Before the documentation of this journey begins, let’s highlight the major players.
Team 1 Winners
Ronald klein Tank and Ronald Lenz –
Oren – video historian
Carrin – Waag Society representative
Team 4 (runners up/assistants to Team 1)
So after flying from JFK to Iceland, we finally land in Amsterdam and have some troubles figuring out where to go. We had to figure out how to get train tickets, how to get to the train, if we had the right train, how to get to the tram, how to get to the building, how to get inside the building, how to get to the room…
But we did it! We met the other group members and it seems like there are a lot of people helping us. Both Ronalds are helping immensely, and we have someone for video production, and also for 7scenes technical help.
Today is a day mainly to straighten out all the details and figure out the hierarchy of the to-do list. After a short break, we got down to business.
- What is the final reward? (Prize Ideas included: a photobooth with pictures that upload to Flickr automatically and get projected onto a screen, buttons/stickers/ribbons, meet and greets with speakers, or take away Polaroid photos.
- Total # of tasks needed for the scene (how many? how to distribute geographically?)
- How many winners will we have? Multiple? One?
- Budget limitations (cost for printing out cryptographs)
- Delegating tasks to team members
- Focus on making final reward stand out from the rest of the festival
- Incorporating a social context to the final reward (automatic photo upload to facebook/twitter; displaying a slideshow of the winners on a projector)
- Have a physical memento for player to take with them as well (cryptograph doubling as a photo frame, can fit the polaroid picture)
- Ideas for final scene – box, photobooth, fortune teller (using actors in game to make the experience more personal/interactive and to hit the overall theme of Picnic)
- Figure out production of big items (tent, fortune teller)
- Game made so that everyone can win
- Game not limited to specific time frame, can be played throughout the day
- Make game simple enough so that many people get into winners tent
- 15-20 minute time limitation for game
- Recon at 9:30am tomorrow to check out site grounds
- Get bikes
After our meeting at the Waag we checked into our hostel and got settled. Then we (Parsons + Olga and Gabriel) went out to eat at a cute little bar/restaurant so we could refuel, relax, and try to hammer out some ideas for the project.
We wanted the user to experience an ongoing theme throughout each site they visited. This theme would be inspired by a meaningful quote/poem that can be related to the world of new media. When the player enters the tent, they would be asked a question from the oracle. From there, we had 2 ideas that we were trying to decide between:
1. The quote/poem that inspired the theme (TBD) would be cut up into single words. The oracle would shake up the words in a cup and pour them out in front of the player. The player would then use these words to assemble an answer to a question (also TBD) relating to Picnic and the game itself
2. The player would be asked the question, and then would write down an answer. The next person that came into the tent would have to write a question pertaining to that answer. And so on and so on…
One major concern we had was that we seemed to have too many things going on – the scavenger hunt, cryptogram, and then the whole oracle thing. How to make it simpler, but still add more depth to the original idea?
After dinner Gabriel was kind enough to show us a few of the sights around our hostel and get some fresh air. We attempted to figure out what the question and inspirational quote would be, but everyone was brain dead and we agreed to wake up early and finalize our thoughts in the morning.
Tomorrow we are getting bikes so that we can be more mobile around the city. We’re excited to turn the concept into reality!
Over breakfast, Gabriel, George, Julynn, Lea, Hirumi, and Gabriel started to question the ideas proposed the night before. Cutting up a poem and having players reassemble the words seemed too complex, and too separate from the original concept. Things started to look dim and we were ready to scrap all of the brainstorming we had done and start again from square one. With our tails slightly tucked between our legs, we headed to MacBike to rent some wheels before meeting Ronald #1 to catch him up on the work we had completed since yesterday.. which at this point seemed to be nothing. Insert big sad face here.
Now mobile (but screaming to the world that we’re tourists in our big, red, bikes) we headed over to the Waag society to get down to work. We sat around the work table and laid out our thoughts to Ronald #1. The team was reunited with Olga, and we all met Joost for the first time.
We’re not sure if it was the food that finally settled, the fresh Amsterdam wind in our hair from the bike ride, or the strong fumes of coffee, but we all of a sudden re-fell in love with idea #1: cutting up a meaningful quote, and having the player rearrange the words into an answer.
Olga suggested a quote that we all liked and decided to use. It’s an excerpt from the movie RoGoPaG when Orson Wells reads a poem by Pasolini.
La Ricotta, by Pasolini:
I am a force of the Past.
My love lies only in tradition.
I come from the ruins, the churches,
the altarpieces, the villages
abandoned in the Appennines or foothills
of the Alps where my brothers once lived.
I wander like a madman down the Tuscolana,
down the Appia like a dog without a master.
