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The Best Festival Ever team is back for round two!

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As of a few days ago we have headed back into development mode and are beginning our next project: a re-skinning of the BFE prototype for a real life complex system -in Stockholm, Sweden.

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While we’re here we’ll be getting to grips with the Flaten-Skarpnak area and systems. Flaten is an area in the outskirts of Stockholm which is a kind of nature reserve. There is a lake and swimming area – where many older generations learned to swim in years past – and a forest. We’re working with a group called Milioverkstan who will be filling us in and helping us with the context of this complex system we’ll be working with. We’ll be working  for a total of four weeks initially, with plans to return to complete the project for performance by November 2016.

Flaten1It’s new for us to be working with a real life system. We have extensive experience in creating a simulated complex system, styling it to best facilitate explanation of different effects seen in, or common to, complex systems. This is the easy bit – we can (and have) made systems that suit our explaining and storytelling needs – but now we have to work differently. Coming to a real life system is daunting. Not only because of the unknown environmental and cultural environment, but because the people who use this area are real people, have real connections to it, and will have real feelings about us wandering in and presenting the environment they have a connection with to them. We are very aware of this, and will be treading with respect and awareness, but it’s the things we won’t see that concern me the most.

There is a lot to be excited about though – living and working in Stockholm for a month, learning about a new system completely outside our own and getting a chance to learn what it is to work with a real life community to achieve a representation/game of a real life complex system (and the promise of more snow!).

My question is: How can we gain the most comprehensive picture of a system we have no experience of, within a culture with have a limited understanding of? 

– Nikki

2016: A week with Forum for the Future

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So it’s 2016, and we’re back to work. This year is going to be a busy one, with a big project taking place in Sweden: more on that in a moment.

To begin with, though, we packed up and headed off from the Canberra / Sydney January heatwave, straight out to London winter for a week with Forum for the Future.

Forum is an independent non-profit that works with businesses and governments to try to build sustainability practices. Their toolkit is drawn from systems science, as is ours, and there’s long been a good fit. So after a lot of discussion and planning, we kicked off and spent a week together exploring what a potential collaboration might look like.

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That included, among other things, a performance of Best Festival Ever at the Proud Archivist gallery in Haggerston, showing off the show to an audience of corporate, government and NGO figures, and sitting with them afterwards to unpack some of their own systems challenges. And spending a couple of days with Forum’s Systems Innovations Lab, sharing a little of our working practices and digging into theirs.

One highlight was a game design workshop we ran with them, which included building a scrappy bundle of new games, rapidly prototyping them, testing them and then teasing them apart. This was really satisfying, partly because it was excellent practice for Sweden, and partly because making games is always fun. Making games is a better game than playing games.

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Okay, so my question here is: Forum, what happens next with us?

– David