I’m writing this on a train from Geneva. It’s been two crazy weeks which explains for the lack of notes for a while.
The big thing these past weeks was the first proper playtest for Saba. Week 132 was taken up by preparations, with Hanne and Karel developing a scenario and building a paper prototype. I had a meeting with the museum to go over what we’d be looking for, using a list of questions as our guideline. The client recruited a number of families, and on Monday and Tuesday of this week we ran several tests. Things went well, despite the fact that the small bit of technology we had planned to use to simulate one aspect of the game — a mobile printer that would output photos taken with an iPhone — failed miserably and we had to improvise. We got encouraging responses from players though. Next comes the hard work of collating all the observations and deciding how to act on them.
On Tuesday of week 132, I ran a small workshop at a Noordhoff conference for science teachers about Galaxy Tours. We’ve finished our work on this. The result is a prototype that takes an interesting approach to introducing students to several core concepts of astronomy. It’s not ready for public consumption yet, though. So until we get a chance to develop it further, it’ll remain in the archives. We might publish some of our learnings from this project at some point. And of course it’ll get a writeup in the portfolio.
That same night I attended Control Gamelab #2, played some of the best Dutch Global Game Jam games and was interviewed on stage together with Karel about our experience participating in Berlin. Niels’ fun short documentary of the trip was also shown.
I ended week 132 with participating in the Social Cities of Tomorrow workshop as an expert, which meant spending time with all the teams and mostly helping them solidify the concepts they had developed. Most revolved around urban renewal and social participation in some way, which made it a stimulating thing to be involved with for a day.
I also attended the Social Cities of Tomorrow conference, where I presented a case study of Koppelkiek. It feels a long time ago since we’ve done that project, and we’ve learned a lot since, so I tried to share as many of that as I could. My personal highlight was hearing about how the keynote speakers — Usman Haque, Natalie Jeremijenko and Dan Hill — had each structured their practice in such a way to be able to do the most interesting work possible, with the biggest amount of impact. Something I am continuously thinking about for Hubbub.
The weekend was taken up by work on my LIFT lecture. On Wednesday morning I flew into Geneva and (after dropping off some things at my hotel) immediately headed to the venue for the start of the conference. On Thursday I presented my thoughts on using games to restore a sense of agency and accountability to publics, which was kind of an attempt to develop some ideas from my dConstruct talk further. I got some kind responses, which was gratifying. As a conference, LIFT did a good job of providing an overview of the social implications of our current and near-future technologies. The conversations around the event, in the hallways, over drinks and dinner, were the best part, as is usually the case with these events. As one speaker pointed out, citing Théophraste Renaudot, conferences are “the commerce of souls.”