Procedural Instruments Enable Powerful Ways of Making and Seeing Playable Systems

No Man’s Sky is so big, the developers built space probes to explore it for them.” That’s from a Polygon report on what is prob­ably the most hyped video­game of the moment. The main thing that seems to fas­cin­ate people about No Man’s Sky is its extens­ive use of pro­ced­ural con­tent gen­er­a­tion (PCG). Put simply, PCG involves using soft­ware to gen­er­ate game con­tent in stead of cre­at­ing it by hand.

No Man's Sky

The game con­tent cre­ated in this way can be any­thing. Visuals are the most com­mon thing, but it can also include stuff that play­ers inter­act with, such as the arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence of a com­puter con­trolled oppon­ent or the place­ment of items in a level.

A few weeks ago I atten­ded a sym­posium organ­ised by the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA) on “auto­mated game design”. Over the course of the day vari­ous research­ers and prac­ti­tion­ers presen­ted their efforts related to this topic.

Anders Bouwer of the HvA opened the sym­posium by talk­ing about how the aim of game design auto­ma­tion is to speed things up. This can be achieved by accel­er­at­ing the trans­ition from design to soft­ware devel­op­ment, and by accel­er­at­ing the flow of feed­back from playtests back to design. The main way to do this is to cre­ate tools that sit between design and soft­ware development.

Two approaches to game design auto­ma­tion became appar­ent to me over the course of the day. The first and most obvi­ous approach is to use soft­ware to auto­mate work that a designer would oth­er­wise have to do manu­ally. This is part of the com­mon story told about No Man’s Sky. The game’s developer is a small inde­pend­ent com­pany which does not have the resources to cre­ate the game’s huge galaxy by hand. So in stead, they have craf­ted soft­ware tools which gen­er­ate plan­ets, veget­a­tion, anim­als and so on.

The second approach is to provide a designer with what are essen­tially tools for inspir­a­tion. In stead of auto­mat­ing things a human could also do by hand, a designer is enabled to do things she could simply not do without those tools. So it is not about speed and volume, but about qual­ity. It is focused on pro­cess in stead of product. Such tools can poten­tially sur­prise the designer. Conversely, the stuff pro­duced by No Man’s Sky’s tools must adhere to rules which have been pre­de­ter­mined by designers.

In one of the symposium’s first talks Joris Dormans argued for the lat­ter approach.1 He argued for the use of pro­ced­ural con­tent gen­er­a­tion tools in the ser­vice of improv­ing the game design pro­cess. He wants them to be tools to think with.

Thinking with a tool implies a kind of part­ner­ship. In stead of being the slave or mas­ter of a tech­no­logy, we become col­lab­or­at­ors. In pro­ced­ural con­tent gen­er­a­tion research, this approach is explored through mixed-initiative tools. “Mixed-initiative” refers to the fact that such tools allow for a con­tinu­ous dia­logue between designer and soft­ware. One example is Tanagra, a level design tool for 2D plat­formers. It gen­er­ates levels in real time while the designer manip­u­lates geo­metry or a more abstract rep­res­ent­a­tion of the level’s pacing.


Mixed-initiative tools such as Tanagra are excit­ing because they aug­ment a designer’s cap­ab­il­it­ies bey­ond speed and volume. Because of their fluid nature they become some­thing like a musical instru­ment. A designer can per­form with these tools. They allow for some­thing sim­ilar to sketch­ing. There is a real poten­tial for sur­prise here, and for dis­cov­ery. When mak­ing such tools the ques­tion is not what out­come it should reli­ably pro­duce, but what pro­cess it should reli­ably support.

In his talk, Joris described his ideal tool as a thing which gives him a lot of vari­ations. He should then be able to tell it what he wants to see more of. In this way, a designer can more eas­ily scan through a game’s pos­sib­il­ity space. But this way of work­ing does not enable her to see the full range of things a tool might gen­er­ate. The designer in this case is a bit like the Hello Games probe, scan­ning the pos­sib­il­ity space of No Man’s Sky, one anim­ated gif at a time.

