DiGRA 2013 Talks


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

Pronunciation Book

“Empathy is the key to science. You don’t know that when you begin.” Tumble into the rabbit hole that is the Pronunciation Book YouTube channel, which has been counting down to…something…for the past 47 days. You may have stumbled across the Pronunciation Book before the countdown began, when all it was doing was telling you how to pronounce things like Quinnipiac, Enjolras, and banana. But since July 9th, 2013, the channel has taken a decidedly mysterious turn. Sarah Brin (@dinosaurrparty) of The Creators Project writes:

It may be possible that Pronunciation Book is not so much a game as it is an alternative reality. More specifically, it may be possible that the words and phrases repeated in the series are telling a story. However fragmented and sometimes Pynchonian the narrative may appear, this mode of storytelling may be a new development in the field of serial narratives. (Charles Dickens, Vladimir Nabokov and many other writers were known to have published their work in regular installments, too.)

This is all pure conjecture, of course, and we’ll have to wait September 24th (77 days from July 9, 2013) to find out whether or not there is a message to be found within Pronunciation Book. (The Creators Project)

More: Unfiction: Pronunciation Book – Countdown 77

SXSW PanelPicker: Reality Games to Unleash DIY and Maker Cultures

Want to learn more about Reality? Want another good reason to go to Austin for SXSW 2014? If so, please head on over to the SXSW PanelPicker and vote for our Interactive Panel, “Reality Games to Unleash DIY and Maker Cultures.” The panel features members from our expanding Reality team, including Donald Brinkman of Microsoft Research, Tracy Fullerton of USC, Jason Pace of University of Washington, and me (of OCAD University).

SXSW panels are selected based in part on how many votes they receive via the PanelPicker. So please do vote for our panel — we want an excuse to come down there and see you!