The push-pull of needing expert knowledge

2016-10-03-beetle-game

We’re a week and a half into the development of Democratic Nature in Stockholm – the second development on this work since our first R&D period back in January. The focus has shifted quite drastically – whereas last time we were taking in as much information as possible and generating a whole array of new games to play with, this time we’ve got the outline of the show, and we’re actually constructing the prototype.

An interesting tension has emerged in this phase of the project: the push/pull of knowledge gathering.

Unlike with BFE, we’re dealing with a very specific real world system, and so accuracy and rigour becomes pretty important. When we were working with a fictional music festival, we could tweak the parameters of the festival to help us illustrate our points. With Flaten, we don’t have that luxury.

So for example, in Democratic Nature, we want to have a series of linked mini-games illustrating cross-scale dynamics in Flaten’s ecological systems. Our plan is to start with a game on a micro scale, then zoom out to see the impact of that small element when you aggregate it numerous times.

At the moment, we have a draft suite of games which begins with an Ekoxe Beetle (a stag beetle which lives on old oak trees), then zooms out to look at the oak trees that are its habitat, then zooms out to see the forest scale and the oak patches which are a habitat for a kind of bird.

The problem is, we’re not sure that the examples we’ve picked necessarily demonstrate the point we’re talking about. What impact do Ekoxe Beetles have on oak trees when you talk about them in large numbers? We assume that there is some impact, but what is it, and is it the most powerful and resonant example we could choose?

So we need to go to our experts – but at the same time, we don’t want to pause the process to wait for answers.

So, what’s the balance between making wrong things you know you’ll have to change, and twiddling your thumbs while you wait for some expert advice?

– David

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