Dead games, old games, new games

With Bateman’s Vegas only dead and buried a week, yesterday we spent time exhuming its corpse, analysing what worked at last week’s showing, what didn’t, and where we go from here.

The showing, through my eyes at least, went a lot smoother than was expected. It was rough, sure, and there were probably a few moments where the ball was up in the air (or dropped, depending on which version of ball-related saying is being used) but on the whole it was a thoroughly positive experience. It was fantastic to see an audience engaging with the system we had created, both on a tactile and intellectual level.

Something of significance that I noticed and heard through feedback was how much more engaging the science was once people were connecting with characters’ stories, and completing tactile tasks. I think as we go ahead we don’t need to be afraid of bringing in complex ideas as long as we consistently integrate them with more performative, interactive parts.

Internationale Spieltag was great, as has already been discussed. There were many games using mechanisms that closely linked to some of the key ideas and cognitive attitudes we’ve talked about in the project’s manifesto. Programming actions, for example, forces players to remain aware of their original expectations and goals while the results may differ from what they had planned. Balancing outcomes against expectations is an important cognitive attitude that the process of modeling can develop, as are an awareness of the way we formulate goals and the ability to discover new questions.

Something we chatted about yesterday was the format of initially presenting a flawed (perhaps biased) model that doesn’t work, and encouraging the participants to discuss the problems and suggest solutions for an improved model, and then managing (or playing) that model, which they have had a hand in creating (modelling reflects the people doing the modelling). This is something that I would love to test – even if it doesn’t work I think it could provoke some quite useful ideas.

I leave with a picture of an 18th Century German gaming table (thankyou Deutsches Historisches Museum) and a question which some of the Essen games left me with:

How much room in an hour is there for an audience to engage in self-reflection? Can constant self-reflection be encouraged throughout?

– Nathan


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