Re-mission 2

I recently had the privilege of giving a presentation on what games are, how they’ve IMG_0765grown to a serious medium and the potential of what games can bring to different forms of communication to a group of proffessionals in the health industry. The wonderful Ricki Sickenger from Sonat Consulting followed me to talk about the process of gamification. My main focus through the presentation was on gaming systems. True – the graphics within the industry have become “almost real” and truly beautiful but so has the system/game design. And I wanted to emphasize on this to point out that game developers should be involved early on in development processes and not brought in in the end with a simple note of “gamify this within 2 weeks”. At least I think I did – but this may also be the conclusion from the wonderful conversation we had after.

It gave me an opportunity to dip into some health games and I’m absolutely smitten with Re-mission 2 by HopeLab! I love this project! They put game developers together with kids who are going through cancer treatments to make games that are absolutely joyful and so much fun. The games helped kids visualize what their bodies are going through and understand what all the painful treatments were fighting. I love this idea! First of all just using kids that are already going through this to help create games must be such a great program in itself. Second of all – the games are gleefully great! They made me giggle.

I wanna do something like this in Norway! Who’s with me and where do we start?

“Hold on, we’re in charge of the machines”

I just read this brilliant interview with Aleks Krotoski in The New Zealand Listener about her new book, Untangling the Web. You should buy it NOW – I just did!

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Me behind Aleks Krotoski at State of Play conference in Singapore. I told her I was a fan right before or after this was taken. I’ve never felt more like a stalker!

My enthusiasm escalated quite early here:

Dr. Aleks Krotoski, a US-raised writer, broadcaster and academic, says real serendipity in online searches or online dating, for instance, requires an aspect of “wrongness”. “I’d be fascinated if, when you hit on Google I’m Feeling Lucky, instead of delivering exactly the results that the machine thinks you want, it delivers things that are kind of wrong, and you as a human being would go, actually, that’s taken me off in a completely different direction.” Sometimes you want exact searches, she says, but sometimes you want stuff that’s a little bit different from what you are looking for.”

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Programming with children

(Pictures shamefully stolen from Lær Kidsene Koding)

Last summer I was at Edinburgh Interactive and was for the first time introduced to the highres_245711632wonderful organisation Coder Dojo, which is a program or space for young people eager to learn about programming and technology. Bill Liao, one of the founders, took the stage and started reciting a poem which really moved me. He concluded with the statement “We’re teaching our children how to read but not how to write. We’re teaching our children how to use technology but not how to create and express themselves with it.” – it really got to me.

Ever since then the subject just kept on popping into a lot of discussions and meetings I was having last winter. Of course, a lot of the meetings I was having, were with very engaged technology enthusiasts. But it was uncanny the way I could be sitting in an introduction meeting between Jill Walker Rettberg and Henchman and Goon where w ended up having an opinionated and enthused discussion about the lack of programming in Norwegian education. And this just kept happening. General consensus was that something had to be done and we might as well be the ones to do it. Meetings were had between me, Jill Walker Rettberg from Digital Culture at University of Bergen, Anne Marthe Dyvi from Bergen Center for Electronic Art, some sporadic members of The Game Developers Guild, Martin Lie, Trygve Trohaug from HackBergen and one of my favourite librarians Sverre Helge Bolstad.

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World Peace Game Bergen Part 1

I have so incredibly much to share from the week of playing The World Peace Game that I’m thinking it may just have to come in installments. I think I will try to break it down to three parts.

Part 1: My overall impression of what The World Peace Game is
Part 2: The beautiful people that I got to play with and how their unique minds and hearts contributed to a mind blowing experience.
Part 3: My thoughts on how the game can exist without it’s founding father.

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The Story Part 2

I’m sitting at the airport with bad internet connection – (I mean seriously! Why do they make this so hard?!)  – but I need to get this off my chest before I get to Bergen, for I know that everyday life will distract me.

So where was I?

4) After a brief coffee break came the remarkably enchanting Karl James to talk about the wonderfully simple yet difficult skill of listening. Sometimes, if you just shut up you’ll hear remarkable stories that you never thought you’d hear. And what beautiful stories he had to share. Like the extremely powerful story of a rape victim he had been talking to. An extremely powerful woman who had worked through the grusomeness of being raped when she was 14. A man had snuck in the back door of their house and raped both her and her mother. Gruesome, right? Absolutely horrendous. But my tears didn’t start flowing until he told us that when they were supposedly finished, he forgot to stop recording and they stumbled upon something heartbreaking. The woman told him that she didn’t regret the rape – she had learned to cope with it, survived and it was a large part of who she was. But then she said something completely unexpected “I do regret what it’s done to my brother” – my eyes are welling up just thinking about her minor break down then. She began to cry and talked about how her brother had become completely secluded and was much more troubled than anyone else in the family. It was heartbreaking and a story seldom told or shared, but because Mr. James was so good at listening, we were given this precious gift. I completely agree. I’ve been thinking lately that I’m very good at articulating other’s feelings when they’re sharing them with me. In fact I take pride in being able to describe what they’re going through better than they themselves can. It makes me feel like an excellent writer and gives my ego a boost. This is totally wrong of me! Of course I should give them room to find the words themselves! I’m looking forward to discovering all the magical stories I will encounter.

Please listen here – I know they will fill my ears in the next coming weeks.

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Things I’m going to

Tomorrow I’m off to Gullstikken . It’s kinda an award ceremony for the best computer games of the year, well…that’s exactly what it is actually. From what I hear, its the best place to meet the whole Norwegian games industry in one place.

So I’m looking forward to seeing who’s out there.

I’m also going to a free information meeting about Datalagringsdirektivet on Friday. It’s about the EU directive of storage of personal information. I’m still quite confused about the whole thing, and I welcome a free meeting to inform me about what its all about.

Using Game Design to "foster social change"

The World Wide Workshop, an organisation commited to using the internet for educational purposes of youth and children in developing communities, has created a wonderful site called MyGLife.org, through it’s Globaloria Project. It’s still in Beta – so I haven’t been able to test it yet – but just look at this:

MyGLife.org is comprised of an open architecture of educational, programmable websites and related wikis that offer more than 100 educational activities, simulations and tutorials to play, learn, explore and contribute new ideas online.

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Second Life Coca Cola vending machine

“Not Coca Cola but the essence of Coca Cola” – well that’s branding for you. But it’s really well thought out and has to be one of the best commercial ventures into virtual worlds I’ve seen so far. They’ve really embraced the collaboration era and that has to be admired. Clearly understanding that avatars are “thirsty for experience” – I’m impressed. I’ll be eagerly monitoring their success. Although I was rather hopeful that there would be more “set your brand free to be played with” as discussed in the Building Businesses in Virtual Worlds panel at State of Play V. This seems to be more restricted ehm…gameplay? interaction? from what I can see. But I haven’t taken the time to experiment with them myself yet – so I really shouldn’t be too critical.

Aesthetics?

Yesterday UiB hosted the “New Aesthetic Technologies Conference”, which I really would have loved to attend! Firstly because I really want to know what my (?) university department thinks about aesthetics and new media – because I’m not sure I know. Two years ago (good golly – has it been that long?) – the brilliant Rune Klevjer put together a conference called “The Aesthetics of Play” – it’s just such an excellent title, don’t you think?
Look what I found!!

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