Colony prototype, in Holly’s words

It’s been deadline central around here for the last couple of weeks, so various things have slipped through the blogging net. Fortunately, Holly Gramazio has written a lovely insightful post outlining precisely what what going on last Tuesday:

We went out in a group of four, and wandered around, occasionally passing the bundle between us – just to see what it was like, how the vibrations felt, whether people looked at us oddly or didn’t notice, whether we felt friendly and warm towards the bundle or annoyed by it. In the end we wandered arond for an hour or so, everyone taking a couple of turns with the bundle.

The first thing we noticed was that was that holding the bundle gives you an immense feeling of entitlement. Only you can tell when it’s vibrating; only you can interpret its whims. Is it happy? Which way does it want to go? Does it have a name, and if so, what is it? Holding the bundle makes you feel like these are your decisions to make, even when you know perfectly well that the vibrations are random and you’re interpreting them pretty much as you like. It invests you with power.

Please go and read the whole thing!

The Bloop at Enter the Arena

As a sign of how busy the last few weeks have been, here’s a blog post about something that happened in August…

My game The Bloop had it’s third outing as part of the BARG event Enter the Arena.

I still feel I’m in a play-testing phase with it, with a few areas yet to be cracked.

Far fewer players this time – which I think worked a lot better – and I also moved the ribbon-tagging down to armbands rather than on the inflatable whales and requested the players played in silence. The result was described by Andrew Wilson as “like a bonkers tea dance”. Here’s some video I shot of one of the rounds:

The Bloop at Enter the Arena from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

Yup! That description works for me!

I managed to take a few photos too:

The Bloop

The Bloop

The Bloop

The Bloop

The Bloop

The Bloop

The Bloop

The Bloop

Sas Taylor also got some nice action shots!

Bloop @ Barg

Bloop @ Barg

Blast from the past: Emergent Game at H&S 2009

Whilst looking for something else I stumbled upon a video made by a player at the Hide&Seek Weekender in 2009.

Brilliant! The first section is a player’s-eye-view of Emergent Game – the game I ran at the event!

It’s not all fun and games though. At one point this poor young man got trapped down a mine shaft and Jeff had to fetch help…

Re-enacting a scene from Hollywood as one of the Emergent Game missions

Re-enacting a scene from Hollywood as one of the Emergent Game missions

Photos of Taste the Game

Taste the Game went really well yesterday and I’ve had loads of positive feedback, which is always nice.

Jumping straight in to planning the next one for the 29th though, so here’s a simple slideshow of my photos and video on the basis that it’ll tell you as much as any words I can put together right now will…

A big thank you to everyone to contributed and took part.

Taste the Game

Over the last month I’ve been project managing a commission from the Midlands Arts Centre to deliver 2 pervasive games based events as part of their free summer programme.

Working together with the BARG network and a handful of more seasoned games designers based in London, we’ve put together an afternoon of games and activities for this Sunday that is intended to serve as an introduction to pervasive games.

There are more details about the event and what will be on offer on the BARG website, but basically what you need to know is that it’s free, will run from 2-4 (info desk open from 1:30) and it’s going to be great fun!

As well as the project management side of coordinating a team of eleven across different cities and also liaising with the venue, it’s been interesting spotting where little arty bits have come into it.

The main game of the afternoon, Bull Hunt, needed the construction of a bull’s head mask. A fairly obviously arty activity and one I quite enjoyed doing – I was working quite closely from photos of the bull sculpture outside the BullRing in Birmingham city centre and it was good to have to think in a sculptural way again.

Anyway, you know me, so the really interesting part came last Tuesday when it got it’s first public outing…

Sat with it next to me on one of the sofas in the mac, I found myself constantly talking to strangers. People asking what it was for, spotting what it was modelled on, asking how it was made. There was a fab ‘WOW!’ from a little girl too!

There were also some good conversations with members of staff – we’ve been holding various meetings in the building and I’ve been making sure I speak to the floor managers etc wherever possible. I love the way that novelty objects can so easily mediate interactions.

So, reaction to the bull as a mask was good, but reaction to it as a costume with someone inside it was even better! Thanks to Pete, Ant and Libby for all being game to give it a go.

