Folks into civically-engaged games: Progetto Ustica is a documentary / serious game that addresses the massacre of Itavia Flight 870. It’s a playable piece on civic memory, and it’s very much worth trying.… Read more
Anab Jain brings the future to life, creating experiences where people can touch, see and feel the potential of the world we’re creating. Do we want a world where intelligent machines patrol our streets, for instance, or where our genetic heritage determines our health care? Jain’s projects show why it’s important to fight for the world we want. Catch a glimpse of possible futures in this eye-opening talk.
“What kind of stories and plots do researchers of Human Computer Interaction draw on when they make fictions?” The way we tell narratives influences the way we think, also in science. So interesting to see some good narratological study applied to the discourse of HCI. Mark Blythe’s CHI 2017 paper is available in open access at https://dl.acm.org/authorize?N36804… Read more
We were promised flying cars but we got Twitter instead. That’s the common complaint against science fiction writers and the visions of the future they presented us in the 20th century. But sci-fi authors did imagine something like the Internet and social media before they existed. And we might be able to learn something from the writers who tried to imagine our daily lives. Cory Doctorow, Ada Palmer, Jo Walton and Arizona State University professor Ed Finn look at the cyberpunks and their predecessors. And artist Paul St. George talks about why he’s fascinated by a Skype-like machine from the Victorian era.
Designers continually describe design as a way of organizing complexity or finding clarity in chaos. Synthesis reveals a cohesion and sense of continuity; synthesis indicates a push towards organization, reduction, and clarity. Yet despite the acknowledged importance of this phase of the design process, there continues to appear something magical about synthesis when encountered in professional practice.
Nazlican Goksu is a Design Researcher at IDEO San Francisco, and she’s particularly interested in systemic challenges, especially those that involve urban design. In this blog post, she wonders “How does play affect how we behave in cities? What are the social and physical effects of play in urban design? If we played more in cities, would we be happier? Fall in love more often?”… Read more
In recent years, game developers have been fusing the research and process of journalism with the kind of interactive storytelling that games do best in order to create unique and moving experiences. "We Are Chicago" (Culture Shock Games) and "1979 Revolution: Black Friday" (iNK Stories) are two really interesting examples
Satirical and persuasive games are becoming some sort of staple in recent elections, and the latest one in the UK is no exception. CorbynRun, playable for free at https://corbynrun.com/ as well as on iOS and Android, is a nicely crafted endless run. But the question is: does it effectively convey a political message through its UX and level design?… Read more
A really interesting CHI paper by Ann Light, Irina Shklovski and Alison Powell. “What should designers do with their design skills and orientation to the future as right-wing populism sweeps through politics; climate predictions worsen; mass migration (within/across countries) escalates refugee numbers; new classes of automation threaten workers’ jobs and austerity policies destabilize society?”
A paper by Katherine Isbister, Kaho Abe and Michael Karlesky, at CHI 2017. “We present a strong concept for design: Interdependent Wearables (for play): wearables designed to require shared attention and mutual awareness, with interdependent functionality that encourages and rewards collocated interaction. The concept arose through design, development, and public exhibition of Hotaru, a collocated social game that uses wearables as game controllers. Hotaru has been shown in festivals and also formally playtested with 62 individuals. To more fully articulate the Interdependent Wearables strong concept, we compared this system’s design with wearable and embodied systems for play and other purposes, and drew upon relevant HCI theory. The work is of benefit to those in the HCI/UX community … Read more
Artifact is a journal focused on practice-based design research, and aims to explore conditions, issues and tasks pertaining to design development in a broad sense. In this volume of Artifact, different authors explore “the design concept”, and the designers’ social activities.… Read more
Patrick Prax recently defended his Ph.D. thesis at Uppsala University, about co-creation, game design and alternative media. When are players able to participate to the creation of a game world and its rules? How can they appropriate and subvert them? Which meaning is generated?… Read more
What if we could drop medical students right into the lives of aging people? “We Are Alfred” uses a VR headset, headphones, and a hand-tracking device to immerse users in the story of a 74-year-old patient — the titular Alfred.… Read more
1979 Revolution: Black Friday was finally published this weekend – an hybrid of documentary game, adventure and narrative set in Iran during the political unrest leading to the fall of the Shah.… Read more
Film director Chris Milk has recently called VR “an empathy-machine”. But is it that simple? Elisabeth Sutherland (MIT) wrote an impressive thesis with Fox Harrell to take a deeper critical look at that claim. … Read more
The Great Palermo is a free interactive ballad about street food, folklore and culture of the city of Palermo, Sicily. With a kaleidoscopic, iterative approach to the game experience, it nicely demonstrates how folk stories and traditional narratives may be transposed digitally, without losing the “feel” and structure of oral storytelling.
The Great Palermo is available for PC, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS.… Read more
How do we interact with physical objects during LARPs and mixed/tabletop role-playing games? Costumes, computers, pen and paper are not neutral and passive elements, but change and are changed during RPG sessions. They work together with narrative and ludic elements: if we think about things as social elements, how do they make role-playing games work?
