BackChatter, the Twitter-based conference game I created with Local No.12, has had its run at Freeplay, the Austrailia-based independent game festival. In this blog post, John Siesma, who adapted the game to the festival, talks about what did and didn’t work with the game.
It’s a funny feeling seeing your game design taken up by others – like your baby going off to college. Of course all game players partake in some form of open source culture, as they play with the structures of a game, often changing them as they devise home rules, design levels, or engage in other forms of game modding. I’ve actually never been part of a bona fide open source code release before, and I can’t wait to see what others do with the game.
If you’ve got a conference or event that might use a bit of interstitial play to spice things up and get your attendees interacting with each other, now you can put together your own BackChatter game. We’re launching a guidebook for hosting and running the game in the very near future. Keep your eye out for it right here!
It’s official. After more than 15 years of adjunct teaching at places like MIT, NYU, School of Visual Arts, and Parsons School of Design, I am leaving my life as an academic floozy and finally settling down with just one program. Starting this fall, I will be an official professor at the NYU Game Center, a new interdisciplinary center run by my longtime friend and colleague Frank Lantz. Other faculty include Jesper Juul, Katherine Isbister, and Charles Pratt. Over the last year, the Game Center has built an impressive game library, hosted a spectacular lecture series, and put on a number of events – from a game art exhibition to arcade game tournaments. Several classes are offered and a Masters program in game design is in the works. It’s a great place to be and I’m super-psyched to be part of this evolving project.
Just in case it seems I’m hanging up my game dev hat, rest assured I won’t be leaving the world of making games anytime soon. I am currently working with Curious Pictures, Fresh Planet, and Pentagram Design on commercial games, and I’m gluttonously overscheduling my time with independent projects, from physical games with architect Nathalie Pozzi to Local No.12′s Twitter games to my recent film with David Kaplan.
You can read the official press release about my new position at NYU here.
In February, Nathalie Pozzi and I premiered our first collaboration, the physical game Sixteen Tons, at the Art History of Games conference in Atlanta. We also gave a couple talks. And now the conference has posted all of the videos online.
- You can watch me speak on the meaning of Sixteen Tons and Nathalie talk about performative architecture here.
- Our entertainingly contentious panel with Jason Rorhr and Brenda Braithwait is here.
Here is where you can find all of the videos from the conference. Shout out to John Sharp + SCAD and Ian Bogost + Georgia Tech for putting together an amazing event and commissioning our game.
Recently posted online: a radio interview of Nathalie Pozzi and I that took place during the Come Out & Play festival. We hold forth on our game Cross My Heart + Hope to Die, the clash of our design disciplines, and the relevance of ancient mythology to pop culture, all against an audio background of noisy street gamers. This link will take you to the page (our interview will be at the top of your screen). Enjoy!
Cross My Heart + Hope to Die is a life-sized labyrinth game about desire and betrayal inspired by the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. It premiered at the Come Out & Play Festival of street games this summer, where it won the special Jury Prize for outstanding design. Created with architect Nathalie Pozzi. (photo © lia bulaong)
DRIFT is an architectural proposal created with Clara Klein & Nathalie Pozzi for the Sukkah City competition. Visitors play a game in a floor-to-ceiling grid by tracing paths and moving felt orbs. We weren’t selected as a winner from among the 600 competitors, but it has been made clear to me that in the world of architecture, proposals can be considered works in and of themselves. So here it is.
Subjectstoday.com posted this snippet from the “Games for Change” panel, teasing out a disagreement between Asi Burak and myself. Watch it here.
Just posted online: a talk I gave earlier this year at New School Univeristy about games for change, on a panel with Asi Burak (designer of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict game Peacemaker) and David Martz from Muzzy Lane software. You can see the entire video here, but if you’re short on time, you can skip ahead to my bit that starts at Chapter 7 – just click on the dashboard underneath the main video window. After that is Q&A with the audience.
My presentation focused on different design strategies that games can take relative to social issues. I use examples from my own work to look at games that simulate their subject matter, games that embody emerging forms of literacy through their play, and games that seek to subvert a larger social context through play.
Too often, a “game for change” means a game that didactically delivers a political message to its players, or at best, a game that seeks to simulate its subject matter in a straightforward way. Although changing society through games is not my main modus operandi, for designers that want to do so, there are other ways forward. I’d love to see more designers wrestling with the sociocultural context of their game, employing a rigorous theory of change by which they think their game will have a social impact, and also letting their game be a game by trusting play itself as an agent of change.
Watch the video for details.