Please check out our Sightseeing scene Redesign Amsterdam, currently playable on iPhone in both the Parsons New York City area and the Picnic locale in Amsterdam on the 7scenes platform.


We wanted a game that would link heavily into the themes of this year’s Picnic conference and yet would still be fun to play. As we got our hands on the software here in New York, we quickly keyed into its strengths and weaknesses. This led us to focus our attention on location based photography and inspired some creative thinking.

We began to wonder if we could use the smartphone cameras that conference attendees will undoubtedly be carrying with them to take this idea of “Redesign the World” out of the realm of discussion and put it into action. At the very least we thought we could use our normally isolating devices to encourage greater participation with the world around us.

Our group expressed a strong affinity for mixing digital and analog media and we though of a cost effective method of encouraging this type of expression (or perhaps even prototyping). We could simply provide conference goers some basic art supplies – a small tub of playdough, some construction paper, and a sheet of transparency paper with dry erase marker…

photography supplies

… and encourage use these to take some really creative photographs of the world around them. All in all, the cost of each of these supply packs would be less than one US dollar each. When we played around a bit with the materials, we were pleased by the results and the potential for some really fun and interesting interpretations.

playdough king kong
brainstorm photo ideas

We initially planned on forcing the players to redesign specific locations from the four main focus areas of Picnic ’10: Life, Design, City and Media. We intended to send our users to an equal balance of sites that with historical significance and ones that present current urban planning or design challenges. To that end, we synced up with Sarah in Amsterdam and she hit the town, building a map and taking photos of prospective site.

photos of amsterdam

We intended to use “Collect and Trade” for our final implementation, encouraging users to collect an “object” for each area of focus they “Redesigned.”

initial 7scenes implementation

However, play testing proved this to be both technically impossible and too restrictive – we wanted to encourage people to interact more with the wall, not bury their nose in their smartphone trying to find a specific location. So we rebuilt the game in “Sightseeing,” giving the player suggested locations to get their creativity firing but also allowing them to take or upload a photo or note wherever they wanted.

final design process

We implemented this for the area of New York City nearest Parsons, but with the conceptual work done it would be easy to create suggested locations in Amsterdam, particularly as the application now revolves around the players finding inspiration wherever it strikes them and does not limit them to target locations.

final playtest

During the conference, we would post the submitted photos online and allow conference goers to vote on their favorite redesigns, taking the spirit of action-oriented creativity back into the conference atmosphere and allowing the ideas proposed by the images to flourish throughout the community.

We hope that this will not only challenge conference goers to reexamine the world around them but will provide interesting commentary on the nature of urban design and a more open-minded and artistic approach to solving the problems that we perceive in our world.