Big 3D printing

Written by on 2nd November 2011 in Sketches, Thoughts with 0 Comments

I got this idea in my head going to bed last night. It involves “3D printing” large objects using a large spool of plush “sausages”, with various textures printed on the fabric, as the printer material. The image above is just a rough collage sketch. But I’m thinking this might be awesome. I bought some off white fleece tonight and plan make a lot of sausages tomorrow. I’m thinking this might be a way to prototype being able to 3d print my First Person Creator objects. But also just a fun alternative way to think about making 3D things.

The trick is figuring out how to join things together. I was initially thinking magnets but maybe that would make it a little to complicated for now. So I just got some velcro. Also trying to figure out how to make things that can stand up in a solid way and not just collapse… Something to ponder as I sleep tonight.

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Science Fair

Written by on 2nd November 2011 in Thoughts with 0 Comments

We had our week-8 adjunct advisor speed dating science fair thing yesterday from 10:30 – 3:30. A long day of talking, a lot more than I usually do in one day at least. I tried taking down notes as I talked to people but got a little overwhelmed and didn’t end up taking down as many notes as I probably should have. But I did at least get to talk to everyone. I can’t remember what everyone said exactly though it seemed generally positive overall I think… at least what I can remember… People seemed to be all over the place in terms of the things they found interesting, though I think the streetview experiments were most frequently talked about.

Anne was interested in how they could play with the barrier between the virtual and physical more. And also asked what questions I was asking other than the main one which I had explained. Phil seemed to think there was something in the e-mail stuff I was doing if I pushed it further, maybe its the idea of having an ultra ultra customizable (ie not just one alternate metaphor but many custom ones). Ben & Sean did feel like there were ties between the old work I was showing and the street view stuff. Molly had some good references in relation to the street view stuff and urban gaming. Mike asked if there were more opportunities for people to create within the things I was making. Elise felt like I was still pretty broad but could see a common thread through the work. And she had some good suggestions for possible ways to think about taking it further. Lisa seemed pretty into most of the stuff, and more interested in the bingo game than most others. Garent was especially interested in my old huddle project and the street view stuff specifically.

So.. I’m not really sure what to make of all the feedback. People asked what I was planning on doing next, and my general response was putting some of the game stuff aside for now and try to bring the work back into the real world for a while since a lot of the the things I’d been working on has been stuck on the screen lately.

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Bingo Results

Written by on 1st November 2011 in Experiments, Thoughts with 0 Comments

2011 MDB game came to an end on Friday. Afterwards I tallied up the results: how many dots on each person’s board, how many times each person appeared on another person’s board, number of badges created, number of badges collaborated on, and total badges overall. Salvador & Jessica both tied for 1st place most helpful overall and Brooklyn & John tied for second. Matt M. created the most badges. And Mike had the most orange dots. I also made little award certificates (and certificates of participation) where the end badge was generated (by me, not code) using the badges and dots they had on their board. So everyone’s end medal was personal to their experience.

Overall I feel like it was a good experiment in creating a large scale, asynchronous game. From what I’ve heard it seemed to inspire some increased helpfulness and socialization. I know that I at least felt more social within the studio than I had been in the past few weeks. Level of engagement ranged from feeling competitive to sort of passively playing. Some people proactively went out of their way to talk to people they wouldn’t usually talk to, while others just used it to log the interaction just as it happened. I think creating the cumulative award badges at the end was also really interesting to me. In the end I felt like the game actually simulated the benefits of online networked culture in an interesting way, since it was really only possible to do well by helping other and having help from others.

So overall it seemed like a relatively good exercise in creating a game system to encourage social collaboration within a real social network. But now I think I need to leave it for a while and let it sit, maybe returning to parts of it later on.

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Thesis Abstract v.0.5.

Written by on 28th October 2011 in "Official" Papers, Thoughts with 0 Comments

Fun in Function (a working title)

We live in a networked world with increasingly blurry lines between our physical and virtual lives. Our computation-centric society is more orderly, more systematic, and more governed by algorithms than ever before. Technologists often rush forward, in the name of progress, without looking back to reflect upon the effects (or missed opportunities) in their wake. Focusing on the “how” instead of the “why” these new pioneers develop faster and better ways of systemizing, quantifying, streamlining, and tagging our world. As new algorithms get pumped out faster and faster, ubiquitous networked computing pervades everything from our built environment to our front pockets. What effect does this have on our lives?

Technology has fundamentally altered the separation of work and play.(1) The idea of work was once confined to the tangible real world, while play was allowed to exist in the intangible imaginary realm. For many of us who work in the world of the intangible, work is often no longer bound to the rules of reality, making it particularly ripe for hacking. What was once a serious and quantitatively true system can become a space for collaborative interaction, especially within the context of our rapidly advancing technology. Our algorithms already create questionably objective “truths” that shape our real world, from finances to culture to terrain.(2) Thus, a new system can emerge that is open to a wide range of “truths” created by humans that also shape the world we live in. But because the systems we’ve created work faster than us as individuals, we’ll have to work together to keep up with them.

