Week 254

Last week was travel heavy for both of us but Kars joining me here in Berlin on Tuesday (after I got back from Barcelona on Monday) meant we could get things done that required our combined presence.

Most importantly we did our second quarter OKR review. The OKR results were informative and motivated us to take things a step further. Q2 has seen us getting a huge amount of press and publicity for the things we have done (you can read that back in the weeknotes) and the question we asked ourselves is how to best put that attention to use.

Peter and Alper's messy desk

The OKR review also helped guide a long overdue rewrite of Hubbub’s offering. We are pleased to say that we are now a studio that does ‘digital product design for a playful world’. We adjusted most of the copy on the website and wrote a blogpost about the new direction in an afternoon.

I posted a piece to Medium that is tangentially related concerning designing based on user wants. Wants these days are indistinguishable from needs anyway. I got some nice feedback on that piece and the experience of writing on Medium is smooth (though also similar to current studio favorite Quip). We have some more writing forthcoming in this vein that challenges the status quo in product and service design.

The proposals we have on deck are moving forward with one pending for a festival which promises to be a lot of fun and should go into production soon. The other ones are moving forward with some concluding and others being pushed back while awaiting a round of funding.

We are also continuing working on our card game KEGANI with Subalekha Udayasankar and we are at the point where it can be tweaked endlessly. That means that the game is fun already but that there is still a lot of work left to be done.

Posted in Weeknotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

A new direction for the studio

"Everything is play(able)"

Today we’ve updated our front page and about page to reflect a new direction for the studio: digital product design for a playful world.

The way we see it, playfulness has become an important quality for a wide range of products. It invites people into an experience, enables them to connect to others and express themselves, and offers a way for them to understand the world.

The things we find ourselves working on nowadays aren’t necessarily “games” in the strict sense of the world. We have a very relaxed attitude about what games are and have always pushed the boundaries of the form in both our applied and free work. But although the group of people who share our views has grown, the reality is that for many people still, a game is a very specific category of media product. And so when they are introduced to Hubbub as a game design studio, they aren’t always able to imagine how we might help them with inventing and building other types of products that are playful and engaging.

So we’ve decided to bid the label of games and game design farewell and instead frame our work in the more general terms of products and design while retaining the notion of playfulness. In doing so, we hope to invite a wider range of clients and collaborators to work with us on new and exciting things.

Of course, this does not mean we are no longer interested in games and game-like projects. We are proud of the body of work we have built up over the years. The games will stay in our portfolio and in fact we are working on a few new ones right now. We hope to continue to do so, while at the same time expanding our range into more things similar to Cuppings, Standing and so on. Things that aren’t recognisable as games per se but that are in fact deeply playful in various ways.

As we get settled on this new direction, you can expect more changes in the coming period. And of course we’d love to hear your thoughts. So as ever, do get in touch.

Posted in Announcements, Featured | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

Week 253

We kicked off the week with a review of the latest sprint on Standing. The app now has a completely new look. Aside from a few final tweaks we deemed it ready to ship. For the next sprint we decided to focus on getting the web site aligned with the new look.

That same day I prepared and delivered a This happened talk on Ripple Effect. It was fun to dig through the archives and collect artefacts from the game’s production. Many of the project’s team were present and afterwards we agreed it had been one hell of a ride.

On Tuesday I headed to FreedomLab in Amsterdam for a closed workshop with Eric Gordon on what he calls “engagement games”. The Mobile City had collected a diverse group of thinkers and makers and it was a pleasure to spend the better part of a day reflecting on issues that have been part of our work ever since Hubbub started.

Alper left for Barcelona on Wednesday, from where he would spend the remainder of the week doing maintenance work and sampling the city’s many delights.

On Thursday, I visited TU Delft on invitation of Ianus to attend the final presentations of a group of BA industrial design students who had created physical games and toys for Id-8. Many designs featured innovative use of mechanisms or materials while remaining simple and affordable to produce.

The week ended for me with another playtest of KEGANI, this time at the Dutch Game Garden, with a couple of seasoned game professionals. Alper had done a test earlier in the week with his newly minted “game designers anonymous” meetup group. This second iteration was an improvement over the first and the idea is still received with great enthusiasm. Nonetheless, based on the test outcomes I would say we have our work cut out for us; many different directions appear equally promising from here on out.

A final note on logistics: Kars will be in Berlin working from our Kreuzberg studio together with Alper.

Posted in Weeknotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Week 252

Last week we were again in lots of talks with people for potential future projects. We are getting a lot of attention on many fronts so we are rather pleased about that.

