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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.


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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