We got some good photographs and also made a quick video to promote the game:

Bull on a bike.

Bull on a bike.

Have you seen this bull? from BARG on Vimeo.

I generally struggle to find licence free music to use as backing for the videos I make, sites like opsound tending to be a bit too electronic for my purposes. This time however I came across this collection from Kevin MacLeod. Short pieces in different styles just right for testing your resolve in editing down your footage to a minute or two!

Throughout the process of putting this event together it’s also been interesting (sorry I keep using that word, but I wouldn’t want to get stuff written down if it wasn’t!) looking at how I’ve been looking at the space. The mac recently underwent a huge renovation project to the extent that it’s basically a new environment, significantly different to what it was like before. However, I’ve only ever seen the new mac through the eyes of someone planning an event there. What space would be good for what sort of activity? How are people moving through this area? What are the acoustics like here? Where can I put 60 helium balloons and a trestle table?

I’ve been at the mac loads now, but never once stopped to look at the art in the galleries or to check what’s on at the cinema! Different. Eyes.

Another month to go (we’re doing a second event on the 29th of August) and then we’ll see what it looks like after that. I suspect it’ll be another area filled in on the “Own this City” map I’m slowly constructing of places in Birmingham I feel I have some sort of ownership over after having played games there.

The Bloop galleries

I’ve been compiling photos other people have taken of The Bloop game and sonar goggle experiments I did at the Hide&Seek Weekender into some Flickr galleries.

The Bloop at the Weekender #1
The Bloop at the Weekender #2
Sonar Goggle Experiments at the Weekender

It’s always good to see your events from the perspective of others and there are some really nice shots in there. Here are a selection of my favourites – click on them to go through to the source on Flickr.

Whales Ahoy!

The Bloop

Wining Whale

Hide and Seek

Find Each Other

Thanks again to everyone who took part – either as player or audience.

Two days of sonar goggles at the National Theatre

Last weekend I ran 2 games of The Bloop as part of Hide&Seek’s 2.5 day celebration of all that is playful.

Following oblique coverage in the Guardian and footage of the playtest at Warwick Arts Centre, demand for places far outnumbered the availability, even though I was asked to squeeze another 8 players in.

To be honest I don’t remember a whole lot from the games themselves: the sun shone; a tale was spun; krill jumped as far as they could and the whales swam. There were smiles; there was laughter; there were gasps; there were winces. Loads of people came up to me afterwards to tell me how much fun they had had!

Here are a few snapshots:

A krill pounces.

A krill pounces.

A whale heads from the feeding grounds towards the sound of Serge Gainsbourg.

A whale heads from the feeding grounds towards the sound of Serge Gainsbourg.

A whale makes a bid for freedom.

A whale makes a bid for freedom.

A big thanks to my 3 assistants for fetching barnacles and catching whales for the duration. The rest of my photos can be found on Flickr.

Since so many people missed out on whaling on the Saturday, I took 3 pairs of sonar goggles with me when I returned for the Sunday games. In the hour or two of gaps I had between whispering ‘patatas’, looking for invisible golf holes and trying to find my queen, I invited people to come and try them out.

This quickly turned into trying to find new ways of playing with them. This is what I like about the Weekender: there’s a really nice balance of people who want to figure out new ways of playing; people who will try out those new things, people who will ask “hey, what are you guys doing, can I join in?” and people who will interact from the sidelines in a good humoured manner. Hat tip to Giacomo for his catalytic skills and enthusiasm.

Shireen models the sonar goggles

Shireen models the sonar goggles

Dont mind us, were just trying something out...

Don't mind us, we're just trying something out...

The first experiment that evolved was to release two be-goggled people into vaguely the same space and see if they could find eachother:

The answer appeared to be, “er, not really”.

We soon gained some more interested people, so we then used all three pairs of goggles and had enough extras to act as chaperones for the next experiment. A race across the room to the cordon in front of the doors:

Fun and interesting on a range of different levels and in a variety of different directions!

