How to start a scene

One of the first brainstorming sessions

Background

Me playing Douglas Wilson’s Edgar Rice Frotteur

Art + Games workshop proceedings

Schedule

  1. A general introduction to the idea of game development as an artistic discipline, and the state of the art in both games and cultural game events (by me)
  2. A list of ±10 examples of digital games (by Torfi)
  3. A list of ±10 examples of physical games and installations (by me)
  4. A summary and a few examples of how to constructively incorporate these ideas into the following brainstorm.
Please marvel at my diagram crafting skill
More disambiguation, and finding the right lens
A summary and a call to action is important when starting a workshop like this
  • why we’re doing this
  • why we’re doing it in this way
  • why the people in the room were invited
People in deep thought about the Post-It wall
A paper prototype for an installation idea which includes 2 barcode scanners and a label printer, that prints out pieces of coastline.

Semi-public

Mini-expo & mini-museum

Play sessions
Part of the museum, mostly consisting of zines and toys

Take-aways

  • Structure activities hour by hour
    We did not schedule starting and closing times on any of the days, meaning people didn’t have any anchor points in when would be a good time to show up. On Saturday, it felt like some people just came whenever it was convenient, rather than committing to the workshop, since our schedule was so vague.
  • Don’t be intimidated by artists
    I was super intimidated by the idea of working with ‘real artists’. Will they be interested in group brainstorms? Will they feel silly when we play ice-breakers? I made a deliberate choice to treat everyone the same, regardless of stature, but I think I would’ve scheduled things differently if I was able to completely overcome my imposter syndrome. I would’ve probably included a few more group activities like ice-breakers and mingling games.
  • The Game Jam/Hackathon formula isn’t the best
    A weekend is a long time. We had modelled the workshop after a game jam, which is usually 48 hours, but since we weren’t really expecting people to make games, or to have something finished by Sunday, the interesting moments were too spread out. I think we could condense this into a full-day event, or maybe 3 Sundays in a row, rather than try to block out an entire weekend. We saw that it is hard for people to commit to that due to conflicting responsibilities (kids, jobs, …).
  • Let people play
    We should have prepared a more significant game-playing session. Most participants unsurprisingly had never heard about the games we mentioned, so we would’ve gotten a lot out of having them play some more games before going into conversations about the medium.
  • Moderate brainstorms continuously
    The brainstorms were fruitful, but several times people got excited about conceptual work that they would never be able to manifest. Designing installations as well as games with a certain level of required intricacy or technological complexity can be fun, but not very productive, and despite our best efforts it was often unclear exactly what the participants could expect from each other and the organization. Finding a way to encourage people to brainstorm even more within the limits of their own existing skill set would be an improvement to the format. A lot of the brainstorm conversations still ended up in “this would be a cool video game”, but since it wasn’t a game jam many of the ideas would be difficult to pull off.
  • Find a way to keep momentum after
    Since our “organization” is just a few people who work in the same office, people were a bit confused by exactly what or who we were representing. It seems like we hopped on the train before actually laying down any tracks, and I’m somewhat concerned about how to keep this momentum going.
Group lunch with all the artists is a must

Outcome

A functional prototype of a 3rd person non-virtual reality headset, with IÐNÓ in the background.

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Jonatan Van Hove

Jonatan Van Hove

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