What if we could zoom out, though? At this year’s Game Developer Conference, Tanagra cre­ator Gillian Smith, accom­pan­ied by Julian Togelius, talked about “the power and peril of PCG. Towards the end of this talk, they show work on under­stand­ing the range of out­comes afforded by pro­ced­ural con­tent gen­er­a­tion tools.

The approach is simple: first, cri­teria are determ­ined by which out­comes are scored. In the case of Tanagra, a num­ber of levels are gen­er­ated and scored on how hard they are, and on how lin­ear they are. Then, each level is plot­ted on a heat map. The res­ult allows us to see the shape of Tanagra’s pos­sib­il­ity space. In this way the biases in a par­tic­u­lar con­fig­ur­a­tion is more eas­ily uncovered.

2D histograms visualizing generative space

Enabled with such visu­al­isa­tions of pos­sib­il­ity space, pro­ced­ural con­tent gen­er­a­tion tools become instru­ments in a second sense, namely that of sci­entific instru­ments. They can be used like micro­scopes or mac­ro­scopes. We can use them to “see inside of” games and the tools used to make games. They afford power­ful new ways of seeing.

It is this prom­ise of new ways of see­ing that I find most excit­ing about pro­ced­ural con­tent gen­er­a­tion tools of the mixed-initiative type, or “pro­ced­ural instru­ments” as I pro­pose we call them from now on.

Games are just one kind of algorithmic cul­ture, and more and more kinds of algorithms are used to gen­er­ate media. However, in media cri­ti­cism the term “algorithm” is often used rather naively. What the study of pro­ced­ural con­tent gen­er­a­tion tools can teach us is that there is no such thing as a sin­gu­lar algorithm that gen­er­ates a piece of media. They are assemblages of dif­fer­ent approaches to com­pu­ta­tion, com­bined with dif­fer­ent design practices.

Attending this sym­posium on auto­mated game design has made me excited about pro­ced­ural con­tent gen­er­a­tion tools aimed at aug­ment­ing the cap­ab­il­it­ies of design­ers. The big chal­lenge ahead is get­ting such tools out of the research labs and into the hands of prac­ti­tion­ers. This is a non-trivial task. Many of these tools are quite com­plic­ated and expens­ive to get right.

A dis­sem­in­a­tion of such tools will only hap­pen if we recog­nise the power they afford us. If we want to become bet­ter at mak­ing games and play­able sys­tems more broadly, we need tools with which we can per­form bet­ter, and with which we can see bet­ter. We need pro­ced­ural instruments.

Addendum: Cases Presented During the Symposium

  • Loren Roosendaal (IC3D Media) talked about how they made earth­quake dis­aster relief train­ing soft­ware for the Indonesian gov­ern­ment. They were on a tight budget, so they cre­ated a tool which col­lapses build­ings. These col­lapsed build­ings were then used as a start­ing point for level design. He also talked about nego­ti­ation train­ing soft­ware developed for the Dutch Ministry of Defence called Cultura. It meas­ures player per­form­ance. IC3D Media and the MoD use these meas­ure­ments as input for bet­ter level design. They might in future do some­thing like A/B test­ing of dia­log options.
  • Thomas Buijtenweg (NHTV) demon­strated a gen­er­ator he developed for col­lect­ible card game (CCG) cards. The gen­er­ator provides a designer with a bunch of card options which they can then select from. It bal­ances all options using a for­mula for the card cost.
  • Daniel Karavolos (HvA) provided sev­eral examples of how he used a tool called Ludoscope to gen­er­ate video­game levels. It is based on graphs, grids and trans­form­a­tion rules. The approach focuses on mod­el­ing the pro­cess of cre­at­ing game con­tent. (PDF)
  • Rafael Bidarra (TU Delft) showed two pro­jects. The first demon­strated gen­er­a­tion of a meadow in real time based on a veget­a­tion model. The second showed how we they used grammar-based pop­u­la­tion gen­er­a­tion to con­nect gen­er­ated game geo­graphy with gen­er­ated game stor­ies. They gen­er­ate set­tle­ments in the geo­graphy and rela­tion­ships between those set­tle­ments based on resources and needs. These in turn give rise to “stor­ies” (inter­ac­tions between indi­vidu­als in the set­tle­ments). The place­ment of set­tle­ments is done in a mixed-initiative way.
  • Stefan Leijnen (HvA) and Paul Brinkkemper (Firebrush Studios) talked about MoneyMaker Deluxe, a game about frac­tional reserve bank­ing. They used Machinations to describe mod­els, which were then used as a blue­print for the gen­er­at­ors in the game. (PDF)
  1. Joris is asso­ci­ated with Hubbub. His research on engin­eer­ing emer­gence was instru­mental in start­ing the HvA’s work in this area. []
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Week 309–310

