I took some notes this morning on Games for Change 2011 (aka #g4c2011) which is livestreaming its Mainstage Panels.
In the first panel which I caught the tail end of, PBS’s Silvia Lovato noted the important of scaffolding in games. “You can’t just throw content” at kids. Panelists also commented on the importance of using games to foster an appreciation for art and the creative process. When asked about the evolution of games, panelists predicted that games would be increasingly cross-platform/transmedia with players generating game content.
Winner of the Come Out and Play Festival
Problem: 311 calls are often duplicated. 311 is just not a social experience. The proposed solution— the Commons game, a mobile game for citizen stewardship. The Commons game was designed to bring people together to solve problems in their community. Players suggested improvements and other players voted on the ideas and suggested more enhancements. The game was tested in Lower Manhattan.
Players were given location-based tasks (e.g., What would you give tourists at South Street Seaport?). Options for players included: show appreciation, suggest improvement, or report a problem.
- People appreciated guided versus open-ended experiences (e.g., preferred a map and some orientation regarding tasks/questions vs coming up with questions/challenges on their own)
- Players wanted constant feedback: an alert system solution was devised
- Players wanted simple, quick voting
- Social=fun; players often teamed up
- Players appreciated getting votes of approval more than points
- Players with smartphones could help those without smartphones to get involved
- In the future: Web-based solutions at libraries could involve more people from lower income groups
Games and Cultural Spaces
Elaine Charnov, Director for Education at the New York Public Library, described using a game to get people interested in using the 42nd street library (“Find the Future, the Game“) to celebrate their centennial effort. Five hundred players were locked in overnight at The New York Public Library on May 20, 2011 and participated in quests and ultimately wrote a book together, including narrative, poetry, and illustration which will reside in the special collections of the library. QR codes were used throughout the exhibition. The project brought together diverse social groups and brought many first-time visitors to the library.
A speaker from the American Museum of Natural History described games for “learning science by design.” The goal of these games…
- Learning made personal
- Extension of the museum experience, on site and online
- Access for all
In one exhibit (Brain: The Inside Story), players simulate neurons and interact to learn about and simulate how the brain functions. Other gameful projects include an iPhone explorer app and the Ology project, which allows kids to explore being different types of …’ologists (e.g., anthropologists, zoologists, etc). The Urban Biodiversity Project developed in coordination with the Bronx Zoo, allows children to learn about ecosystems around the city and the zoo. Virtual Worlds Camp allows students to understand marine science and use Blue Mars and Scratch to develop a game. As the speaker noted: “We can’t avoid the digital and technology space because this is how science works…”
Jason Eppink of the Museum of Living Image spoke of projects at the museum
including RMB, an “online virtual art community developed within Second Life and projected onto curved screen with customized 3-D mouse interface, Flash-based video game projected onto curved screen with custom body board interface, [and] three single-channel videos ,” exploring both the history and modern culture of China. (The museum provides many educational programs.)
Syed Salahuddin spoke of Baby Castles: New York’s first independent video game arcade is a space where people can come together and talk about games. The objective is to create physical games spaces in diverse places. The speaker notes the social nature of an arcade (as opposed to a museum or gallery setting). However, they will be opening a location in the MOMA and use the arcade to involve children in art.
Some interesting speaker comments:
- Why are these spaces live vs online? Because the experience of culture is interpersonal.
- A challenge is to engage people in the real thing while being expansive and translating the real thing using cooperative play (vs competitive play) to get folks excited and passionate
- Game play is about subverting a system so the inclusion of games in museum spaces is appropriate
- The traditional museum model (which creates a distance between observer and object) may require rethinking if games are incorporated. Museum settings may discourage inexperienced players who may feel shy about failing and so game spaces have to be carefully designed.
That’s it for the morning session and thanks to the Games for Change organizers for making the conference accessible to folks via livestreaming!