You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘games’ tag.

Creationary is one of LEGO’s new games. It is a Pictionary game in which you build instead of draw. Playing against children or against adults was a totally different experience!

Lego's creationary

Creationary in the box.

Children:
Start with the easiest levels, keeping the best for last
Take pleasure from the build, even if their subject is not guessed correctly
Change teams or continue alone once team members leave
Did not notice that the adults forgot to award points to successful builders, proud as they were when their subject was guessed.

Adults:
Go for the higher levels, to challenge others and earn themselves more points
Get frustrated when their subject is guessed too fast
Are so concentrated on building that they do not hear correct guesses
Want to practice before playing to learn how to produce sophisticated builds
Discussed changing the rules to make the game more fair/fun

Objective: Develop a tactile toy for children between 6-7 years to learn language. Allowing them to ‘catch’ and ‘order’ words. This is one of the results of an evening of brainstorming and paper prototyping:

Modular telescope prototype.

It is a tool that is made up of different modules, allowing the children to capture objects, showing them to their classmates and telling a story about them. Turning the closed tubes up and down facilitates guessing games based on the sound the caught treasure makes. Other parts allow the taking of photographs, or have a display to show the pictures that are taken. Combining different hollow containers (object in display-tube placed behind a window-part) creates a cumulative experience of several aspects of one object-word.

The module sizes allow the sliding of parts into each other, creating one single tube that can be easily carried with a strap on the back. Connecting the corresponding cylinders allows for the creation of a network (with branching elements) enabling a game of sending words (‘Chinese whisper’), sorting objects in different categories and racing games along the coloured path.

During the Cultural Sunday on Whit Monday, one of the things I visited was the Dance Centre Utrecht. Modern ballet dancers performed an improvisation of which the rules were something as follows (accumulating as time passes):

  • walk forward and backward and lie down on the floor
  • crouch
  • turn around
  • change lanes by shifting sideways
  • introduce another movement
  • turn 90 degrees, allowing movement along the other axis (left, right)
  • move freely, allowing bends and curves

Each new rule would be added when one of the dancers would execute its action (crouching meant that everyone could crouch). The performers were stimulated to copy movements of their neighbours.

The rules lead to a very entertaining whole of movement in ascending complexity. A 3D Mondriaan painting that came to life. The copycat behaviour and later the changing of lanes brought about encounters between the performers, adding a clear game-character to the improvisation exercise. Also, personalities became apparent (or seemed to do so) when dominant dancers forced others to humbly step aside.

A good example of how simple rules, a number of “players” and an outlined space (ball room) lead to interesting game play.

Two modern dancers meet

I’ve been reading Bernard Suits’ “The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia” and will share some of the highlights.

On rules, Suits writes the following:

“Rules in games thus seem to be in some sense inseparable from ends, for to break a game rule is to render impossible the attainment of an end.” (p. 24). And: “I obey the rules just because such obedience is a necessary condition for my engaging in the activity such obedience makes possible.” (p. 31)

Thus, you need to adhere to the rules to be able to play and complete the game. Something that relates to the “lusory attitude” (p. 38) a player has when playing. There are always rules in games, even if they are hidden in agreements over starting times, place and opponent (p. 67). What then, I thought, if the game is as such that you can only win it once you start breaking its rules? I think the definition still holds, because that would imply another rule which states the breaking of the other rules. Indeed, Suits argues that

“it is not these manoeuvres [efforts to mislead in order to gain an advantage] that make the activities in which they occur games; it is the constitutive rules of those games which make these kinds of misdirection the useful manoeuvres that they are.” (p. 152).

Which also says something about the creative interaction that can take place with rules. This is possible because “[g]ame rules are not ultimately binding” (p. 26) and “other rules can always supersede the game rules” (p. 27) or one rule can be placed higher than the other.

A note about the assumption of roles in games is that they should always stay assumed. When the role is adopted as a serious business, the game seizes to be a game (p. 112). A reference to the fact that games are described as being outside everyday life, which Suits touches upon with his term ‘lusory attitude’. A possible outcome of assuming game roles in everyday life could be that the audience is forced to change their behaviour in acting along with the player to not disturb the illusion (p. 124).

This is something that should be remembered when designing urban games that involve the public. An example was the game Snatch Ball that I played at the Cultural Sunday, in which the designers explained a game instance in which one man decided to help the players for a longer period of time, ruining the game premise of persuading by passers in helping you.

The last Best Scene in Town workshop was introduced by interaction specialist Renato Valdes Olmos (Postmachina and My Name is E). He explained to the film and theatre professionals and interaction designers that were present that they should focus on context in their project. Not context in the sense of space and time necessarily (referring to the Nuit Blanche Festival on June 19th in Amsterdam in this case), but to the interaction with the material of the mobile phone.