On Tuesday Nina Polak of Dutch online journalism platform De Correspondent published an interview with us that we are very pleased with. It is unfortunate that it is in Dutch because it is a very nice portrayal of the kind of things we do and want to do. We got a bunch of responses and inquiries based on that interview through many channels which was a nice side effect.

The rest of the week we were busy working on the next release of Standing which is looking rather stunning. The app is getting a whole new visual style designed by Simon Scheiber and we can’t wait to have it in an app store near you.

Kars started work on his talk on Ripple Effect for the 20th This Happened Utrecht which is happening tonight. Attend that if you can, I hear they suddenly got more space.

Playing at being a frog

The week ended with me attending the birthday of Wigwam and the house warming of EyeEm here in Berlin and with Kars going to Den Bosch to meet friends and play games at the Playful Arts Festival.

Games for People by Pat Ashe and George Buckenham

Logistically I will be in Barcelona later this week and Kars will be in Berlin later this month.

Posted in Weeknotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Week 251

We kicked off this week on Tuesday following the extra-long Pentecost weekend with a review of the work that lead up to Standing’s launch at Mediamatic. After taking stock of the way it was received, we strategised a bit and settled on a direction for the next few iterations. We drew up a list of things to work on for the next sprint, and decided to lower the pace a bit; two-week iterations in stead of one.

Standing course at Take a Stand

On Friday we had another session specifically looking at a new visual design Simon has come up with for the app. This will be a huge improvement over the current “placeholder” design and I can’t wait to start implementing it in Xcode.

Another thing which took up considerable amounts of my attention this week was a lecture for the regional division of the “Beter Benutten” platform, which works to improve mobility nation-wide. Their focus has shifted from improving infrastructure to “behaviour change” so I headed over to share our approach to this, going over such things as the COM-B system, Sebastian’s MAO model, strategic design and lots of examples of innovative projects in the mobility space.

We closed off the week with a hangout with Subalekha to go over the results from mine and Alper’s playtests of KEGANI. The direction this is headed looks promising so we’ve committed to doing another iteration of the rules and playtesting again, which should happen over the course of the next two weeks.

In between we had a number of meetings connected to possible new projects and also sent out a couple of proposals. The amount of interest we’re getting from all sorts of fields is very heartening. It’s one of those phases in the studio’s life cycle where there is a ton of potential new stuff up in the air and we are waiting for something to coalesce into definitiveness.

Posted in Weeknotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Week 250

Last week I was in the Netherlands to wrap up some stuff at our Utrecht studio and to discuss a realign of the studio (more on that later!). On Tuesday I caught up with some people in Amsterdam and on Wednesday I made my way back to Berlin, just in time for the games.net summer party, always a great event for people making games in Berlin.

Games.net summer thing

On the projects front: the SHIJIMI proposal needed some adjustment before being final. There is a bunch more stuff in the pipes that will make its way into a future weeknote. Standing got written up on Bright. We are glad about the attention it is getting and we’re now in talks about development. Kars met up with a couple of Dutch cultural attachés to talk about the role games and play can take in the Netherlands’ representation abroad.

Thursday evening I organized a get-together at our Berlin studio for game designers to discuss open problems together and find solutions. This proved to be immensely valuable and will likely become a regular thing.

Kars playtested KEGANI, a game we’re making together with Subalekha Udayasankar and we’re really excited about the results from that.

Playtesting KEGANI

I did maintenance on (your daily) Victory Boogie Woogie on Friday before I went to an event in the Grüner Salon about the protests in Taksim.

Posted in Weeknotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Week 249

This week’s focus was squarely on our celebration of Standing’s launch at Mediamatic. While Alper and Simon put the final touches on a live display showing all active standing sessions around the world, I got the word out about the event on social media, coordinated with the event producer and got a streaming setup put together. I also did a quick ignite on the night before the event.

Setting up for Standing event at Mediamatic

We had a nice turnout and really enjoyed ourselves. The course on standing—heavily influenced by qigong—was a good warmup. Dirk’s essay likening smartphones and apps to lamps and jinn served as a nice framing of our work. We then got standing to a live set by Salvador Breed. (A recording of this is available over at Twitch.) The combination of ambient noise, standing super still for something you care about, and seeing people across the world join in on the live display was rather magical.

Standing session by Hubbub at Mediamatic with music by DJ Salvador. Picture credits: Simon Scheiber.

Aside from our work on Standing, we sent out two updated offers and had an assortment of meetings. Most notably, I went over to RIVM to critique the current state of VTV game (which we did strategic design for late last year).