It’s been a while since we fell off the week­notes horse, but here we are. So let’s get down to it.

In week 309 we reviewed Q2’s OKRs, and dis­cussed our plans for the future. Let me tell you, it isn’t easy being a boutique play­ful design agency. But we’re sol­dier­ing on.

The big pro­ject still on deck is Free Birds (pre­vi­ously referred to as Home Rule and SHACHI). This is an iOS game about free­dom for fam­il­ies vis­it­ing war and res­ist­ance museums, for which we’re using iBeacons and a con­ver­sa­tional interface.

We’re get­ting ready for another sprint so to that end I demo’d the game to our launch­ing museum’s new dir­ector and also handed over the game’s copy and art for review. I also did some pre­lim­in­ary inter­ac­tion design work on upcom­ing fea­tures, and groomed our backlog.

Meanwhile, Alper developed some soft­ware for test­ing a web API with which we’ll be integ­rat­ing at some point.

Our remain­ing two cur­rent pro­jects are shorter con­sult­ing engage­ments. For TEDASUKE I did some rough sketch­ing of wire­frames and reviewed them with the cli­ent. For KOKORO we reviewed the out­comes of the last playtest and draf­ted a plan for the next sprint, which I also reviewed with the client.

That leaves Bycatch. We had a call to catch up on things. I replied to a ques­tion from a player over at the game’s BoardGameGeek forum. And Lekha con­tin­ued to work on an artist state­ment which should see the light of day soon­ish. Plus, she dropped off a bunch of cop­ies at NYC’s Compleat Strategist, a very cool shop to be car­ried by.

Alper was ill for most of week 310, but I’m happy to report he’s feel­ing bet­ter now. So bring on week 311!

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Week 308

Lots of work on KOKORO this week. We fin­ished the first pro­to­type and play­tested it with a bunch of teen­agers. Received plenty of help­ful feed­back. We need to do a proper eval­u­ation but my first impres­sion is that our decision to struc­ture the product around a con­ver­sa­tional UI has been validated.

For the remain­ing pro­jects on deck, we mostly took stock of things and planned next steps. I reviewed the KOKORO release can­did­ate with the whole team and made a list of final things to fix. Alper and I did some ser­i­ous plan­ning on the next phase of SHACHI, which should also cul­min­ate in a release can­did­ate. And I went over to TEDASUKE’s cli­ent to review the user jour­ney we mapped and to make a list of screens to mock up.

We had a call with Lekha to dis­cuss some upcom­ing mar­ket­ing efforts. Lekha has been work­ing on an artist state­ment which should go out soon. Shortly after our call Bycatch got “hunted” on Product Hunt.

Alper pub­lished a fun post on Slack’s emoji reac­tions fea­ture.

As the week ended, I star­ted writ­ing up my thoughts on the auto­mated game design sym­posium I atten­ded recently. Meanwhile Alper star­ted port­ing SHACHI to tab­let, and invest­ig­ated ways of improv­ing our iBeacon read­ing performance.

