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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2 Comments

  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.