This workshop is intended for those who wish to explore how games can be designed to directly impact the social fabrics of lived environments such as schools, public institutions, workplaces, and neighborhoods. In specific, this workshop is about how artists, entertainers, educators, policy-makers, and activists can use game design to embolden and empower communities to actively engage in the creative construction of their own realities.
Situationist InternationalRevolutionary GroupPsychogeography, theconstruction of “Situations”Guy Debord, ConstantNieuwenhuys, RauolVaneigem, et al.c. 1957 - 1972
“[Only] play can deconsecrate, open up the possibilities of total freedom . . . thefreedom, for example, to turn Chartres Cathedral into a fun-fair, into a labyrinth, into a shooting-range, into a dream landscape.” Raoul Vaneigem, quotedin Plant, The Most Radical Gesture, 129.
Drift Deck: contemporary dérive practice. Near Future Laboratory, 2010.
Dramaturgy of the Local Action, not Simulation Environmental Game The Social is the MediumDesign: Four Principles Optimize for Agency
Dramaturgy of the LocalThe impact of an environmental game is directlyproportional to the degree to which the game issensitive to local conditions. The mandates anddesign strategies underlying any environmental gamemust thus be derived from a careful analysis of thetarget environment. While environmental games mayor may not be “high tech,” they must always be “hightouch.”
Erving GoffmanSociologistDramaturgical AnalysisThe Presentation of Self inEveryday Life (1959)
Action, Not SimulationAction, not simulation: Environmental games are notonly calls to action. Rather, they are substantially theaction itself, articulated through the procedures ofplay as they are manifested in the lived environment.
Reality Ends Here (2011-present)Impact mandates: collaboration, peer discovery, media experimentation Game actions: collaboration, peer discovery, media experimentation
Macon Money (2010)Impact mandates: build personal connections, support local business Game actions: build personal connections, support local business
Optimize for AgencyLeverage motivation, optimize for agency:Environmental games activate player agency andcreate new social and learning motivations byproviding channels for the expression of existingmotivations.
All of us have desires, all atleast who have not becomeso pathological that they arecompletely apathetic. Thesedesires are the ultimatemoving springs of action.John DeweyExperience & Education
The Social is the MediumLearning, community-building, and environmentaltransformation are inherently social operations. Theprimary “medium” of the environmental game is thusthe network of social relations, both potential andreal, that exists among its players. In manycontemporary environments, this network exists inboth physical and digital spaces.
Workshop Objective In less than 30 minutes, make a game that willtransform the conference environment, using only what is in this room…
Methodology• Analyze the space – what’s working, what isn’t, what’s possible, what’s not.• Identify mandate – what do you want to happen that isn’t happening already/enough?• Identify core action of game – focus on action, not simulation. Does the play of your game directly bring about the kinds of things you want to make happen? Or does it just call for those things?• Develop a playable prototype – use what’s available what can be done, rather than what might be done “if” or “when.”• Optimize for agency – how does your game leverage your players’ existing motivations?• The social is the medium – all lived environments are social environments. How does your game impact and spread through the social lives of your players?
Thank you!Jeff Watson@remotedeviceUSC Game Innovation Lab / OCAD University