Due to low turn-outs, these sessions were more testing than play, however we still had some very big smiles!
By Thursday I’d made some units that communicated with each other via XBee radios. They remain happy whilst still in range, but once separated you have a short grace period in which to link up again. After that an alarm goes off.
For the first of the two playtesting sessions it was the first time the units had been taken outside, so we wanted to get a feel for what sort of maximum range they have. Not until after having experimented with corridors and lifts, first.
Faraday Cage: third floor.
Maplin’s carpark wasn’t big enough, so we moved on to the ring road and then the St George’s retail park. You can just make out the person carrying the other unit in the distance…
Range-testing in the biggest carpark we could find...
For the last session we headed into the city centre and experimented with corners, pillars and mezzanines in various streets, theatres, shopping centres and multistorey carparks. I’m afraid I was so engrossed in what we were doing that I totally forgot to take any photos!
Next step is to expand this out to a group and start working with range information to see how that affects the coalescence of a group moving through the city.
I’m now approaching the half-way stage of my residency at Phoenix Square, however the last 2 days have been beset by various tech and mech crises so it feels like I’m only just getting started!
Last night was the first of my playtesting sessions in which members of the public have signed up to come along and get hands-on with whatever I’ve made.
Due to the slow start I hadn’t got the radio communication up and running, so we did a few experiments using the old faithful sonar goggles instead. After a gentle start in the empty room next door, we headed down to the public space of the cafe/foyer/cinema area.
Having now had their appetite well and truly whetted, my enthusiastic volunteers then wanted to use the goggles out on the streets!
We tried a range of locations and a range of challenges (including bollard slalom and fountain circumnavigation). This was the first time the goggles had been used in such an uncontrolled environment and I was very impressed as the guys’ willingness to try stuff out. As they said, the bar has now been set very high for the next time they’re used!
Corridor Challenge. The challenge being to not end up in either the cinema or the ladies loos!
Using the goggles to navigate from one side of the market to the other.
The video above shows a snippet from an experiment in moving together as a group: the lead person is using their sonar to navigate from one side of the square to the other, but the person behind has their sonar switched off, so they have to listen to the lead’s bleeps in order to be able to follow them.
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.
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.
Thanks again to everyone who took part – either as player or audience.
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 whale heads from the feeding grounds towards the sound of Serge Gainsbourg.
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
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…
Hello, my name's Nikki. I make things happen.
My main area of enquiry is centred around interactions between people and place: often using tools and strategies from areas such as pervasive games and physical computing to set up frameworks for exploration.
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