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Page history last edited by Rafael Fajardo 12 years, 2 months ago




Draft Material

Bill Depper and I are co-teaching a two course block starting next week. This is an experiment.


My course is entitled Rapid Physical Game Design & Prototyping.

Bill's course is entitled Interaction & Collaboration, and his course content is a modification of another course of his called Programming For Play.


We will make use of the Hyper-Cube studio space.

We will move -- quickly -- from analog to digital games.

We will make use of Kinect sensors, video projectors, whiffle balls, cones, human bodies, and the Processing programming environment.


In thinking about certain problems, I have begun to think that Bill Buxton's book, Sketching User Experience, can be very useful. I'm going to reserve the word "problems" for things that need to be figured out in order to teach the course, and "challenges" for things that are presented to the students as course-work. Problems I'm specifically thinking about include:


  • how to sketch physical games?

  • how to playtest physical games?

  • how to document physical games?

  • how to disseminate and/or share physical games?

  • how to (re)combine collaborative teams?

  • how to tell if the games are any good?


We have decided that we will present five challenges to the participants in the first six weeks, with a challenge due each week. The first challenge is currently defined as:


  1. create a game that makes use of two bodies, a single mechanic, and a spatial envelope of 8 x 8 x 8 feet. The mechanic and dynamic must be non-agressive.


I will create the next four challenges very quickly. I need to get into a playful space myself. An unspoken problem above is "how to define 'physical' games?" Bill and I are focusing on games that employ and deploy human bodies at human scale, moving through spaces. This definition is purposefully broad, and still specific enough to exclude board or table games. It is broad enough that we may include things that would be defined as playground games and sport. Because of the technologies we hope to deploy, it may also include the science fiction trope of Rollerball.


As I attempted to think more deeply (or, perhaps, more broadly?) about the problem(s) and the problem space:


in re sketching: choreography notation as precedent?


in re time: Buxton mentions chunking and phrasing as representations of time, from his musical background, which leads me to think about rhythm and dance (see above). For Buxton (game) state diagrams are insufficient, because it is the transitions in between the states where the experiences are. Transitions are "active" and so I imagine them in the same area as "verbs" (c.f.e.g Chris Crawford). For Buxton the design (and the deity) are in the details of the transitions. He believes that sketches of the the transitions need to be fleshed out the the same level of detail as those of the states. As an example he points to Walt Disney who worked out the timing in pencil tests -- what later became known as animatics -- well before the detailed painting of the cells.


Buxton's Anatomy of Sketching:

· quick / timely

· inexpensive / disposable

· clear in its vocabulary that it is a sketch (e.g. lines extend through the endpoints in pencil sketching. How do we extend this into metaphoric abstraction?)

· it is of no higher resolution than is required to communicate the intended purpose / concept

· resolution of the rendering does not suggest a degree of refinement of the concept that exceeds the actual state

· is ambiguous, leaves big enough holes for imagination to play


[n.b. Erica Liszewski and I have had conversations along these lines about the value of low-res prototypes. We sometimes are tempted to use the term lo-fi, but the source, low fidelity, makes me uncomfortable.]


For Buxton the ability to make a sketch is not necessarily a reflection of the ability to "read" a sketch. He holds that the latter is the ability of the designer. How are we to measure that literacy?


The Problem Space for Physical Games (it might also be called the possibility space) and Parameters (v. 1.0)

  1. Spatial Envelope
    1. bounding cube, or
    2. bounding cone
  2. Temporal Envelope
    1. duration
    2. rhythm, meter, tempo
    3. time for setup, time for play, time for tear down, time to reset space
  3. Number of Players / Bodies
    1. bodies
    2. body parts
    3. intimacy / comfort
    4. markers
  4. Bits / Props / Tokens
    1. supporting materials
    2. supporting mechanisms / devices
    3. supporting technologies
  5. Light Variance or Envelope
    1. continuum of total dark to blinding light
    2. RF spectrum
  6. Sensory Envelope(s)
    1. acoustic envelope
    2. visual envelope
    3. tactile envelope
    4. olfactory envelope
    5. gustatory envelope
    6. somatic envelope?
    7. perceptual envelope?
    8. extrasensory envelope?
  7. Reproduce-ability
    1. all of the above (and below) shape the envelope of reproduce-ability
  8. Non-Player Witness(es)
    1. cultural mores
    2. spectacle or spectacular envelope (metaphoric, is it worth watching, entertaining?)
    3. referee, umpire, judge, arbitrator (are the rules self-enforcing?)


if only email could be in pencil to connote the sketchiness of these ideas.

is there prior literature/art in this domain?


I am going to make a quick read of the introduction to Massumi's Parables for the Virtual. It deals philosophically with the body, sensation, and change.


Bernie DeKoven on the continuum between "sport" and "fun" (we called it Calvinball). "“In a Sports Community, the rules and officials decide if the players are good enough to play. If not, they change players. In a Fun Community, the players decide if the game is fun enough to play. If not, they change rules.”
-Bernie DeKoven"


Potential Resources

State Diagrams

Unknown. Dance Step Diagram Example. http://www.fedbybirds.com/

Fluxus Event Scores

Selected Fluxus Event Scores. http://cuma.periplurban.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/fluxus.pdf

Friedman, ed. Fluxus Performance Workbook. http://www.deluxxe.com/beat/fluxusworkbook.pdf

Cianciusi. Fluxus Events as Max/MSP Algorithms. http://web.mac.com/cianciusi/Walter.../Cianciusi (Final Draft).pdf

Knowles. Alison Knowles: Fluxus Event Scores. Smart Museum of Art. https://vimeo.com/36770983

Knowles. Alison Knowles Event Scores. www.aknowles.com/eventscore.html

Friedman, Ed. Fluxus Reader. http://tightartists.com/sites/default/files/user.../8377-the_fluxus_reader.pdf

Videos tagged "Fluxus" on Vimeo.com https://vimeo.com/tag:fluxus

Improvisational Theater

Improv Encyclopedia. http://improvencyclopedia.org/

New Games Movement

DeKoven, Bernie. Deep Fun.

Pearce, Celia. Game Design As Cultural Practice.

Process and Documentation

Cook, Dan. Game Design Logs. LostGarden.com. http://www.lostgarden.com/2011/05/game-design-logs.html


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