Although the exhibition happened last fall, I finally have put documentation online for the exhibition of Flatlands at the Museum of Design Atlanta. A collaboration with architect Nathalie Pozzi, Flatlands is a game installation where two players search through an archive of 200 game boards to find the right one that will please a judge. Both players play cards that change and modify the judge’s criteria over time.
Flatlands was part of XYZ – Alternative Voices in Game Design, and Nathalie and I want to thank the curators Celia Pearce, Cindy Poremba, Adam Rafinski, John Sharp, and Akira Thompson for including us in the show and also for helping tremendously with the installation.
I’m especially excited about this amazing video shot and edited by The Raftermen in Atlanta. It gives a great sense of Nathalie’s space design and the overall experience of the game. You can more documentation about Flatlands, including complete game rules, on my project website.
I know it was a few months ago, but I’m just getting around to cataloging all of my sessions from the Game Developers Conference 2013. Below are links to videos and coverage of some of the panels and lectures with which I was involved. If you weren’t at the conference, this piece from the NY Times helps convey the vibe of the gathering, and includes a quote from me about how the industry is changing.
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After months of work with Nathalie Pozzi, Flatlands is now live and open to the public. These photos showcase the amazing work by Nathalie on the space design, including the delicious wall graphics by Rachel Morris. We were all extremely happy with the way that the game turned out.
The game design went through many revisions since we started work in August, and the final version is a game about discussion and aesthetics. Two players each choose a board from an “archive” of nearly 200 game boards and make short statements about them by playing cards. The cards are adjectives and nouns that recombine to make statements like “questionable / ideology,” “rectilinear / layout” or “childlike / colors.” Your goal is to make statements that apply to your board but not your opponent’s. A third “judge” player decides on who wins each round, and if you win with 3 of your boards you win the game. A sprinkle of ritual in the rules, such as the players bowing at the start and end of the game, lend a slightly metaphysical flavor to the proceedings.
At the opening, players took to Flatlands with gusto, playing games back to back the entire time. The social interaction among the players is left ambiguous in the rules, and so the games varied quite a bit. Some players focused on the cards to make the judgements, while most focused on discussion and conversation. Exchange ranged from free-flowing arguments to formal debates. But players reported that they were forced to look and think about the games in new ways. That’s me in the photo above barely besting Frank Lantz in the final match of the evening.
In the back of the gallery space, Babycastles has curated a handful of games from my company Gamelab: BLiX, Arcadia, Diner Dash, and LEGO Junkbot. After the bittersweet end of Gamelab in 2009, It was excellent to see these games recognized. Even hearing Michael Sweet’s soundtracks playing in the background of the show was very touching for me. The photo of these games above showcases the Babycastles artist-made arcade cabinets, as well as the architectural stacks of boardgame boxes Nathalie improvised during the installation.
Special thanks to Babycastles and curator Matthew Hawkins for making this possible. Flatlands is up through December 11, when we’re having a closing party. More info about that soon. In the meantime, enjoy these photos and come back here for more details.
In late August, Nathalie Pozzi and I met with Matt Hawkins, who had been working with the Babycastles Arcade, an independent exhibition space in Queens that had been making waves by putting together shows of independent and experimental games. Matt told us that Babycastles was going to have a Manhattan exhibition space for a few months and he wanted us to put together something for it.
More than three months later, we are presenting Flatlands – tomorrow! We wanted to create a physical game that made use of my collection of 200 or so boardgames. After a few months of frenzied playtesting and few weeks of construction and installation, we are looking forward to the opening. The final design is a game about dueling aesthetics. You select a game board from the archive and construct statements about it, hoping to sway the judge and defeat your opponent.
Details about the opening are here at the Babycastles website and at the Facebook event page. Thanks to Rachel Morris for working with us on the graphic design, the Babycastles people for their support, and all of our playtesters and installers!