Cyberpunk: Past and Future

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This Friday, Geoff Long and I will run a collaborative storytelling workshop during Cyberpunk: Past and Future, a special event at USC Visions & Voices co-curated by professors Henry Jenkins, Scott Fisher, and Howard Rodman. Later, we’ll be publishing some of the material created by our participants (a stellar group including seminal cyberpunk figures Rudy Rucker, Nalo Hopkinson, and Bruce Sterling) as a special “Cyberpunk 2.0 Story Sparks Kit.” Stay tuned — and please join us if you can!

The literary and cultural movement known as cyberpunk began in the early 1980s when a confluence of speculative-fiction writers remapped and reinvigorated their genre—and much more. Inspired by a rapidly changing present—the beginnings of the World Wide Web; the proliferation of man/machine interfaces; the global spread of Japanese culture—these writers integrated technology, politics, literature and cultural theory to create a genre that not only predicted the future but also helped shape it.

A day-long event will bring together seminal figures of the cyberpunk movement, including Rudy Rucker (the Ware Tetralogy), Nalo Hopkinson (Brown Girl in the Ring, Midnight Robber) and Bruce Sterling (Bicycle Repairman, Taklamakan, Mirrorshades), along with figures from the worlds of film, music, technology, architecture and cultural theory, to discuss the cultural moment cyberpunk incited.

The afternoon will be devoted to “Cyberpunk 2.0”: small-group world-building and storytelling sessions in which USC students can collaborate with cyberpunk’s founding figures. Teams will [construct] a story and decide on a means of presenting that story to the conference participants. Led by Jeff Watson (School of Cinematic Arts) and Geoff Long (Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism). Participants will include the morning’s panelists, plus Stacey Robinson (Black Kirby Project). (USC Visions & Voices)

Additional information and background, courtesy Henry Jenkins, here.

DiGRA 2013 Talks

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I’m presenting a paper and a workshop at this year’s Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) Conference in Atlanta. The paper, “A Reality Game to Cross Disciplines: Fostering Networks and Collaboration,” co-written with Benjamin Stokes, Tracy Fullerton, and Simon Wiscombe, “introduces a new possibility: that games can directly shape real-world networks, even as they educate.” We illustrate this possibility via a case study and network analysis of our pervasive game, Reality. You can download a copy of the paper from the proceedings here.

The workshop, “(Re)conquering Space: a Reality Game Workshop” (Aug 28 @10:15am), co-presented with Simon Wiscombe, is a remix of my “Stirring $#!!* Up With Games” talk. This is a hands-on workshop where we’ll be coming up with prototypes for games that address lived environments and spaces such as the DiGRA conference itself.

Readers who are interested in a more complete breakdown of the design approach discussed in the workshop may want to check out my dissertation, “Reality Ends Here: Environmental Game Design and Participatory Spectacle” (.pdf), or the project page for Reality.

Here’s an extended description of the workshop:

This workshop is intended for those who wish to explore how games can be designed to directly impact the social and cultural fabrics of lived environments such as public institutions, workplaces, and neighborhoods. In specific, this workshop is about how artists, entertainers, educators, policy-makers, and activists can design games to embolden and empower communities to actively engage in the creative construction of their own realities.

The kinds of games explored in this workshop vary wildly in terms of the ways in which they employ technology. Many draw more on the praxis of party games, Happenings, and Situationism than they do on traditional computational games. What all the games mentioned and imagined in this workshop have in common is that they are woven into or layered upon the lived environments of their players, and have an immediate impact on the ways that these environments are used. These kinds of games go beyond merely calling for change by actually bringing it about through playful interventions that both embody and enable transformation, discovery, and social engagement.

Attendees of this workshop will emerge with an understanding of the key principles of reality game design, including:
1. Design Around the Local
2. Action, Not Simulation
3. Optimize for Agency
4. The Social is the Medium
5. Iteration and Permeability

This is a hands-on workshop. It does not require any special technical abilities, but it does demand a willingness to play and experiment. Working in groups, attendees will use a flexible methodology to create prototypes for reality games. Using the play experiences that take place in the workshop as a touchstone, broader questions regarding the relationship between reality games and social/cultural impact will be addressed and discussed.

More info: DiGRA 2013

Making meaning with images: tools, resources and inspiration for visual communication

Image manipulation, found footage, guerrilla filmmaking, and video editing notes for my IML students.

Image Manipulation Tools

  • Adobe Photoshop The industry standard bitmap image editor. If you’re a student, your school might have an arrangement with Adobe that will entitle you to a copy. If not, well… you could try looking elsewhere. I’m just saying.
  • Paint.net (Windows) A good basic image editor that can do a lot and is completely free. “Paint.NET…features an intuitive and innovative user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. An active and growing online community provides friendly help, tutorials, and plugins.”
  • The Gimp Cross-platform open-source image editor. Almost as powerful as Photoshop, and 100 percent free (and legal). Slightly steeper learning curve than Paint.net.

Good Places to Find Images

Inspiration and Food For Thought

Miscellaneous

Technical Support