Rafael Bienia, PhD at Maastricht University, draws upon the fields of game studies, and science, technology and society studies to conduct ethnographic fieldwork among role-playing communities in Germany.… Read more
Christy Dena and Eric Zimmerman are awesome game designers, educators and writers. And it’s really great reading Christy interviewing Eric about his design approach, and his relationship with the humanities: “I think my background as an artist has helped me always see games as a form as culture”.… Read more
A free ebook by Karen Schrier and colleagues, it provides research and techniques for designing games for a variety of curricular needs. In particular, I’ve found interesting two chapters about games and empathy – one in the context of teaching history, the other about games and ethics. … Read more
Design fiction, writes Josh Tanenbaum, uses fictional depictions of future technology to tell a story about the world in which that technology is situated: it uses narrative structures to explore and communicate the possible futures for technology. Julian Bleecker of Near Future Labs is one of the first and foremost proponents of these techniques, and he has recently collaborated with Mobile Life Stockholm to create a fictional “IKEA Catalog from the future”. He writes “In the end, our Design Fiction Ikea catalog is a way to talk about a near future. It is not a specification, nor is it an aspiration or prediction. The work the catalog does – like all Design Fictions – is to encourage conversations about the kinds of near futures we’d prefer, even if that requires us to represent near future… Read more
Illya Szilak has reviewed Marie-Laure Ryan’s new volume Narrative as Virtual Reality 2. She writes “This lucidly written updated book addresses virtual reality (VR) not as a medium associated with specific hardware, but more loosely as a form of storytelling primarily concerned with immersion and interactivity, […] placing VR in a continuum of storytelling and media (visual art, conventional and digital literature especially hypertext, and computer games) and pre-digital immersive experiences like Baroque architecture, children’s make-believe, ritual, and some forms of theater such as Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty”.… Read more
Aki Järvinen is an accomplished game theorist (I personally like his paper on applied ludology), and he just posted an insightful blog on VR and game design. He writes: “Honestly, is VR all we can come up with when speculating about the future of games? My point here is to provoke discussion on for what kind of games is VR the probable future, and perhaps more interestingly, for what kinds of games it perhaps is not. Please note that the timeline I am talking about here is around 2 to 5 years: How will fun and games change? What will Santa bring, come 2017, 2018, or even 2021?”… Read more
“SC2VN is a visual novel about the South Korean Starcraft 2 scene. You play as Mach, a foreign semi-pro trying to make it in eSports”. This a an example of the relatively little-known interactive-novel genre, and I’m particularly interested in how it meta-reflects on game culture by telling a story about professional Starcraft players. From the Ars Technica review: “The game does a transcendent job of matching big-budget documentaries in communicating the love of e-sports”.… Read more
Petri Lankoski and Staffan Björk have edited a book titled “Game Research Methods: An Overview”. Since I’ve been giving advice to students about conducting game-related research, this might be a precious (and free) resource. From the official page: “This book provides an introduction to various game research methods that are useful to students in all levels of higher education covering both quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods. In addition, approaches using game development for research is described. Each method is described in its own chapter by a researcher with practical experience of applying the method to topic of games”.… Read more
The Game Educator’s Handbook, edited by J. Tuomas Harviainen, Mikko Meriläinen, and Tommi Tossavainen, is “a cooperation between gamers, game designers, game educators, researchers and people working with problem gaming”. From the official webpage: “After reading, you will have a better understanding of what gaming is all about, why it interests people, why it’s addictive, and why it’s at the same time good in many ways. The book is intended as a resource to improve game literacy and is written for all types of educators, parents, schools, libraries, youth organisations, and anyone with connections to children, adolescents or adults that play digital games”.
It is published under a CC BY 4.0 licence, and may be downloaded for free … Read more
Today Davey Wreden, co-creator of the acclaimed game The Stanley Parable, will publish his new game titled The Beginner’s Guide. There are still very few details about the game itself, but it has been described as “narrative and first-person”.… Read more
Oliver Campbell writes on The Escapist: “Video games are so young that we’re only now beginning to understand what they can do. Do not misunderstand me when I say that video games are the final frontier of storytelling. Games allow us to live the experience, but this current incarnation is just the first step onto that unexplored frontier. Like other expressive storytelling arts, games have struggled, and will continue to struggle through a long period of growth in order to reach their full potential. We’re hardly done with the medium, in fact we’re just beginning”.… Read more
“Separated”, by Rxi, is a moving tale that casts players into the role of a monster incapable of communicating with humans. After being awakened by fireflies of the crypt, the Monster will have to explore a city just looking for answers, and it is not conscious of looking like a freak, making people run away screaming every time it tries to communicate. Marco Alba writes: “Separated is a game that explains in a few minutes what racism is. A bedtime story that should be played by every child. Prepare your handkerchiefs and played Separated”.
The ICIDS page mentions an article from The Guardian entitled “Interactive book apps – 10 of the best”, with reviews and links to great interactive fictions like Arcadia, 80 Days, Device 6, Blood & Laurels, A Wise Use of Time and Ryan North’s To Be or Not To Be.
“Narrative Tools for Games: Focalization, Granularity, and the Mode of Narration in Games” is a paper by Jonne Arjoranta at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. From the abstract: “This article looks at three narratological concepts—focalization, granularity, and the mode of narration—and explores how these concepts apply to games. It is shown how these concepts can be used as tools for creating meaning-effects, which are understood here as cognitive responses from the player. Focalization is shown to have a hybrid form in games. This article also explores the different types of narrators and granularities in games, and how these three concepts can be used to create meaning-effects. This is done by discussing examples from several games, for example, Assassin’s Creed III, Skyrim… Read more