I attended October’s lunchtime talk at Pervasive Media Studio by Simon Johnson of Free Ice Cream and igfest – about working in real world games. His big hit was the city-based zombie chase game, 2.8 Hours Later (these were heavier with social commentary than I had realised at the time – second version was about becoming an asylum seeker).
I loved his thought that playing a game is like running on a different operating system. And that it can help you see features of the existing operating system – say of a city – that would not otherwise be apparent. Creating a game was also described not as storytelling, but as creating a context in which people build their own stories.
This seems very relevant to thinking about teaching in the digital era, where dissemination of information is no longer such a key concern. We should be designing experiences which shake people out of their set patterns of thinking and allow them to explore new ones, helping them to try out new operating systems, creating rich environments in which they build their own stories.
- Simon emphasised the idea of fun – not “serious gaming”. Similar to Nic Whitton’s emphasis on playfulness?
- His Cargo game, a city escape game focussed on how to build/undermine trust in a group, was designed to create a chaotic environment to test disaster relief principles.
- igfest – a festival of interesting games that ran for several years. I think there were more frequent meet ups too. This gave game developers a play-testing community by regular events and some regular participants even became game designers.
- Hat game – gps tracked bowler hat, whoever kept it longest would win (but there were unintended consequences… the hat-wearer ran away – the prize was too big)
- theTweeture – such an advanced bot that people thought it was a puppet
- A couple of the games were intended to help people conceptualise complex ideas: a hoop-rolling game set in a quantum computer; Calibration which puts the scale of the solar system in human terms.
- He’s developing a conference-based game for the ODI to be played at the UN conference in March.