Keynote & Colab Facilitator, “F**k Storyworlds!: A Mischievous Guide of the Latest in Cross Media Design”,Emergence Creative Festival, Margaret River, Western Australia, 29th March-1st Feb. I spoke about my not-yet-published-omg-it-is-coming-book!
[At the Emergence Creative Festival, Fairfax Dinner]
Moderator, “Immersed in the Story“, VR Plus, Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC), ACMI, Sunday 5th March, 2017. Panelists include Navid Khonsari (iNK Stories), Lynette Wallworth (Collisions) and Oscar Raby (VRTOV).
Panelist, “Making Games on the Side“, Game Development Brisbane, The Glasshouse, QUT, Sunday 5th Feb, 2017. Panelists include James Bowling, John Passfield, Jason Kristy, and Richard Eastes. Moderated by Lee May.
[Making Games on the Side panel, photo by Ashley Davis]
Workshops & Guest Lectures
Guest Lecture, “What I Really Do,” SAE Creative Media Institute, Perth, March 28th.
Facilitator, “Summer Series – Game Development,” SAE Creative Media Institute, Brisbane, Jan 13th-15th. I designed and ran the design side, and Dr Iain McManus did the scripting side. The teenagers created a hybrid digital-board game in 3 days. I took them through player interviewing, play research, speed ideation sessions, and prototyping.
FORTHCOMING, Editor & Author for a ToDiGRA journal.
Curator, Contributor (2017) Forward Slash Story Alumni Remote Show #2, 31st Jan. This is a regular publication by alumni who participated in the residential lab I co-run with Lance Weiler. The illustration (below) is by my regular artist Marigold Bartlett.
Contributor (2017) One Year in Now Media Vol IV, Simon Staffans, 3rd Jan, 2017. Other contributors include Mike Monello, Jeff Gomez,Asta Wellejus, Angela Natividad, Lee-Sean Huang, Maya Zuckerman, Andrea Phillips and Steve Peters.
Interviewee (2017) “Creative Practice and the Law”, Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Research Group, Law School, QUT. 18th Jan. Principal Researcher: Dr Kylie Pappalardo
(this page will be updated as the year progresses)
I moderated the ‘Content Creation’ panel at ACMI’s VR Festival (with Michael Beets, Nathan Anderson, Oscar Raby, and Dan Koerner) , and mentored filmmakers at their VR Lab, 3rd Nov, 2016 [Full list of panels]
My installation/App, Magister Ludi, for the Experimenta Media Art Biennial: Recharge, has been finishing it’s tour of Australia with these locations ending the Experimenta tour on September 23rd, but then it will be exhibited at Contours in Melbourne!:
“This narrative game has a novel interface, which is particularly well-designed for use through a tablet. The mode of interaction is simple, but the choices to be made ask the reader to consider how the game might work, with unexpected responses being the most successful. As it develops through the reader’s interactions, the narrative questions traditional ways to view education and life experience and suggests new ways to think.”2016 Judge’s Report, WA Premier’s Book Awards.
Last year I had another idea for a book. I have started many books over the years, but in the end I talk myself out of them. I am looking forward to writing a book about the process behind my different projects. But I am waiting until I have a bigger success or at least more time goes by.
One of the ideas I had last year was this: Universal Problems in Audience, Reader & Player Design: How Creatives Across Disciplines & Time Have Resolved Them. It includes (perhaps 50) problems experienced and addressed by novelists, TV, film, theatre and gamemakers. The book aims to unite us with the problems we all face, while providing valuable insights into how disciplines throughout history have addressed them. Since I may not do anything official with it, I’m not sure if anyone is interested, it may be interesting and helpful to some, and the entries actually need contributions from others, I have decided to share the drafts of some of my entries here.
The idea is partly inspired by one of my favourite books: Universal Principles of Design. But where that book details single principles or theories that can be applied in any way, my idea is a bit more problematic (literally). Firstly, the “problems” listed are not necessarily problems. Designers may intentionally draw on these behaviours. So I don’t mean to label any behaviour as automatically undesirable. Instead, the behaviours listed are ones in which creatives have seen as a problem at some time, and then tried to tackle it. The reasons for seeing them as a problem varies: it may be because they affect a business model, because they limit audience reach, or because they are an impediment to use. Either way, they are behaviours that some designers don’t want.
The are many responses to problems, and dealing with problems involves a lot of different factors. You may address a problem and then create another. The problem may be a solution to another problem you created. Indeed, the work still has to be done by the designer when it comes to determining what the problem is (or problems) and then finding the solution(s) they want. The responses listed have a direct relationship with the diagnosis of the problem, and so the real issue may be overlooked and mistreated. And of course there is no single solution to every problem.