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Week 307

Last week Kars was on some­thing of a road show trav­el­ing the length of the Netherlands for pro­jects old and new. At the same time I was in the stu­dio work­ing with technology.

Kars went to Tilburg to pitch suc­cess­fully for fur­ther fund­ing on SHIJIMI. Now that that cycle is closed we can move for­ward with actu­ally design­ing stuff. Kars also cre­ated a user jour­ney for TEDASUKE. I went over to a ven­ture firm to see whether they need our ser­vices (it turns out they do).

We built a pro­to­type con­ver­sa­tional per­sonal coach for KOKORO using Foundation. I briefly tried out Foundation for Apps but found it too com­plex and too sparsely doc­u­mented for what it offers. For this pro­to­type speed of devel­op­ment and being able to test the assump­tions of the UI and the main loop are most important.

It was also nice to see Camparc fea­tured over at Playscapes. Last week we dis­cussed next steps for that pro­ject as well.

I went to an offi­cial Unity developers meetup held in Berlin on Thursday even­ing. It was inter­est­ing to see what dir­ec­tion Unity is devel­op­ing into and what kind of people use it. The audi­ence unfor­tu­nately was one of the least diverse I’ve seen at a tech event in ages. Given the fact that game devel­op­ment is so pop­u­lar, the fact that only a cer­tain type of people can get into it is pro­foundly unhealthy.

For SHACHI we are get­ting the new dir­ector of our first museum up to speed before we start the next sprint. That sprint will cul­min­ate in a release can­did­ate that will run in the museum for some time.

Kars also atten­ded a con­fer­ence on auto­mated game design organ­ised by the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. There were a bunch of pro­jects that flowed from our asso­ci­ate Joris Dormans’s work on engin­eer­ing emer­gence. We have been an industry part­ner of the pro­ject and have given input on the tools we use when design­ing games. We will be report­ing back some find­ings from this pro­ject here later as well.

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Slack’s emoji reactions are playful product design in action

Last week Slack launched their Emoji reac­tions fea­ture. This allows you to attach emoji to a mes­sage and for oth­ers to chime in and vote for an emoji or add their own. I am very excited by this for a num­ber of reasons.


We use Slack fairly heav­ily. We have chan­nels for spe­cific pro­jects and we have chan­nels that cre­ate a frame of shared pres­ence and cul­tural ref­er­ence for our close net­work. In these chan­nels we already use emoji and anim­ated GIFs quite intens­ively. They are visual frag­ments of emo­tion that can be quickly thrown across the digital divide. Many people like to trivi­al­ise these but they are in fact essen­tial non-verbal cues.

Slack nailed the product design of this new fea­ture. That much is to be expec­ted from a com­pany with their track record. What makes it par­tic­u­larly rel­ev­ant for me to write about here is that this fea­ture is a great example of play­ful design. Kars iden­ti­fied it as flux in action because: “This is adding vari­ab­il­ity to what used to be one-dimensional.”

With the emoji fea­ture Slack has iden­ti­fied an exist­ing beha­viour that they could bet­ter sup­port. People respond to each other with emoji and other images. This is fun but it can quickly become over­whelm­ing. Emoji reac­tions are just the right amount of func­tion­al­ity and struc­ture to allow people to more richly express them­selves. The res­ult is more express­ive inter­ac­tions and more effect­ive communication.

Emoji reac­tions is a great new fea­ture that will see a lot of use (at least from us) and it demon­strates how play­ful design is a cent­ral part of product design.

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Week 306

At the start of this week, we looked back on the playtest of pro­ject SHACHI’s second beta ver­sion. I went over to the cli­ent to dis­cuss the out­comes, and the whole team col­lab­or­ated on a plan for the next sprint. Meanwhile Alper took a moment to update the pro­ject financials.

