PLAY, the short film I co-created with director David Kaplan about a future in which everything is a game, has been selected to be part of the PBS Online Film Festival. I’m not sure what we might win, but if you visit our film’s page, be sure to click on the LIKE button, which acts as a vote for the audience award.
Also, let me take this opportunity to say that PLAY is not a prefiguration of what is now called gamification. At least for me, it is not meant to be a film that envisions some kind of game-like future which may or may not come to pass. In fact it is the opposite – it is not a film about games, but rather a film that uses the idea of games as a metaphor to talk about what it feels like to live in our alienating hypermediated society. Of course it goes without saying that you are free to interpret the film however you like. Enjoy.
On Feb 24, I will be presenting a screening of PLAY, the short film I created with director David Kaplan at the NYU Game Center. I’ll be there to chat about the film, and so will David – unless his work directing an episode of the Current TV series Bar Karma interferes. (That’s the show Will Wright executive produced, where the audience helps write the plot.)
PLAY is set in a future where the lines between videogames and reality have become blurred, and it follows a protagonist from game to game to game, which exist inside each other like nested Russian dolls. The film premiered in 2010, and it has screened at a number of festivals, including the Puchon International Film Festival, where it won Best Short.
Working on PLAY – a bona fide film – taught me a lot about games and film, and all of the problems games are having trying to replicate the pleasures of cinema. It was incredibly instructive to observe the process of filmmaking firsthand, which is radically different from that of game development. And the independent film world – often much envied by game indies – has not at all been what I was expecting.
There’s going to be a lot to talk about with PLAY. Information about the screening is here on the Game Center website. Hope to see you there!
The website of the Independent Film Channel has a brief but smart piece on PLAY, the short film I created with director David Kaplan. Take that, Roger Ebert!
Video from my appearance in Berlin is online. Games Culture Circle has posted a condensed version of the entire talk show experience here. It’s deliciously nerdy and wonderfully intellectual as only the Germans can pull off.
Don’t let the introductory bit in German fool you – within a minute, the event switches over to English. I’m the first guest up, and you can see me play Ninja with the audience, chat about the film PLAY I created with David Kaplan, and get extremely excited – perhaps a bit too excited – about game design.
The other guests include Ahmet Acar, a business consultant who makes his clients play games, and Iepe Rubingh, the artist who invented Chess Boxing. (I have posted about my Chess Boxing exploits here.)
I make appearances during the Charades montage in the middle, but you can also catch my future prognostications about games during the final Q&A around 23:20. Thanks, Games Culture Circle for excellent documentation of this truly enjoyable event.
As Nathalie and I sit in the Berlin airport waiting for our substantially delayed flight, it seems like a good time to put together this post on our visit.
I was invited to speak by Games Culture Circle, an event series organized by Thorsten Wiedemann and Julian Kucklich. The evening was talk-show style, with informal conversation, game competitions involving a Pac-Man-shaped cake, and an impromptu Ninja game I ran with volunteers from the audience. I also screened PLAY, the short film I created with director David Kaplan.
One of the other onstage guests was Iepe Rubingh, the founder of Chessboxing, and after the talk he invited me to train in his gym. The photos below showcase both sides of the sport, which alternates between rounds of speed Chess and Boxing. The boxing training was intense – I have studied martial arts but never boxing – but I was completely slaughtered in the Chess matches. It was a pleasure to be so expertly brutalized. Chessboxing is an amazing act of game design – not just the game itself, but the way that Iepe has had to create an international business, establish legal guidelines and rulebooks, and engender a culture of Chessboxing clubs around the world. What makes a sport a sport is not the game itself but the culture around the game, and from Circle Rules Football to Chessboxing, the creation of a new sport is truly an amazing accomplishment. Now that I have trained in the club, Iepe has promised me an official member’s t-shirt. I definitely plan on training again next time I am in Berlin.
The following day, Nathalie and I conducted a half-day game design workshop with Invisible Playground. Sebastian Quack organized the event, which involved playing and analyzing Ninja and a tabletop version of Sixteen Tons, as well as a game Sebastian is designing called Spyland, which is a real-world version of Chris Hecker’s Spy Party. The final portion of the workshop involved the participants creating site-specific games at a large outdoor park.
We did tourist things as well (primarily Nathalie-driven tours of contemporary architecture and trendy shoe stores) and overall thoroughly enjoyed our days and nights in Berlin. Thanks to our hosts, students, and everyone that we met. We’ll be back.
The short film PLAY I created with director David Kaplan premiered this week at the Puchon International Film Festival. And we won top award for best short among 75 short films! Here’s the official festival site awards page.
I’m a novice in the film world, so I’ll try and not let this early win spoil me. David and I are hard at work on the feature version of the film script. If you haven’t seen the film, you can view it here on YouTube or here on the official ITVS website. We also have a Facebook Fan Page for the film.
And here’s David on the red carpet. Enjoy.