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Slides and notes for Transmutation at Raum Schiff Erde 2010

So I’ve returned from a short but won­der­ful trip to Ham­burg (too short, real­ly). Below you’ll find slides plus notes for the talk I gave at Raum Schiff Erde, a con­fer­ence put togeth­er by a group of Reboot adepts. I have to say, I thor­ough­ly enjoyed the laid-back atmos­phere, the curi­ous venue and the nice talks. Many thanks to Sebas­t­ian, Matthias and the rest for the crew for invit­ing me, and for all their hard work.

The talk’s title refers to alchemists’ quest to turn lead into gold, which some­times feels sim­i­lar to what we’re try­ing to do with per­va­sive games in pub­lic urban places.1 To sum­ma­rize: I start by talk­ing about the fact that games are essen­tial­ly use­less, and that this means applied game design should look for use­ful results in sec­ond order effects. I argue that the con­tri­bu­tion of urban games lies pri­mar­i­ly in the increased diver­si­ty of use of our streets, which is a good thing in itself. I talk about the care design­ers need to take with the games they deploy, since not every­one is look­ing to play and we should respect that. Play­ing games is a vol­un­tary thing by def­i­n­i­tion. Towards the end I go into dif­fer­ent strate­gies for using games to increase sys­temic aware­ness using sev­er­al games as exam­ples. I wrap up with a look at reward sys­tems we com­mon­ly find in games like Foursquare, which now serves as tem­plates for a lot of work in this area. I feel that this leads peo­ple away from what game design is about in the first place: cre­at­ing inter­est­ing activ­i­ties.

View a video of this talk at Ham­burg University’s Pod­cam­pus, and view the slides and notes for this talk at SlideShare.

Update: below is a video of this talk on Vimeo.

Some rec­om­mend­ed sources that served as input for this talk:

  1. In the sense that the ini­tial aim might be unat­tain­able, but the insights we gain along the way might be worth­while in itself. []
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