Our portable telecommunication devices have been more and more fitted with sensors to register what their user is doing. Whether you move your phone into a certain direction, hold it to your ear or in your hand, it knows. Usefulness of these sensors becomes clear from the example of the screens that adjust brightness to the ambient light. However, phones are still unable to anticipate what you will do next.

The advice to think about this challenge was taken to heart by the participants. They worked with this insight by asking: Where would the visitors of the Nuit Blanche want to start the tour? What would they visit next? Where could they recharge their phones once these run out of batteries due to heavy sensor use? Thus mapping the expectations of the people present at the night of the Amsterdam festival, foregrounding logistics over entertainment in their design.

Consulting the phone to proceed the 7Scenes tour.

Link to the Dutch article at the weblog of Waag Society.

The second Best Scene in Town workshop in Waag’s Theatrum Anatomicum attracted staff from museums and advertising companies. Culture and commerce seem to be perfect ingredients to light up a spark. A clash of ideas was not so much noticeable however between individuals from these backgrounds. One did occur in the groups that were formed with mixed compositions.

Some group members wanted to develop a route along the budget addresses of the city, while others favoured a trip to Amsterdam’s gay-scene. In another group, someone wanted to create a route that enabled people to enact the criminal life of Willem Holleeder, while his group members were advocating a route for a couple in love celebrating their relationship.

Solutions were found when the groups moved on to other aspects of their route, such as interaction mechanics and location. Participants found out that their opinions on exiting interaction possibilities matched or that they agreed on the terrain where the route should be put down.

Best Scene in Town logo.

Introductory presentations were given by Juha van ‘t Zelfde (Visible Cities and VURB) and Sander Ejlenberg (MUSE).

The longer Dutch version of this article can be read here: http://blog.waag.org/?p=2865

Games that drew my attention at the Indigo showcase 2010:

Proun – racing a tight rope
The concept of racing on a cable while avoiding the geometrical shapes that are attached to it had an unsettling effect on my conception of space in racing games.

Am I racing through the game world? Or am I standing still and is the environment revolving around me? Flashback memories to an old Need for Speed game in which my car never seemed to move much on the screen, except from swivelling in the direction of the turns.

Proun developed by Joost van Dongen

Avoiding geometrical blocks in Proun

Website of the game by Joost van Dongen

XYZ – music visualiser
Even after numerous tips from developer Robert Hein Hooijmans, I did not manage to play the game correctly. Rather, I was becoming worse as I did not nearly reach the high score I set earlier. Then playing without understanding what I was doing.

But did this really matter when experiencing the interaction? No. Whether successfully gathering music blobs to the dread figure or not, interacting with the music visualisations was delightful, as was the selection of available songs.

Read more on the game’s website (in Dutch)

Project Amygdala – take a listen in someone else’s head
Blindfolded, I could explore the memories of a fictional person. They were grouped in three emotions: joy, anger and fear. The experience in the dark was not as frightful as I anticipated, as I was too engaged in navigating to let some of the more eerie sounds get to me.

It was intriguing how the shape of the environment that I formed in my mind (quite visual, including narrow alleys, busy squares lined with trees) completely did not match with the actual spatial setup of the game. Especially strange since this spacious layout was explained to me prior to playing. Nevertheless, I was not disoriented as the interaction with the spaced sounds worked very intuitive.

Project Amygdala

Specially designed chair The Explorer

Go to the portfolio of designer Raoul Matheron to hear the demo (spoken in Dutch, English website)

Best Scene in Town is a contest organised by Waag Society’s 7Scenes platform which allows users to create mobile routes. In three workshops, professionals are invited to cooperate with craftsmen in other fields in the creation of novel concepts for routes through Amsterdam. Winning submissions can be played at the Nuit Blanche Festival of 19 June.

Architects and game designers were the first to create GPS routes. Remarkable was that despite their professional experience in designing with the help of computer programmes, all participants grabbed paper and colour pens to elaborate their ideas. Maps were drawn in, post-its with notes were shifted to construct storylines and even 3D paper doodles were folded and decorated to enrich the brainstorm process.

The resulting collection of concepts included lively ideas to make chill zones out of grim nightlife areas, to spread stories by placing them in virtual bottles, and to show the multicultural aspects of the city by visiting its inhabitants. The spatial flower and insect structures out of paper sheets that were mentioned above, gave inspiration for a mysterious game in which red buttons and sound and light effects would be hidden throughout the city. Creating suspense over which city tumults would be daily business as usual and which would be part of the game.

How 7Scenes places route points in the landscape.

This workshop was kicked off with introductions by Martijn de Waal (The Mobile City) and Kars Alfrink (Hubbub)

Assisting at this workshop resulted in a blog article at blog.waag.org (in Dutch).

Tweets (Dutch and English)