Within the ordinary world, both physical and virtual, there are already “magic circles” (3) ripe for the picking everywhere. Being subject to arbitrary (and often absurd) rules and constraints, these areas are subject to new possibilities bound only by imagination. But what kind of possibilities are we aspiring to create? Within these new systems that make our lives more efficient, what will be the role of the human? As algorithmic thinking becomes an increasingly valuable skill, we must create space for capricious thinking to flourish as well. With the inconveniences and obstacles of life being “cured” away with technology, will there still be space for human intervention, improvisation, and interpretation? What type of work will we value?

While we seem to believe that play is the opposite of work, a good game actually invites players to do more hard work by tackling unnecessary obstacles in an interesting way. The creativity of play comes not from removing constraints but by reinterpreting and finding new possibility within the constraints.(4) Looking at our real world “magic circles” through the lens of potential opportunities for play, we can find new ways to reshape it, with goals other than just profit and efficiency. Since people’s behaviors are heavily influenced by their environment, with this power we also have to take responsibility for the type of values or behaviors we’re promoting.(5) It’s also important to keep the system open enough for individual agency, allowing new possibilities to emerge and raise new questions about what we currently accept as fact or normalcy.(6)

With these values in mind, I want to mash up our everyday spaces and technologies as a way to create alternative uses for them, challenging arbitrary systems of so-called technological and cultural progress. I want to hack together our existing real and virtual worlds as way to explore (and exploit) the absurd assumptions that both hold these worlds together and keep them apart. By encouraging the co-existence of creative free play in both our digital and physical lives, I am hoping to create new spaces of possibility for others to build upon and reshape.

1 Margo Hilbrecht .Changing Perspectives on the Work–Leisure Relationship.

2 Kevin Slavin. Ted Talk: How algorithms shape our world

3 Johan Huizinga. Homo Ludens

4 Jane McGonigal. Reality is Broken

5 Jonathan Harris. World Building in a Crazy World.

6 McKinzie Wark. A Hacker Manifesto.

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Literature Review Draft.

Written by on 28th October 2011 in "Official" Papers, Thoughts with 0 Comments

For longer writing, it seems to make sense to just embed the document as a whole. Below is the first draft of the literature review.


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Microsoft Productivity (The Sequel)

Written by on 28th October 2011 in References, Thoughts with 0 Comments

Ah finally… it’s been 3 years in the making but Microsoft Productivity The Sequel has finally arrived…  And with the same cast of characters! (Oh Ayla Kol, what are you up to this time?) Let’s play a game shall we? It’s called try and guess which of the two images is Microsoft’s 2009 vision of the future of productivity and which is the 2011 vision of the future of productivity.

I can’t really tell the difference either, but the left side is the “new” stuff. Apparently Ayla and Qin are still stuck in their sterilized parallell Microsoft Productivity universe. I feel bad for them. At the end of the first one it looked like Ayla and Qin might have had a budding romance. But I guess Qin is still too busy showing off his artist palette/cutting board/tablet’s ability to throw things onto a bigger screen. And Ayla’s daughter is still missing her jet set mother. Now I sort of want to make a spin off comic book fan fic series about Ayla and Qin’s lives in their parallell universe.

Actually to be fair their new and improved world does seem to have some new efficiency enhancing technology, but I guess some things never change (click to see full res):

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A chat with Chris Bell

Written by on 28th October 2011 in References, Thoughts with 0 Comments

On Tuesday I headed back to Santa Monica to meet with Chris Bell  who also works at thatgamecompany. But aside from that he is also working on an indie game called Way that’s getting a lot of press lately. He’s also part of the Friends in Play podcast I listened to a few weeks ago. This is just some of the stuff we chatted about…

A collaborative face drawing


We talked a little bit about how Journey was going but mostly about Way and his philosophies behind designing for friendship. When designing Way they asked “Can we use play as a way to break cultural barriers?” They knew they wanted a game that was constructive and involved building something collaboratively. Some of the initial influences were things like drum circles and other music games. They also looked at collaborative drawing games, like the face drawing game that produced the image above between the two of us. They were also inspired by games like Endless Forest, where silent deer in an expansive forest use only their body movements to communicate with others.

Then the question became “What if communication is the game?” Since they wanted the game to cross cultural barriers they didn’t want to have any text, speech, or cultural bias. Even the choice of player keyboard controls were considered (because, for instance, a Q on my keyboard is not the same key on another keyboard in a different country). They also tried to keep the character design gender neutral. Way shares some similarities with Journey but while Journey allows for multiple players it doesn’t require it, whereas Way is intentionally collaborative. They were also careful to not prescribe meaning in the motions and respecting the player’s intellect. He mentioned they tried to avoid canned animations, although there are a few basic ones for the basic emotional states. But for the most part they didn’t want to put meaning into gestures when the same gesture can mean many things around the world.