The rope area became involved in a live link-up game in Delhi so we adjusted our course and the next video is a snippet of trying to navigate about three quarters of the way around the Olivier Foyer:

So much to like! Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Stand by for more sonar goggliness as we build on these experiments to develop a full-blown game…

Bloop playtesting this Saturday

On Saturday the 10th of July I’ll be running The Bloop as part of the Hide&Seek Weekender at the National Theatre in London.

Trying out the sonar goggles

Trying out the sonar goggles

Following on from the recent playtest at Warwick Arts Centre and feedback from the players, I’ll be making some changes to the rules and I want to test these out before unleashing the new iteration on the Weekender crowd.

If you’d like to get a sneak preview of the new game and also a chance to try out the sonar goggles I’ve been making, come along to the mac at 4pm on Saturday for a playtest.

You’ll be able to find me in the Terrace Gallery with a host of games people at the bargmeet, once that’s finished we’ll head outside into Cannon Hill Park for an hour or so to try out some Bloop variations.

Krill hunt sonar-navigating whales from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

All are welcome, although don’t expect a full run of the game – this’ll be more about little experiments and tweaking variables. The video above gives you a good idea of what sort of thing to expect though.

It’d be really useful if you could let me know if you’re intending to come along – that way I can bring along an appropriate amount of kit.

See you there! Terrace Gallery (by the stairs) 4pm, moving out into the park until about 5pm. We’ll be the ones with the whales on our heads.

Playtesting The Bloop at Warwick Arts Centre

Warwick Arts Centre: where we discover krill have surprisingly long reaches...

Warwick Arts Centre: where we discover krill have surprisingly long reaches...

Following on from the initial lab and adventures with electronics, it was time to test evolved game The Bloop with some players and see how it was shaping up as a fun thing to play and entertaining spectacle to watch.

I think we did alright!

2 krill tag a whale after getting it on a classical pincer movement

2 krill tag a whale after getting it on a classical pincer movement

Krill await a whale about to leave the exclusion zone around the breeding waters

Krill await a whale about to leave the exclusion zone around the breeding waters

I had several people approach me as I was preparing for the game saying how much they were looking forward to playing it. When asked why, the answers usually related to the ridiculousness of it and how much fun it looked. Considering the game hadn’t been played anywhere yet I consider this pretty good going!

Bloop headwear: perhaps a contributing factor to perceived levels of ridiculousness... (photo courtesy of Marie Foulston)

Bloop headwear: perhaps a contributing factor to perceived levels of ridiculousness... (photo courtesy of Marie Foulston)

There were a few issues with a wave of exhausted batteries for the music, but other than that the tech worked well, with only one on-and-off-again required for the sonar goggles. We’re oh so nearly there with the game design but all the major ingredients are in place and what remains are tweakings rather than re-thinks. A big thanks to everyone for their feedback and also to Hide&Seek and Fierce for hosting.

I didn’t get much of a chance to stand back and observe, but I shall leave you with a few short videos to whet your appetite for further iterations of the game. I’m talking all over the second one I’m afraid, because two security guards came up and asked me what was going on and then were curious to find out more. Job done!

Lone whale hunts feeding grounds from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

Krill hunt sonar-navigating whales from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

If anyone’s got any photos or video from the game that they’d like to share, I’d be very grateful. Give me a nudge with a link in the comments or send me a message.

The Bloop at Warwick Arts Centre

This Saturday evening I will be running the first plays of my new pervasive game The Bloop at Warwick Arts Centre.

The event is the Hide&Seek Sandpit, run in association with LIFT, London International Festival of Theatre, as part of Fierce’s Interrobang programme.

In practical terms, what this means is that you can come to Warwick Arts Centre (at the University Of Warwick in, er, Coventry) for 6pm and take part in a whole host of games and playful things, for free!

Sonar goggles

Sonar goggles

The Bloop (set in the deep ocean off the coast of Chile) will be the first public outing of the sonar goggles I have been developing. If you are playing as a whale, you will be using these goggles to navigate the playing space by sound rather than by sight.

There will also be colourful ribbons, inflatable whales and bothersome krill.

Hope you can come and join us for an evening of fun and challenge!

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