ing a sweet brand iden­ti­ty and a first place­hold­er site is up. Stay tuned for more news on that.

That’s about it for now, thanks for your atten­tion. I promise to pro­vide con­tent with more meat and less self-pro­mo­tion in upcom­ing posts.

  1. Karel Mil­lenaar, game design­er extra­or­di­naire at Fource­Labs and a fel­low res­i­dent of the Dutch Game Gar­den, has helped me out on this one. []
  2. I’ve asked Tij­men Schep of Pinep­ple­Jazz, NetNiet.org and the new Utrecht medi­al­ab to be my part­ner on this one. []
  3. Around the same time a lot of oth­er inter­est­ing stuff relat­ed to design and soci­ety will be going on, such as the third edi­tion of Utrecht Man­i­fest, the bien­ni­al for social design. []
  4. I was turned on to this gig by the ubiq­ui­tous Alper Çuğun. []

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!