Or I see the twilights, the mornings
over Rome, the Ciociaria, the world,
as the first acts of Posthistory
to which I bear witness, for the privilege
of recording them from the outer edge
of some buried age. Monstrous is the man
born of a dead woman’s womb.
And I, a fetus now grown, roam about
more modern than any modern man,
in search of brothers no longer alive.
We felt this poem not only related to the world of technology and new media, but also would provoke internal discussions with our players regarding their thoughts in the industry and the future of cross-media.
Julynn, Gabriel, and Caspar went to the festival site to take pictures and check out the area. The rest of us (Olga, Joost, George, Lea, & Hirumi) stayed at the Waag to design the card we would hand out to players, print out the sentence words, and figure out all of the miscellaneous items that needed to be taken care of.
To be honest, everything in this afternoon was a blur. Everyone was moving at lightning speed and we were super productive with the items on our agenda. Of course that didn’t come without second, triple, and quadrupled-guessing many-a-vision until we finally came up with a model for everything we wanted to see happen at Picnic. I’m sure a lot of this won’t make any sense. Most things didn’t make any sense until about 5:30pm today. Here are our final thoughts/products for the day:
- finalize the cryptogram
- create mockups for the scenes to test on the phones onsite tomorrow
- after much deliberation, the question proposed to the players will be “what makes a modern man or woman?” (other thoughts included: what makes a modern man? what makes a modern woman? why should it be man? why should it be woman? how about what makes a modern (wo)man? why are you sexist?)
- the letters would be laser cut onto wood pieces; the Faab lab was able to cut these for us
- we would use as many sites as logically possible to spread out the letters so that people wouldn’t get congested at any one location (hopefully)
- since we didn’t have a permit to have an outdoor tent, we decided we would lock up the oracle’s hands instead of locking up a box, and the player use the code to unlock their cuffs as their final challenge
- we would have audio of the Orson Wells speech playing in the oracle arena
- oracle would speak little to no words and dump out the letters for the player to make their answer to the “modern woman/man” question
- once they completed their answer, a picture would be taken (possibly video from the ceiling would be taken as well) and we would compile all of these images into a visualization to play on the big screen
- decided on using heart shaped stickers (theme of picnic) as a memento for players. the answers they make will be handwritten onto their sticker. The sticker would serve as a talking point for the players of the game. People would be able to identity who had taken part and be able to discuss their own answers/thoughts/interpretation of the game as well as the ending question
- upload the players pictures/answers to a social networking site (facebook?) so players can connect with each other even after Picnic has ended
After the work session we decided to wind down with a couple beers and discuss what we had to do the next day. All in all, a productive day, and we’re ready to work hard tomorrow!
Here we go again!
We met up at Waag to organize the day’s events and delegated tasks to speed up the process.
George, Julynn, Gabriel, Olga, and Casper collectively worked on finishing up the Cryptogram and setting up the final markers in 7scenes.
Lea & I were tasked with making the take-away memento, making a collective blog, and prepping materials for the oracle room. We also assisted with retouching the photos.
George and Casper also headed out to the site to make sure the 7scenes application was fully funtional. 7scenes recently upgraded to a new platform that doesn’t seem to be working as fluidly as we had hoped. Casper is on task to do some debugging. If all else fails, we will run the older version during the game tomorrow.
I think this is about the time where “the weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed…” Of course the morning/early afternoon sped by like crazy, and of course we were behind on getting everything on our task lists completed. Last minute questions/requests were making things a bit hectic in our workroom as well.
We nibbled on bits of leftover bread and cheese and worked furiously to complete everything. In the end, I must say that everything turned out looking pretty good!
Big shout out to Ronald #1 for running around picking up our print jobs and supplies! “…if not for the courage of the fearless crew, the minnow would be lost.”
Much muuuuch later that evening we were finally able to make it out and inhale dinner downstairs. Ronald #2 hooked us up with tickets to a networking event that night and we were able to scope out where our site would be. It was a pretty awesome venue! By the time we got there things had emptied out a bit, but it was nice to see the place… we’re always look for excuses to ride our bikes here!
We weren’t convinced that the oracle vision would work they way we’d envisioned it. We decided that we’d do a run through in the morning, and came up with a couple of back up plans in case the oracle didn’t work out.
idea: oracle would be a “modern” person. they would be derssed sleekly and the room would be organized in a clean fashion.
fear: this would be too much of a “cold” setting and the players wouldn’t understand the meaning of our game without more explanation.
idea: oracle would just be a regular person. we would talk them through the process and explain our concept as well as asking the player questions about their experience
fear: too much handholding and we would defeat the purpose of our game.