More plan­ning happened on KOKORO. We’ll have roughly two weeks for the first design sprint on a product which will help teen­agers improve their men­tal health. I vis­ited the cli­ent to dis­cuss the plan for the sprint, and we col­lab­or­ated on a sketch of the product’s under­ly­ing system.

We’ll be explor­ing a con­ver­sa­tional UI for this pro­ject so copy is really import­ant. Because of this I imme­di­ately star­ted writ­ing in Gingko—a use­ful tool for this sort of thing because it sup­ports a mul­ti­di­men­sional doc­u­ment struc­ture. I also did a tiny bit of sketch­ing on the inter­face itself, but we’re keep­ing it super simple. Alper mean­while explored the best tech­no­lo­gies to pro­to­type with.

On Thursday I joined Erwin for a num­ber of Skype calls with teen­agers about KOKORO’s sub­ject matter—what com­mon causes of “hassle” are, how they deal with them, etc. We’re try­ing to involve the tar­get audi­ence in as many ways as pos­sible in this pro­ject. Challenging, but enjoyable.

Last but not least, I pro­cessed the out­comes of our work­shop with SodaProducties for pro­ject TEDASUKE into a sketch of a user jour­ney. I headed over to them as well to review and amend the sketch. The next step will be to clean it up, deliver it, and move on to sketch­ing of the product itself.

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Week 305

I was in the Netherlands all of last week for some joint work with Kars. I hope to be sta­tion­ary in Berlin for a bit now since all the back and forth does get a bit tir­ing and we have lots of stu­dio work to chew on ahead of us.


Kars gave a demo of SHACHI to a bunch of museums on Monday while I flew to Amsterdam. Tuesday we fin­ished some final things for the playtest on Wednesday. The playtest script was sim­ilar though this time we had a game that was nearly con­tent and fea­ture com­plete. Niels ‘t Hooft joined us to take a look at the Airborne Museum and to help us doc­u­ment the entire thing. We’re dis­cuss­ing the res­ults with the cli­ent and plan­ning our next steps but we are con­fid­ent that we are headed into the right direction.

Kars planned the first design sprint for KOKORO which is an inter­est­ing pro­ject we will talk more about later.

Thursday morn­ing we went straight into a user jour­ney work­shop for TEDASUKE. That cli­ent has a social enter­prise which they want to realign into some­thing where the people doing stuff can self-organize them­selves. We’ll be help­ing them come up with a strategy and concept that they can take to market.

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Week 304

Niels, Alper and Kars discussing project SHACHI

Yes, we work hard. But we man­age to enjoy ourselves as well, as you can tell from the nice photo above taken by Tim dur­ing a rare occa­sion: All of pro­ject SHACHI’s team phys­ic­ally cop­resent in our Utrecht studio.

Alper was in NL to run pro­ject KOKORO’s first work­shop together with me. We spent a full morn­ing with the cli­ent and vari­ous experts map­ping a new product idea using engage­ment loops. It was very fruitful.

We will be playtest­ing a new ver­sion of SHACHI soon, so the team spent a week pol­ish­ing, while I mainly con­cerned myself mak­ing sure all pre­par­a­tions for the test were made in time.

Halfway through the week Alper headed back to Berlin with a fresh batch of Bycatch cop­ies in tow.

Meanwhile, I did plan­ning work on the first design sprint for KOKORO and also for pro­ject TEDASUKE: We’ll be kick­ing this one off soon with a work­shop as well, but focused on map­ping user journeys.

Finally, I pub­lished a blog post on our work together with Reinwardt Academy on play­ful design for museum exhib­i­tions.

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Designing Playful Museum Exhibitions

In February of this year I went over to Reinwardt Academy to work with exhib­i­tion dir­ec­tion stu­dents. I was invited by Mario Jellema to share my per­spect­ive on the role of play and play­ful­ness in museums. I enjoy talk­ing to stu­dents, but I like work­ing hands-on with them even more. So we turned the ses­sion into a small work­shop. The res­ult was an inter­est­ing and enjoy­able after­noon, which demon­strates what can hap­pen if we put the activ­ity of play front-and-center in a design project.