On Friday, I cleaned out the various inboxes in the morning and subsequently went over to The Village to decompress together with Alper, who had come over for the event.

Posted in Weeknotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Week 248

Standing

Most of last week for all of us was spent on Standing, our app for playful activism which saw public release (announcement). Responses have been more than positive and we have had people standing from all over the world already. One of our biggest inspirations, Bernie De Koven called it an example of inactivism. We like that term a lot. We have been busy improving the website, fixing bugs, talking to people about the project and planning the launch party at Mediamatic Thursday evening. You are more than welcome to join us!

Other than that Kars dropped by EYE for a workshop. We had a good chat about games with Nina Polak of Dutch publication De Correspondent. We debriefed the project CHUTORO with GEElab and reflected on our experiences collaborating.

We discussed further work on KEGANI since the proposal we made for it was not selected. The idea of KEGANI is to create a hybrid game to make more people aware of a social issue. We are going to work on the concept further and explore other partners who would be interested in working with us on this. The SHIJIMI proposal is moving forward steadily and it turns out that a lot of people are interested in gamelike urban development right now.

Posted in Weeknotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Announcing Standing – an app for playful activism

Standing

Today we are making Standing available for iPhone. Standing is an app for playful activism, which we have been working on intermittently since we first announced it back in August 2013. We are pleased to have it out there and are excited to see what people will do with it.

With Standing, you can stand still for a cause of your choosing in whatever place you feel is suitable. The app records how long and where you are standing and shares it live on the accompanying website. Once you have finished, it is turned into a lasting record, which you can share as proof of your commitment to the cause.

Standing

The project was inspired by the standing wo/man protests, which were initiated by Erdem Gündüz, on 17 June 2013 by standing in Taksim Square in Turkey. The topic of ludic resistance has been a long-lasting interest of ours and after much speaking and writing on the subject we felt the need to make something that directly contributed to it. Seeing the act of standing being used as an effective way of civil disobedience delighted us and we felt it served as a perfect starting point.

Hashtags, posts and photos of the people standing in Turkey easily found their way online. It had a very meme-like quality. We wanted to extend the act of standing even further by creating an app that would track the location and duration in real time.

Standing

Nonviolent civil disobedience can contribute to change and has done so in the past. A well-known example would be the 1960 Nashville sit-ins. Today, the relationship of contemporary tech culture with activism is many-faced. Websites and apps have become the forefront of government and corporate persuasion. We are interested in using this vernacular for playful resistance.

More practically, and perhaps more importantly, we think Standing sits in between the frictionless, and therefore almost meaningless act of signing an online petition and participating in a physical protest which can be intimidating, challenging or even dangerous. Standing is a distributed, asynchronous way to playfully and nonviolently express that you really do care about a cause.

Although earnestly intended as a thing people can actually use to express themselves, the irony of using an app to “solve” the “problem” of activism is not lost on us. We are fully aware of and sympathetic towards the arguments against “solutionism” as articulated by Morozov and others. This project is a way for us to comment on the same phenomenon, by playfully appropriating the “medium” of the app for non-instrumental purposes.

Get Standing in the Apple App Store. Meanwhile, we intend to develop both the app and the website further. They are both still in an early, experimental stage. Regardless, we do hope you enjoy using it to stand for a cause, and look forward to hearing any feedback you may have.

Posted in Announcements, Featured, Projects | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Week 247

We focused on two projects this week: SHIJIMI and Standing (formerly known as AJI).

For SHIJIMI, we wrote a proposal and had a meeting with Heijmans and Rezone to discuss it and other documents drafted earlier by them. Each is a position paper of sorts, and next we need to merge them all into one thing suitable for submission for funding. It’s slow going, but I find devoting suitable amounts of time to the preliminary phase of a project always pays off in the end.

Standing’s first proper release version nears completion. We continued to adjust the app’s accompanying website and I drafted an announcement blog post. I also headed to Rotterdam to spend a day walking through the city with Simon, shooting photos that would make suitable press materials.

Being photographed by Simon

Meanwhile, De Gids published a sneak preview of the essay by Dirk which will be presented during the event which doubles as Standing launch party at Mediamatic, on Ascension Day. We’d love to have you over for this, but you can also participate from any other place on the globe. So mark your calendar.

Other than this, the usual meetings with potential clients and peers continued both in Utrecht and Berlin, as well as boring stuff such as taking care of finances. Alper dropped by UIkonf on several occasions and I whipped up a quick writeup of the Cuppings tasting game for our portfolio.

Posted in Weeknotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed