Hello, my name is Kars Alfrink. I am the founder of Hubbub, a new design studio. We create
physical, social games for publ...
physical



By physical we mean that our games get you moving. We believe our cognition is deeply
connected to the sensory...
social



By social we mean that social dynamics, the way people interact with each other, are a
material we work with. By...
One example of our work is an urban game we created for Your World, in which players
claimed territory in the centre of Ro...
systems literacy



We think games are interesting because they are complex systems that run on people. For us,
technology...
media wisdom



Systems literacy and media wisdom are closely related to each other. The overlapping media
landscape is a ...
Lost is a television show about a group of people who after a plane crash are marooned on a
mysterious tropical island. It...
This is a diagram by Dan Hill that show the events occurring from the release of one Lost
episode in the US to the release...
An episode of Lost illustrates on a small scale what I mean when I say that the overlapping
media landscape has become a c...
Biologists call this process coevolution; when two species are dependent on each other for
survival. Certain species of hu...
play



How do we educate people about the coevolutionary process that exists between them and
the media they use? How do ...
Let’s look at a few examples: Budget Ball is a game created by Area/Code, commissioned by
the US government. It helps play...
symbolic
                           actions


This shows the unimportance of technology (Budget Ball is a physical sport)....
Mitch Resnick’s StarLogo is a tool with which children can build and simulate complex
systems. For example, how traffic ja...
praxis



StarLogo utilizes praxis, experimental learning, or as I like to call it: thinking by doing. We
feel that the se...
Smokescreen is a game by Six to Start for Channel 4. The goal is to teach youth about the
importance of online privacy and...
safe context



The topic of Smokescreen is a sensitive one. But because this is a game, players can
experiment within a s...
Our brains are excellent pattern matching machines. They adjust to new patterns and when
confronted with chaos, they start...
To explain, take Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. For its time, this piece was unconventional to
say the least. As a resul...
reading
                               &
                            writing


In the same manner I hope that with physica...
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Social gaming and new media literacies

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Slides plus notes of the talk I gave at an event on social games organized by Waag Society and Mediawijzer.net on 23 October 2009. A blog post for this talk including additional notes can be found at: http://whatsthehubbub.nl/2009/10/improving-media-literacy-with-games/#footnote_3_119

Published in: Design, Technology, Education
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  • Thanks! I have read Pattern Recognition (and in fact, all of Gibson's ouvre). I enjoyed it a lot. How is it related to this talk, in your eyes?
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  • this is amazing. have you read pattern recognition by william gibson? you'd love it!
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  • Hello, my name is Kars Alfrink. I am the founder of Hubbub, a new design studio. We create physical, social games for public space. We create games that take on meaningful problems, such as social issues.
  • By physical we mean that our games get you moving. We believe our cognition is deeply connected to the sensory perception of physical reality. We think it is valuable to reconnect people to the places they inhabit.
  • By social we mean that social dynamics, the way people interact with each other, are a material we work with. By definition, the meaning of games is socially constructed. We consciously design for this.
  • One example of our work is an urban game we created for Your World, in which players claimed territory in the centre of Rotterdam. They did this by planting flags on crossroads. Subsequently, they campaigned for their “movement” at these spots.

    Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alper/3958307121/
  • We think games are interesting because they are complex systems that run on people. For us, technology is a means, not a goal. Our medium is human behavior. With games we hope to increase the systems literacy of people.
  • Systems literacy and media wisdom are closely related to each other. The overlapping media landscape is a complex adaptive system. People shouldn’t passively inhabit it, but should be its active shapers.
  • Lost is a television show about a group of people who after a plane crash are marooned on a mysterious tropical island. It is famous (or infamous) for its complex story lines as well as for the complex web of media that has emerged around the show.
  • This is a diagram by Dan Hill that show the events occurring from the release of one Lost episode in the US to the release of that same episode in the UK. Official and unofficial media, blogs, wikis, forums, spoof websites and even a book on Amazon are platforms for Lost’s sprawling story.

    Image: http://www.cityofsound.com/blog/2006/03/why_lost_is_gen.html
  • An episode of Lost illustrates on a small scale what I mean when I say that the overlapping media landscape has become a complex adaptive system. Although the behavior of the parts might be predictable to some extent, as a whole it certainly isn’t. These systems shape our behavior wether we’re aware of it or not. In turn, we shape these systems, ad infinitum.

    http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Serpiente_alquimica.jpg
  • Biologists call this process coevolution; when two species are dependent on each other for survival. Certain species of hummingbird for instance have bills that are shaped to fit the flowers they feed from, and pollinate as a result too.

    Image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Haeckel_Trochilidae.jpg
  • How do we educate people about the coevolutionary process that exists between them and the media they use? How do we make them aware of the fact that they can, in their own small way, change it? We think you can do this by letting them explore the limits and possibilities of complex systems within a safe context. Or to put it simply: by letting them play.
  • Let’s look at a few examples: Budget Ball is a game created by Area/Code, commissioned by the US government. It helps players to understand the effects of growing debt. In this way, one of the fundamental elements of the global credit crisis is made comprehensible.

    Image: http://www.budgetball.org/
  • This shows the unimportance of technology (Budget Ball is a physical sport). It also beautifully illustrates the fact that the actions players perform in a game can be completely unrelated to the message the game is supposed to convey. (There is no thematic relationship between a ball game and the credit crisis, right?)
  • Mitch Resnick’s StarLogo is a tool with which children can build and simulate complex systems. For example, how traffic jams emerge. It’s kind of like Sim City, but with the hood open.

    Image: http://education.mit.edu/starlogo/
  • StarLogo utilizes praxis, experimental learning, or as I like to call it: thinking by doing. We feel that the separation between practical skills and theoretical knowledge is an artificial one. To deal with complex systems, reflection in action is required.
  • Smokescreen is a game by Six to Start for Channel 4. The goal is to teach youth about the importance of online privacy and security. On the world wide web they solve puzzles. Their progress is rewarded with bits of story.

    Image: http://www.smokescreengame.com/
  • The topic of Smokescreen is a sensitive one. But because this is a game, players can experiment within a safe context and gain insight into the effects their actions may have.
  • Our brains are excellent pattern matching machines. They adjust to new patterns and when confronted with chaos, they start looking for order. Systems are nothing but patterns that unfold over time.

    Image: Dalmatian Dog by Richard Gregory
  • To explain, take Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. For its time, this piece was unconventional to say the least. As a result, its initial reception was poor. People hated it. Only later, when their brains had adjusted to the music’s new patterns, was the piece properly valued.

    Image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Riteset.jpg
  • In the same manner I hope that with physical, social games, we can make people more capable of ‘reading’ complex systems, and ‘writing’ them. Thank you.
  • Social gaming and new media literacies

    1. 1. Hello, my name is Kars Alfrink. I am the founder of Hubbub, a new design studio. We create physical, social games for public space. We create games that take on meaningful problems, such as social issues.
    2. 2. physical By physical we mean that our games get you moving. We believe our cognition is deeply connected to the sensory perception of physical reality. We think it is valuable to reconnect people to the places they inhabit.
    3. 3. social By social we mean that social dynamics, the way people interact with each other, are a material we work with. By definition, the meaning of games is socially constructed. We consciously design for this.
    4. 4. One example of our work is an urban game we created for Your World, in which players claimed territory in the centre of Rotterdam. They did this by planting flags on crossroads. Subsequently, they campaigned for their “movement” at these spots. Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alper/3958307121/
    5. 5. systems literacy We think games are interesting because they are complex systems that run on people. For us, technology is a means, not a goal. Our medium is human behavior. With games we hope to increase the systems literacy of people.
    6. 6. media wisdom Systems literacy and media wisdom are closely related to each other. The overlapping media landscape is a complex adaptive system. People shouldn’t passively inhabit it, but should be its active shapers.
    7. 7. Lost is a television show about a group of people who after a plane crash are marooned on a mysterious tropical island. It is famous (or infamous) for its complex story lines as well as for the complex web of media that has emerged around the show.
    8. 8. This is a diagram by Dan Hill that show the events occurring from the release of one Lost episode in the US to the release of that same episode in the UK. Official and unofficial media, blogs, wikis, forums, spoof websites and even a book on Amazon are platforms for Lost’s sprawling story. Image: http://www.cityofsound.com/blog/2006/03/why_lost_is_gen.html
    9. 9. An episode of Lost illustrates on a small scale what I mean when I say that the overlapping media landscape has become a complex adaptive system. Although the behavior of the parts might be predictable to some extent, as a whole it certainly isn’t. These systems shape our behavior wether we’re aware of it or not. In turn, we shape these systems, ad infinitum. http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Serpiente_alquimica.jpg
    10. 10. Biologists call this process coevolution; when two species are dependent on each other for survival. Certain species of hummingbird for instance have bills that are shaped to fit the flowers they feed from, and pollinate as a result too. Image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Haeckel_Trochilidae.jpg
    11. 11. play How do we educate people about the coevolutionary process that exists between them and the media they use? How do we make them aware of the fact that they can, in their own small way, change it? We think you can do this by letting them explore the limits and possibilities of complex systems within a safe context. Or to put it simply: by letting them play.
    12. 12. Let’s look at a few examples: Budget Ball is a game created by Area/Code, commissioned by the US government. It helps players to understand the effects of growing debt. In this way, one of the fundamental elements of the global credit crisis is made comprehensible. Image: http://www.budgetball.org/
    13. 13. symbolic actions This shows the unimportance of technology (Budget Ball is a physical sport). It also beautifully illustrates the fact that the actions players perform in a game can be completely unrelated to the message the game is supposed to convey. (There is no thematic relationship between a ball game and the credit crisis, right?)
    14. 14. Mitch Resnick’s StarLogo is a tool with which children can build and simulate complex systems. For example, how traffic jams emerge. It’s kind of like Sim City, but with the hood open. Image: http://education.mit.edu/starlogo/
    15. 15. praxis StarLogo utilizes praxis, experimental learning, or as I like to call it: thinking by doing. We feel that the separation between practical skills and theoretical knowledge is an artificial one. To deal with complex systems, reflection in action is required.
    16. 16. Smokescreen is a game by Six to Start for Channel 4. The goal is to teach youth about the importance of online privacy and security. On the world wide web they solve puzzles. Their progress is rewarded with bits of story. Image: http://www.smokescreengame.com/
    17. 17. safe context The topic of Smokescreen is a sensitive one. But because this is a game, players can experiment within a safe context and gain insight into the effects their actions may have.
    18. 18. Our brains are excellent pattern matching machines. They adjust to new patterns and when confronted with chaos, they start looking for order. Systems are nothing but patterns that unfold over time. Image: Dalmatian Dog by Richard Gregory
    19. 19. To explain, take Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. For its time, this piece was unconventional to say the least. As a result, its initial reception was poor. People hated it. Only later, when their brains had adjusted to the music’s new patterns, was the piece properly valued. Image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Riteset.jpg
    20. 20. reading & writing In the same manner I hope that with physical, social games, we can make people more capable of ‘reading’ complex systems, and ‘writing’ them. Thank you.

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