Instead, the idea is to share the way people have seen problems and dealt with the them in the past. It is in part my own response to the perceived problem of ‘reinventing the wheel’. I personally have found value from the drafts I have written, if anything because being exposed to other methods widens my toolset.
So below is a draft for the entry of ‘late entries’. I am putting it out here to see if you find this interesting, and for your help. What examples could be included? What other responses could be included? What is the problem with this whole idea in the first place?
Problem Description: People enter a project after it has commenced.
Issue: Important previous information and guidance is missed, making the experience unable to be understood, or completely inaccessible (cannot participate), and possibly interrupting others.
Dissuading Late Arrival with Timed or Absolute Exclusion In theatre and cinema there can be ‘lock-out’ policies, where attendees know before-hand that they will not be able to enter the experience if they are late. It may be the audience is not able to enter at all, or they have to wait until a certain time in the performance or screening, or when there is an interval. This solution is to reduce disruption, but does not aid in understanding for the late comers (which may be a penalty in itself).
Dissuading Late Arrival with Penalties A reduced or more difficult experience. Penalties can include reduced abilities, extra cost (financial or otherwise), and reduced agency.
An unintended result of territory roll-out is that fans of a series (tv show or game) cannot share in the discovery and discussion. If an experience is released in one country and then much later in another, this results in penalties in the form of spoilers and social exclusion for those that cannot access the experience at the same time as others.
Encouraging Early/On-Time Arrival with Rewards Encouraging early or on-time arrival by making the beginning of the experience highly desirable and easy to attend. An aspect of making it easy to be on time is to send updates and clear information. Scheduling the commencement and communicating any rewards for being on time (and then they are successful) is part of operant conditioning.
Integrating Late Arrivals Designing the experience so late arrivals can still be involved in some way. Game Masters of live role-playing games, for instance, can integrate new players into the experience. For digital and live experiences, this can include giving the late comer(s) a guest role of some kind. They are a NPC (non-playing character) that can be a part of experience but not in a position to damage the events due to lack of knowledge. This can be done by given them specific and simple instructions, or they don’t interact in any meaningful way with the players. There could also be a spectator role they can take on. This means making sure the spectator role is easily integrated and entertaining in some way.
Staggered Entry Times The experience could be designed so the late comer(s) can enter the experience in some way in a meaningful way. This means there needs to be a short to no instruction or tutorial needed or they can learn from watching, as well a each round being relatively short so waiting isn’t a problem.
Recaps Introduced in television in the 1950s onwards, “previously on” sections at the beginning of a tv show explained what the audience may have missed (or forgotten). Recapitulation can vary, from showing the ending of the previous episode, a montage of important events, a narration of events, integrated into the actual performance, and so on. Recaps on mechanics learned in previous gaming sessions a while past hasn’t been explored as much so far (?).
Hybrid Seriality Another approach to information delivery and comprehension is ‘hybrid seriality.’ Part of the problem of Late Arrivals is missing key information needed for understanding. For instance in television, if viewers miss an episode they may not know what is happening or they may not get satisfaction from the events which have unfolded over separate episodes. TV theorist Robin Nelson observed a technique to resolve this problem in the early years of television, a technique he called “flexi-narrative” (Nelson, 1997, 34). Nelson studied TV shows in the 1970s like Hills Street Blues, and found that the hit TV shows mixed both series and serial techniques: “The blurring of distinction between the series and serial affords schedulers the joint advantage of an unresolved narrative strand — a cliff-hanger to draw the audience to watch the next episode — and a new group of characters and self-contained stories in each episode” (ibid.).
In game design, Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams describe the same approach as “episodic delivery” (Rollings and Adams, 2003, 117). “An episodic delivery,” they explain, “is a cross between serial and the series. Like the series, the episodic delivery contains a limited number of episodes, with an overall story line that is followed across the entirety. Unlike the series, however, there is often fairly tight integration between episodes and significant overlap of plot threads.”
So in both these instances, an episode includes not ongoing stories to keep audiences and players interested, but also satisfying endings to events within the episode. So comprehension is not essential to access, but consistently engaging audiences can be rewarded.
Nelson, R. (1997) TV Drama in Transition: Forms, Values, and Cultural Change, New York, N.Y., St. Martin’s Press.
Rollings, A. and E. Adams (2003) Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design, 1st ed., Indianapolis, Ind.: New Riders.