We also talked ab bit about the idea of Designing for Friendship. Chris mentioned that one of the important principles when thinking about designing for friendship is letting people be themselves. The designer’s job is creating the framework people to construct meaning through. He also specifically mentioned the importance of allowing a range of possible expressions. For instance, by having the option to hurt or negatively treat others actually gives more meaning to the positive behaviors. It’s important to give people space to work in because working with polarities is empowering to the player.

Play is also a good way to form attachment. Chris mentioned a study where children were given a toy without having it’s meaning prescribed. Instead the adult just asked the child to help explain what it was for. By being involved in forming its meaning the children were more engaged, more attached to the toy, and more likely to return to the toy repeatedly.

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Card display techniques

Written by on 25th October 2011 in Experiments, Thoughts with 0 Comments

At the beginning of the day yesterday I also gave out cards so people could moderate or promote their level of involvement with the bingo game. I also sent out this email about the cards:

On a corner of your desk you should find a playing card.

Turn it face up to indicate you’re open for helping or being helped.

Turn it face down to indicate you’re busy.

You can put it anywhere people can see it.

I left it pretty open so I’m happy to see the range of ways people chose to display their cards. A lot of people left them on the corner of their desk, mostly people who haven’t been in studio yet. Some have turned it over. And some have made an effort to display it more prominently. I like that Jeremy’s has both an orange flag and a blinking LED.

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Media Design Bingo

Written by on 25th October 2011 in Experiments, Thoughts with 0 Comments

I’ve been reading Jane McGonigal’s book, Reality is Broken.I don’t totally agree with some of her ideas but I felt sort of inspired to actually make a real world game because I’ve been talking about doing things that bridge the virtual and physical, but haven’t really done much with the physical side of things. And for all the reading I’ve been doing about collaborative play, I hadn’t really made anything collaborative. I was reading about some of the alternate reality games she’s put together and I remember at some point I jotted down:

“Can I make thesis a game?”

And so I thought about different parts of the process. And the studio environment. And how a large part of the “work” is actually done through the interaction with people who sort of help you push your ideas in whatever direction they need to go in. And then I thought about how I actually still didn’t know most of the new kids’ names’ in the studio… and at some point this turned into bingo.

I’ve been spending the past few days working on making this large scale asynchronous studio bingo game.

I started by sending out a general email to the mdp-students list proposing my idea & preliminary rules for the game. At the first pass on Wednesday I got about 9 takers. Someone emailed to ask a few questions to clarify the game so I sent out a second with more details (and some revised rules) and got about 10 more takers on Thursday. On Friday I set out to ask people who hadn’t responded and got another  10 or so. Some I just didn’t run into or hear from but generally I felt like I had enough people on board to make it something that would be relatively interesting.

A lot of the past few days has been spent tweaking the design of the game and figuring out the actual logistics technically. A big part of it was thinking about what sort of behaviors and values were important. I’m really interested in a game that involves collaboration and sort of rewarding groups as opposed to just focusing on the individual. Plus there’s the theory that expressing gratitude regularly increases happiness. So could I then make the game about gratitude and helping others? And could I do this using something as boring as a shared google doc?

I like these quotes from Reality is Broken:

“Many of us do work that feels more surreal than real. Working in an office, you often find it difficult to see any tangible results from your efforts. What exactly have you accomplished at the of of any given day? Where there chain of cause and effect is opaque and responsibility diffuse, the experience of individual agency can be elusive.. is there a more “real” alternative?” (60)

For the most part, we live in a culture of individual achievement, or what Martin Seligman calls “the waxing of the self” and “the waning of the commons” He explains “the society we live in takes the pleasures and pains, the successes and failures of the individual with unprecedented seriousness” And when we see success or failure as an entirely individual affair, we don’t bother to invest time or resources in someone else’s achievements. (88)

After some fairly tedious production work of getting 44 boards together but some fairly satisfying work of creating badges the game started on Monday at 9am. (Although at 10am I had to go through and update all the boards cause I forgot one square.) I emailed everyone’s individual board in addition to this pdf.


Between my first email and the final rule book I changed the mechanic a little. At first you would mark a square if you helped someone, but after thinking about it more I changed it to marking a square if someone helped you. And then the awarded badge gets given to you and the people who were part of the competed pattern. So there was a little bit of confusion this morning I think, but people seemed to get it after I explained it again. At first it seems the motivation is to put more dots down on your board (get help from others) but as the game goes on you’ll notice it’s actually more beneficial to have your dot marked on more boards cause that earns you more badges in the end.  Several people have badges that haven’t placed any dots, which is particularly interesting to me. I like that even if people aren’t really actively playing as much as others they still get rewarded for their help. The game goes until Friday @ 3 in order to give everyone a chance since schedules are all different, so we’ll see where it goes. But there’s already quite a bit of activity going on…

You can begin to see patterns emerging on the live board

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Lit Review Outline

Written by on 25th October 2011 in "Official" Papers, Thoughts with 0 Comments

WordPress doesn’t seem to format my outline well. So…here’s the pdf version instead:


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