Form and Function

This week we’ve been plunging into research and trying to build ourselves a picture of the Flaten system. We’ve been talking to lots of people who use the area and hearing stories about it. We spent some time talking to the Miljöverkstan team, teenagers from the local school who have been doing some research on the area for us, and had a wonderful afternoon walking through the magically snowy nature reserve with Darne (a biologist and head of the bow hunting organisation that practice in Flaten). I think we’re beginning to understand some of the groups that use this old and beautiful area and how the system works.

IMG_4190Learning about the oaks, pines and spruces with Darne and Anna

We’ve also been making the beginnings of some new games – they’re not great, not even that functional, but they’re fun! These new games help us to grapple with the sub-systems and find stories we could use to illustrate some basic systems modelling concepts and some of the lesser known things about Flaten.

IMG_4116Testing the ice in Flaten Sjön

Something I have been enjoying is getting the chance to imagine the range of ways the game might be presented. It’s so much fun to be able to let your mind go wild and think as broad and creatively as possible. You only get complete freedom on this early on in the process and it’s great to push the boundaries of imagination as far as you can go.

One thing we’re thinking about is including perspectives of Flaten in different time periods – for example playing through some of the sub systems as they existed in the 1930’s when sand was trucked in to make a beach and kids were bused out of the inner city to learn to swim. We’re also thinking about giving audiences the chance to see or speculate on what might happen to the area in 50 years time based on information we have of how the system is run today and possible decisions about how it will be run in future.

I occasionally get a bit overwhelmed with the scope involved in making a game about a real life system. There are so many things that could be included. It is a complex system after all. There are also lots of people who use the area, and have some kind of relationship to it. When you being thinking about how to make it a reflection of the way they all see the area, it becomes too big to imagine, and seems inevitable that it will fail to capture this. For me trying to remember what exactly the project needs to do alleviates this imagination overload. The three that I think we are working towards are:

  1. It needs to help an audience who don’t know Flaten understand what the area is and gain some respect for it
  2. It should help audience members to engage in some of the behaviours of a systems thinker
  3. It should help an audience to consider Flaten’s past and what factors could effect its future

Having these points to work towards helps to clarify what is important information to make into systems games, and what can serve the work better as story and outcomes.

The question I would like to ask is: What are the craziest possible ways we could present this system, while still fulfilling these outcomes?

– Nikki

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One thought on “Form and Function

  1. I love your last thought Nikki. It triggers in me another question: What is the difference between just taking a place for granted and actively engaging in its future? What keeps coming back to me is that it feels so strange to me that we live in a time when it is necessary to be very aware of the importance of ones relations to nature and very consiously take care of them and engage, because there are forces that can easily just sweep it away. I mean you can easily just stress through life and forget to go out and enjoy the beauty we are part of and it feels like we can easily just decide to build stuff and introduce human activites and design that totally changes the dynamics and beauty of an area. And change the way we can connect to nature.
    To me the richness and the beauty of the landscape in Flaten really gives other dimensions of being alive than the more urban/human designed landscape.

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