Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Tapping into the (real) imagination that we all have upstairs is the topic for next week. So, I'll be taking a step back in time from the futuristic Holodeck into our flesh and blood brains, and thinking about doorways to richer imagination. Rather than wait around for the holodeck to get invented, how can we use our imaginations to change the way we perceive our day-to-day realities so that we feel a genuine sense that we are indeed shaping our own personal worlds? We do this to a large degree everyday, but for most people it's a highly subconscious process, and consequently we can fall victim to a deterministic trap where we simply go through the world as it's been constructed for us, never feeling empowered as mind-creating sentient beings.
The virtual reality narrative isn't new. Plato was talking about it back in his day in The Allegory of the Cave. The story continues to stand at the foundation of many a sci-fi plot, certainly many that I posted this week, and of course Tron, the sequel to which just opened yesterday. So, to close out the week, here are the trailers for Tron from 1982, and the new sequel:
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Another documentary is about the X-Ray cafe from the 90s in Portland, Oregon. This seems like the live action - in person - version of "We Live in Public," because it all happened live, and not a lot of it was documented with video. It was a crazy little spot in the center of Portland, and every night some eccentric thing or collection of things was happening there. Here's a documentary of that:
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
First up is the newest, Minecraft. A user generated sandbox that's blowing up the past few months. Here's an example:
Next up is Sim City. Last year I saw Will Wright speak at NYU and he is one compelling individual. He talked about the nature of games and the direction we're heading, and also the development process of bringing Sim City into being.
Lastly, Second Life. Here's the intro:
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
For example, Jean-Luc turns into a detective in one episode (maybe more) and the cast basically plays along in their respective roles. Here's an excerpt:
So, here we have a fictional story of Star Trek. Inside of this is the next level of fiction happening in the Holodeck. From our real world perspective, what's a logical thing to create? These:
Action figures representing fictional characters within a fictional framework. Maybe it's slightly pedantic, but that's some nice abstraction.
Imaginary worlds contain infinite potential. Yet, as adults, we often reserve the use of our imaginations for (so-called) proper contexts. These proper contexts are in a constant state of flux, and are totally subjective from person to person. For one person, entering into their imagination means designing a jet engine, for another writing a creative lesson plan, maybe another experiments with drugs and enters a mental world where playfulness is part of the wallpaper. And, it seems like there are a few categories of acceptable and also not-so-acceptable play, for adults.
But within a virtual environment, all bets are off, because the idea is that the users aren't really doing the things they're acting out.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Longer scene, here.
This week I'm thinking of play in virtual space.
Lots of stories preceded the Matrix, for example here's what Steve King does with the idea of virtual space: LawnMower Man from 1992.
Another earlier story involving virtual space is Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash, and I'll point at more this week.
My interests involve how the virtual space merges with imagination. Once inside a virtual space there's still a great deal of experiencing that needs to happen by the user. How much of this could happen in our own imaginations? Our dreams seem real enough, why don't people do more to access their dreams by way of lucid dreaming? Seems like the ultimate playground, no?
More this week.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
On that same playful note, just came across the Diesel Interactive window today...clearly businesses are seeking ways to get their customer base PLAYING:
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
...you're about to have lunch with kermit the frog...
...people you know who've passed away are gathered to watch you...
...you're on break from the pit crew you work for at the Indy 500...
...you're in a plane that's about to go down...
...you're learning french...
...you're on a path toward enlightenment...
and PLAY accordingly.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
And, why not? It's a great place for it.
So, again, these thoughts continue to form around ideas about developing more opportunities for play for adults. This doesn't necessarily mean drunken debauchery, yelling and wildness, but it certainly means letting the guard down and feeling the childlike qualities that seem inherent with PLAY.
Even the most mundane of tasks seem to be infused with a bit of play compared to the same tasks elsewhere. A bathroom trip, grabbing a snack, taking a lap around the arena, all fit within the nearly magical context that is essentially self-created in the mind just by being THERE.
How to create THERE in more places? More ways? Much of this requires a suspension of disbelief from those in attendance, much like going to a movie or a magic show. Bringing that same sort of suspension of disbelief into other aspects of life could be viewed as watering down that which is special, or, it could be a way of living in a constant state of awesomeness.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
So, along with the half-baked post below musing on improvisation, I thought I'd add this amazingly cool wooden toy boat that Harvest sent to me today, from etsy. Yes!
Unfortunately, it's sold, NO!
But, good for etsy user FriendlyFairies, YES!
It occurred to me recently that improvising is essentially playing. Making stuff up as you go along. Being talented results in a skillful improvised performance, but in reality anyone can improvise in any context they find themselves in, to one degree or another.
Definition of the word improvise, here.
Improv Everywhere, which I posted last week, inherently claims, by virtue of its name, a sort of grand improvisation. And, there is an element of improvising in many of their projects, but often times the stunts are entirely planned and perhaps mainly project the appearance of being improvised. Also, there is a definite performative aspect which of course doesn't take away from the actions being improv, but my thinking in this post is toward a more personal act of improv.
Improv as non-performance. As play.
Can people choose to play in and out of the common moments of their day to day life? What does that mean for different individuals? For many, this might be a quiet and solemn experience, harkening back to a youthful time when play meant coloring and creating alone in a bedroom. For others this might mean shaking up the day with small pranks on co-workers, or prompting surprise with random acts that can either result in surprise, joy, or various other unhoped for outcomes including annoyance!
But stepping away from the performance element of improv, and into a state of self-awareness wherein a conscious thought process occurs that is both playful and attempting to riff on the moment, whatever it may be, in experimental ways that hopefully lead to a life of positive energy.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
A few more links to info about Charles Simonds: People magazine, an essay from the denver art museum, and some other places the work has been.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Come out and Play is a games festival that's been around since 2006, started by Greg Trefry who also taught our Big Games class at ITP last spring.
The festival is, well, here's the mission statement in their words:
The Come Out & Play Festival seeks to provide a forum for new types of public games and play. We want to bring together a public eager to rediscover the world around them through play with designers interested in producing innovative new games and experiences.
Oh yeah, and we want to have city-size fun.Scroll through the site and past years' entrants. Clearly there are dozens of games and much playfulness that permeates the festival. And, it looks like they grew to SF and it happened just recently. I notice that Greg has some thoughts on his blog, which is also a great read.
(Also, brief side note that 3 others and I collaborated on a game that was in the festival back in June of this year.)