I star­ted by talk­ing a bit about our work in the museum area, using Beestenbende as an example, and also the work we are cur­rently doing in pro­ject SHACHI for the Museums Association. Our approach is always to look for the activ­it­ies that are at the heart of an exhibition’s sub­ject, and use that as a start­ing point.


I then intro­duced the assign­ment: To redesign the fam­ous Art of this Century gal­lery so that it becomes (more) play­ful. The gal­lery was cre­ated by Peggy Guggenheim in the 1940s and was loc­ated on 57th Street in New York City. We chose this exhib­i­tion because it was at the time revolu­tion­ary for its mar­riage of the gallery’s interior archi­tec­ture with the art­works on dis­play. As such it would offer rich mater­ial for the assignment.

The Art of the Century gallery

We had a con­ver­sa­tion about what play and play­ful­ness are. We dis­cussed how play is Contextual, Carnivalesque, Appropriative, Disruptive, Autotelic, Creative and Personal. We also talked about how play­ful­ness is dif­fer­ent from play in that it’s an atti­tude, not an activ­ity which lacks the autotelic aspect of play itself. For this I made lib­eral use of Miguel Sicart’s excel­lent Play Matters, which I’ve covered in detail in a couple of blog posts already.)

As an example we looked at Ann Hamilton’s piece The Event of a Thread. The piece fea­tures on the cover of Play Matters, and I thought it would be a good fit for the work the stu­dents had ahead of them­selves, see­ing as how it is spa­tial, uses props, people and many other things to cre­ate a deeply play­ful work of art.

Ann Hamilton, Park Avenue Armory

The main point I wanted to get across was this: Play is like lan­guage; a way of under­stand­ing ourselves and the world around us. In this way it can be used as a tool along­side oth­ers in the design of an exhib­i­tion. Even if the exhib­i­tion isn’t to be a plaything (a game or a toy or a play­ground), vis­it­ors can be encour­aged to approach it with a play­ful atti­tude. If they are, then they might engage more deeply with the exhibition.

The inten­ded out­come of the exer­cise was a phys­ical scale model that one per­son can walk through with a fig­ur­ine, while describ­ing and act­ing out what it is they do, while another per­son describes and acts out the responses of the exhibition.

Being a strong adher­ent of dog­food­ing, I shared a video of a simple example I came up with myself. Starting from the curved can­vas wall that was part of the AotC gal­lery, I pro­posed mak­ing it adjustable by visitors.

Quickly whip­ping some­thing up with ready-to-hand mater­i­als (in this case LEGO and paper) and act­ing out the inter­ac­tions is a basic inter­ac­tion design tech­nique. I shortly talked about sketches versus pro­to­types. I wanted to be sure stu­dents under­stood that it would be fine for their mod­els to be more tent­at­ive and evoc­at­ive, than spe­cific and didactic. For this I referred to the clas­sic Sketching User Experiences by Bill Buxton, one of the few inter­ac­tion design text­books I know of that is as use­ful for play­ful design as it is for purely instru­mental projects.

Sketches versus prototypes

A final bit of design the­ory I shared was the notion of an iter­at­ive pro­cess. I encour­aged them to move swiftly from ideat­ing to sketch­ing to test­ing to reflect­ing and back to ideat­ing again. To that end, this is the struc­ture I gave them for the workshop:

Step 1: Ideate and pro­to­type one thing a per­son can do, solo.

Step 2: Pair up and play each other’s pro­to­types. Reflect on them. What was enjoy­able about it, and why?

Step 3: Come up with a new idea, based on the ori­ginal two pro­to­types but bet­ter. Make sure you test it and improve it at least once.

