Wednesday, 24 October 2012

playful 2012

last friday i was invited by priyanka to my first playful conference at conway hall. cup of tea in hand and josie long as compere, i was ready for whatever the day had in store.

the first speaker, mark sorrell, development director of game design studio hide & seek, began by explaining that the best computer games are the ones that are computer mediated rather than video-led. the enjoyment still hangs on players' interactions with each other. mark gave examples of this with games such as b.u.t.t.o.n. he says that the thing that developers should be focussing on is how to make games that people don't have to learn how to play, such as johann sebastian joust, which can easily be picked up just by watching other players.

anab jain from superflux then spoke about faerie stories for the 21st century. she explained that the stories are not about fairies but are instead about the worlds in which they live. this allows us to review our own world from a different perspective. a key sign of adulthood is when we start normalising the fantastic.

hannah donovan &
a man in a rad jumper
hannah donovan, one of the founders of this is my jam, spoke to us about craft. this was a particularly interesting one for me as i am moving from my handmade craft background towards learning a more digital craft - it's the future! according to hannah; craft operates within design guidelines. myspace allowed you to craft within a design but also allowed you to design (queue nostalgic sigh). the thing about digital craft is that it is as handmade as the collages of pop groups on your bedroom wall but in the same way it is not one of a kind. i think it's really interesting to explore the balance of physical and digital craft.

einer sneve martinussen gave an engaging talk about finding new ways to blow up the internet. he spoke about the amount of technological power in commuters' pockets and of how well integrated technology is into society. it is no longer something that we stop to engage with. his company, voy, have done some beautiful work around the idea of how wireless is experienced.

siobhan reddy from media molecule gave me my first look at the possibilities that the playstation vita has to offer with their addictive-looking platform game tearaway. one particular thing that siobhan said that stuck with me is that bad implementation is different from a bad idea.

simon cutts gave a talk that took me back to my camberwell graphics days, describing concrete poetry as a field of play.

bennet foddy's moto is 'no pain, no game' and he made a very convincing case for why suffering and humiliation are necessary in gaming. not all play is fun and playing with the player is the prerogative of game designers.

techsquad is the collective name of three artists from derby who spoke about their gallery installation which involved interaction, visuals, sounds and joysticks.

holly gramazio, another hide & seeker, spoke to us about clapping games, highlighting the social element and how joyful it is as an activity. danish clapping is worth checking out for those that haven't seen it.

dough globe
mint digital's grad scheme, mint foundry, had four bright guys who came to playful to talk through the project they had worked on whilst on their placement (placement props from me btw). their task was to make a toy with a reason to exist. they took us through their creative journey and it was really interesting to see the level of innovation that led to their sour dough toy.

tom ewing from brainjuicer gave the final talk of the day on the subject of gamification for market research. he's a fellow daniel kahneman fan (there is little thinking around decisions) so he had me at mopopoly - the game to find out about people's household habits.

it was a fantastically fun and interesting day. i feel that i took a broad range of ideas away from it and hope to get involved with future talks. the creative industries have so much opportunity to bring play into people's lives, rather than getting tied up with digital trends it is important not to lose sight of the possibilities that lie in the business of play.

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