Pig Chase, a game for pigs and humans

For a while now, I’ve been part of a research pro­ject at the Utrecht School of the Arts, called Playing with Pigs. Up till now, I’ve referred to it as pro­ject Buta on this blog. We’re research­ing the weird rela­tion­ship humans have with domest­ic­ated pigs. You know, pigs that are farmed for meat. The way we are research­ing this rela­tion­ship is by design­ing a game. It is called Pig Chase.

Today I’m excited to be able to share the video sketch we made as a first step towards this game.

You can watch a lar­ger ver­sion of the video on Vimeo.

We’re mak­ing a game for sev­eral reas­ons. On the one hand, it allows you to exper­i­ence ques­tions related to the sub­ject of pig farm­ing first hand. Questions such as: are pigs intel­li­gent anim­als? Is farm­ing pigs for meat cruel? And so on. The other thing a game can do is trans­form how you relate to pigs. We’re explor­ing a new rela­tion­ship, one that takes ele­ments from how we deal with anim­als in the farm, the cir­cus and the home.

The video sketch of Pig Chase is our way of put­ting the design of the game out there, to see how the world at large responds to it.

The choice for light as a medium is the res­ult of a sys­tem­atic explor­a­tion of what kinds of stim­uli pigs respond to. We were aware of some evid­ence indic­at­ing pigs enjoy light. But when we saw how they reacted to a laser pointer, we knew we were on to something.

In case you’re won­der­ing: yes, the plan is to actu­ally build this thing. That’s the next step.

I’m look­ing for­ward to explor­ing the forms of play this sys­tem affords. I’m also keen on exper­i­ment­ing more with the idea of a sym­met­rical play space, and forms of play that are actu­ally cog­nit­ively chal­len­ging to pigs. On the human side I am mostly fas­cin­ated by intim­acy with an animal that is actu­ally quite remote.

For more details, includ­ing full cred­its of every­one involved, refer to the offi­cial Playing with Pigs pro­ject web­site. There’s also a press release avail­able, and a set of high res­ol­u­tion images.

Finally, I’d like to high­light the amaz­ing work done by my col­lab­or­at­ors: Irene van Peer, who has been my sound­ing board on inter­ac­tion design from the start, and whose expert­ise on everything ran­ging from par­ti­cip­at­ory design meth­ods to mater­i­als and con­struc­tion has been indis­pens­able. And Hein Lagerweij, whose broad range of video pro­duc­tion and motion graph­ics skills have made this whole thing come to life in an amaz­ing way. I’d also like to thank Clemens Driessen for his per­spect­ive on the eth­ics around tech­no­logy and live­stock farm­ing, and Marinka Copier for her trust and vision.

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  1. Floris
    Posted December 14, 2011 at 09:25 | Permalink

    It’s a shame your blog is not DIGG enabled. Because I really digg this.

  2. Kars
    Posted December 14, 2011 at 21:05 | Permalink

    Why wouldn’t this be Digg enabled? Glad you like it though.