Step 4: Present (demo) the ideas to each other. Let people ask ques­tions and make sug­ges­tions for improve­ment. Makers don’t respond but just listen.

There was plenty of paper to work with. I also brought a bunch of LEGO, includ­ing a fresh batch of mini­figs still in pack­aging. The pleas­ure with which these were opened and admired was a nice way to segue into a more play­ful mind­set. I also brought a secret weapon: a Muji LEGO hole punch, which is a great tool for build­ing LEGO/paper hybrids. I wish I’d brought a couple more back from Japan.

We also provided large prin­touts of cop­ies from an exhib­i­tion cata­logue on the gal­lery for ref­er­ence and remix purposes.

Playful exhibition design workshop at Reinwardt Academy

This workshop’s focus was on get­ting acquain­ted with new con­cepts and pro­cesses. Even so, some inter­est­ing and enjoy­able out­comes were pro­duced. They included a pic­ture gal­lery in which the pieces rotate to fol­low a par­tic­u­lar vis­itor (which reminded me of Random International’s Audience), and a cyl­indrical space which rotates as the vis­itor moves around it (remin­is­cent of Villa Volta in Dutch amuse­ment park Efteling).

Playful exhibition design workshop at Reinwardt Academy

Playful exhibition design workshop at Reinwardt Academy

Students learned about play and play­ful­ness, sketch­ing player exper­i­ences and the iter­at­ive design pro­cess. But the most import­ant thing they learned was the import­ance of play­ing well together. This is a vital skill for suc­cess­fully test­ing mod­els such as the ones made in this work­shop. It requires ima­gin­a­tion and spon­taneity, sim­ilar to that found in improv theater.

For example, those play­ing the role of the exhib­i­tion had a tend­ency to tell the per­son play­ing the vis­itor what to do. It appears they would think of the cre­ated exper­i­ence as a lin­ear path to be fol­lowed. It takes some time to adjust to the notion of a visitor/player being the per­son who com­pletes the exper­i­ence. This also requires a par­tic­u­lar atti­tude from the player, to for­get about all they know as a co-creator and to really inhabit the role of a first-time vis­itor, as they move their fig­ur­ine through the model and nar­rate their actions.

I am con­vinced such skills can be prac­ticed by play­ing many dif­fer­ent things, with many dif­fer­ent people, all the while being mind­ful of how phys­ical stuff and the social rules come together to shape an exper­i­ence. It’s a valu­able skill to have as a designer of exhib­i­tions, or of any other thing used or inhab­ited by people. Workshops like this help develop those skills, and I always enjoy facil­it­at­ing them.

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Week 303

Last week Kars talked with the Airborne Museum about the upcom­ing playtest for SHACHI and also demoed our pro­gress to the cli­ent. We are plan­ning a minor pol­ish sprint while we wait for that playtest.

Kars also atten­ded the Hacking Habitat life-hack mara­thon about debt and facil­it­ated a ses­sion of Playing with Rules for a group of people involved with the subject.

In my absence Kars pre­pared the kick-off work­shop for our new pro­ject KOKORO where we will use the engage­ment loops model to found our design with.

Hubbub Nerd 101

In media appear­ances: both of us are fea­tured sep­ar­ately in Vrij Nederland’s rank­ing of the Netherlands’s top 101 nerds. We are hon­oured, kind of.

Presenting at ÜBERALL in Vienna

I spent last week in Vienna from Tuesday onwards to present at the ÜBERALL app con­gress about play­ful design. I com­bined the visit with a fact-finding mis­sion for Cuppings which proved to be extremely fruit­ful. I drank lots of cof­fee in Vienna’s excel­lent third wave cof­fee bars while pre­par­ing my presentation.

I then took the train to Amsterdam at the end of the week for a week of cli­ent engage­ments and pro­duc­tion work in the Netherlands.

Keep an eye out for Codepot a work­shop con­fer­ence in Warsaw this August where I will be giv­ing a work­shop on user engage­ment and app design.

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