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Ignite Berlin on New Games and Wild Play

Before I went on my trip to China and Australia I had an Ignite to give here in Berlin. To do that I threw all of our thinking of the past couple of years on the floor (literally because my post-its wouldn’t stick to the wall behind me) and synthesized it into something that reflects where we stand right now.

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Kars gave a different New Games for New Cities presentation a while back at FutureEverything and we think we have gotten most of the thinking in on this subject that we are going to. What remains now—and where all of the work & value is at—is to actually do it.

For this Ignite and the concept of non-Western cities I was able to draw from my own childhood experiences which were spent mostly on a hillside gecekondu in the Mamak district of Ankara. Something so natural to me that I had ignored it but probably quite alien to most of those in the audience. I imagine most of that area has actually been bulldozed after the rezoning, but it would be good to see what it looks right now.

In the talk I also reflected on our perspective on both gamification and serious games. We have experience with both but to say that we are uncomfortable with the uncritical discourse playing out around us would be an understatement. We are aware that this terminology makes games easy to swallow for those who would not touch it otherwise, but that same easiness makes it harder to make games that are actually fun to play.

With regards to gamification Kars is writing a chapter in a book that will offer a final word on the subject, but in short: people employing gamification try to reduce the richness of reality to the simplest of game mechanics with imminent failure as a consequence. Many serious games on the other hand go at it from the other way: they try to use very narrow and incomplete game models to extrapolate consequences in the real world from. These games are not only susceptible to the ludic fallacy, they are hardly ever fun.

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