What is it about late nights and the inability to answer important questions? We turned in for the night/very early hours of the morning with eyes a-twitching and hopes that we’d be able to pull these shenanigans off in just a few hours…
Rise and shine campers! Oh boy, were we anxious this morning. George, Julynn, Lea, and Hirumi hopped on their bikes and pedaled over to the Picnic grounds. We met up with Casper, Gabriel, and Ronald to set up.
Lea and Hirumi ran around the area to put up the markers, while George and Julynn finalized their presentation, and the rest of the team set up the tent and AV stuff. We had some great promotional items! 7scenes had made some banners and Oren had put together a promo video that we had rolling on a flatscreen outside the tent, along with a slideshow Lea made the night before.
The oracle room came out looking amazing! For whatever reason, there was a glowing rabbit that was left in our tent, and we used it as a crystal ball. (Side note for any matrix fans: how weird is it that a white rabbit appeared in the oracle room?? oooweeeeoooo!)
We had some issues with the markers. Some of them had fallen off, some were far too difficult to find, and some were in a location that roaming men/women may not be so comfortable wandering into alone with their phone outstretched whilst taking notes (a daycare playground, whooops!) Gabriel and Hirumi ran around re-adhering things and changing locations.
While we were attending to that, the rest of the team were working with issues in getting the application installed and users being able to log-in easily. We also had members scattered through the grounds publicizing the game. Unfortunately for our first player, a lot of these issues were figured out through him. He was quite the trooper though! He was patient as we resolved the problems as they came up, and played the game to its entirety.
A really cool feature of 7scenes is that you can track the players. When players were returning to the tent, you could see their dot coming closer and closer… and everyone was in a panic when our first player returned. We opted to merge our oracle ideas. The oracle was still chained up, and still presented the words and the poem, but we took out the time limit. We allowed players to ask any questions they wanted, and we also explained our thinking behind the concept. We took pictures of their final sentences and taped their feedback for us/the game.
Overall we had about 25 people play the game, with only 5 completing it. A big reason that we couldn’t reach a larger number of people were iphones. As of right now, the application is only available on the iphone and we guesstimated that about 60% of the people that we talked to that wanted to play the game didn’t have one.
People were also having issues with the GPS functionality of the game. Free wifi was available on site, but EVERYONE was using it. In some cases, even when users were in the correct location of the marker, the application told them they were in the wrong place. This probably explains why we didn’t have as many people finish the game as we would have liked. Grrrr.
We weren’t able to attend any lectures, but we did meet many interesting people from various organizations. A few people from Layar (another GPS mobile application) were really excited to learn more about 7scenes and vice versa. Lorentz is a famed media blogger in Amsterdam and he spent a lot of time talking to each of us and truly understanding the concept; the creation, transformation, and final execution. He said he would be blogging about us soon, so we’ll be on the lookout for that!
Towards the end of the event, we took turns checking out some of the other tents in our area. One of our favorites has to be the Microsoft setup. They were advertising Kinect for Xbox. Lea put it best as “its like Wii, but better!” Everything is motion sensored so you aren’t limited to using a console to direct the game. We had waaaaaay too much fun with it, and it turned out to be quite a workout. They also had these awesome gameboard setups at the tables. We only messed around with checkers, but the entire application is touch screen within the table. You pick and choose your game, and play without the fuss of game pieces.
Exhausted, but happy, we cleaned up around 5:30pm. It’s so insane to think how much the game changed from its original conception. When the NY students met the Amsterdam students (just 2.5 days ago), we thought everything was mostly set. The Ronalds definitely pushed us to bring more depth to the application so it was more than just a locative game. As Ronald put it, “It’s the question that drives us.” And our question (“What makes a modern man or woman?”) nearly drove us to insanity. The players that completed our game seemed to really like our concept. They said they enjoyed the photo-hunt experience, but also engaged in conversation much more than we anticipated.
Our mission was to promote a game that created a fun interaction between their mobile application and physical surrounding, as well as having the player engage in a meaningful discussion with themselves (and others) about the future of new media and technology. There are definitely things that we would have done differently (“If only we had 6 more hours!” – George), but we were satisfied with the end result.
We sat around with our fellow teammates and our 7scenes/Waag Society hosts and shared our thoughts and experiences over some much needed drinks.
We cannot believe how unbelievably lucky we were to be a part of this team. This was our first experience working with locative games and it has definitely opened our eyes to the world of human interaction & game design.
Of course this experience would have been nothing without the people involved. Our Dutch cohorts and group organizers were so kind, patient, incredibly intelligent, and a dream to work with. A huge thanks to them and to Colleen Macklin (faculty advisor to the NY students) for giving us this opportunity.
Thank you all so much for an amazing experience!!