Sunday, 30 October 2011

everwake part 2

Well this week it begins. All over again. The plan was to have a break, however recent events have pushed part 2 of everwake forward. I am personally really looking forward into developing the second story of everwake and most importantly how we can get the game at the heart of it all. I think I have always wanted to use everwake as a huge experiment in terms of pervasive gaming. Trying to serialise it like you do with tv shows such as LOST. But I think for a game this is harder. How can people be kept abreast of what has happened up to that date and then not feel out of the loop? Well that's the challenge, plus seeing where and if there should be online content for the game.

But before that, I think it maybe time to put on a seasonal game for all of you guys getting a few withdrawal symptoms. We should be announcing it this week so keep your eyes peeled.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

when are you role playing? and when are you just being you?

The pervasive game genre, is an interesting paradox for me and one I have been wrestling with for the last year or so. What I am struggling with it the idea of role play and being yourself.

For me I really got interested in pervasive games because in my mind you did not 'play a character' you were just yourself within the rules of the game given to you. But the more and more I get involved in this there are as ever more shades of grey than there is grey shades. So is there a difference? are there pervasive games that you can be yourself in? and are there games that you have to be a character, and are both of these pervasive games?

So lets go through it and see why I have been thinking about this recently.

Last summer myself and Allie were lucky enough to get to London for the groundbreaking game Conspiracy for Good The game was created by Tim Kring of Heroes fame. The game itself was huge encompassing four weekends around London town. NOKIA sponsored the game and so there was a load of technology involved in the game. For such a big game I was a bit disappointed by it, but I think now a year or so later, I am wondering if it was because I was given a 'fake' character name with certain character traits. So in essence we were asked to roleplay a character. During the game I think there was always an element of detachment, and I wonder now if it was because of the role play element.

In contrast something like 2.8 hours later where you are merely yourself and are asked to interact with the world as yourself feels real and immersive. I am still not sure. Yet it seems like it maybe a mix of both. i.e. the game itself needs to be something you get into so then maybe roleplay doesn't matter? and you have to believe in the story.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Allie's 31st

treasure hunt

After last years birthday I thought the another treasure hunt was in order so Allie could go out and find out clues for her birthday. You hopefully get an idea from the image above as to the game. Very fun making it.

what's in a genre? apparently a lot.

Since finishing the first episode of everwake we have been looking at ways of developing it for the future. In time we hope to develop it's complexity and make it of equal complexity of some tv series but across different media channels and obviously through games.

Now this is not an easy thing and we are aware it will take along time to bring this to the players but we think the different levels and complexities will make a truly brillant game and experience. But there are two points that have been nagging me about the project. Firstly the argument that games are not stories and indeed stories are not needed to make a game work, and when people say this to me I always think about how I skip through the story of contemporary games such as call of duty which further re-enforce this in my mind. Yet is this the case when it comes to pervasive type games that have real world elements surrounded by a theme.

A really quick way of describing this is thus. If we describe a game through a story or more importantly a cultural understanding then instantly there are rules, fears and all manner of information that people instantly recognise. So as I am talking about stories I will give you two examples:

example one - You are the survivor of a zombie apocalypse, you have to stay alive and make it to safety.

example two - The population of earth has been infected by a virus. billions of people have died from the virus with some people coming back from the dead but having a lust for blood and a desire to kill anything that is considered alive. Among the billions of people who died there are some people who seem to be immune from the virus and are looking for join together for safety reasons. You have to try and find these people are get to safety.

So through your cultural knowledge of zombies through books, films and general myths and legends you understand the who premise of the game and in someways a number of it's rules (such as run from zombies), in a single line. In contrast example two says the same thing but is so hard to understand and also more importantly 'get into'.

So this is a very simple example and I guess you could argue that the game can still be separated from the story. But I think the question is for the pervasive gamers. Is does the story add to the game? but more importantly does the story change the way you play the game? if yes then surely the story is hugely important to the game?

So on to the second part of the blog. The issue of making a story and how it is classified. I was having a conversation a week ago with Kev and allie about how everwake could develop. Looking at if it could have sci-fi elements in it or should it turn more into a thriller or simply stick to a ghost story? while we made no decisions what became apparent is that all three of us had a totally different view point of what stories and films fit into genres.

So as a test what genre would the following films/series fit in for you?

- Misfits
- Heroes
- 28 Days Later

So Sci-Fi, Paranormal, fantasy, thriller what would they be?

I think what I am getting at is that just as things are converging within the media, could that mean that generes are becoming twisted together?

Sunday, 23 October 2011

playARK - Games & Talks

So at the heart of thinkARK we wanted to do projects that hopefully helped us explore social issues within our community. We also wanted to then share knowledge between the group of skills and expertise. More so in the last few projects we have made this aspect of shred knowledge being part of the actual projects we have created.

I think this has been at the fore more than any other event than at the recent playARK festival. As this was our first event fo this kind both in terms of thinkARK but also in terms of games we wanted to explore what play, creativity and games was to people and rather than keep the learning internal why not share the knowledge between as many people as possible? And then for those who have this knowledge or have just learnt this knowledge through the talks how about them practicing certain aspects of game and play through the second day of games.

I think the idea of a multi-discipline event if you like is something that I would like to explore more. In some ways as well I wonder if it could be incorporated and integrated even more. A lot more work i know but I wonder how much more people would get out of it?

HHHhhhmmmm I will have to have a think.

Everwake a social breakdown

I think alot of people struggle to see how a ghost story could be in anyway a FOR GOOD pervasive game. There has been loads and loads of things written about how games can be designed to make people aware of climate change and also others about how through a game you may do good things.

But what if you want to do this kind of project but think the audience maybe quite small at this kind of game and also the knowledge of how games and games mechanics work needs to be looked into?

Option 1 - You wait and don't do the project because you never quite have the right amount of experience/skill

Option 2 - You start to create games and slowly bring more and more social issues into the game.

Well I guess by now you know I took Option 2. So the initial everwake game has a very small social element (most of these being the intrinsic nature of pervasive games). The social aspects being people coming together to meet talk and share. These are some of the most powerful aspects of pervasive games and what set them apart from other experiences such as theatre and film.

Secondly there is an environmental aspect to the game with people 'experiencing' a place they thought they knew and a places being revealed to them. There was also a re affirmation with everwake of good and bad, which while quite broad still seems relevant to bring up.

So as everwake is hoped to be a series of episodes the questions is can we develop the game to have more and more sophisticated ways of introducing other socially good elements?

Well simply for me yes. We are working on an over arching story line for everwake as we speak but we have already broken it down to 6 episodes. With each episode slowly gaining more and more 'socially good sophistication'. It's an experiment and something that in time we will be able to give some idea of how it is going.

experience and a life in BETA

Over the last two years I have tapped into something that has always been with me. The concept of journey and experience is within us all but there is a difference when you decide to use this within how you live and how you work. I am passionate about always pushing and developing and ultimately doing.

This has led me and a group of others to be constantly developing new projects that challenge everything from time restrictions right through to technology and how businesses operate. I think what is also interesting is how this has always been with me but never really focused on it some how. The work I do for Hoffi for example is always very different we try to look at the company and design things to fit we do not design something to a house style for example. This has gone even further with the recent projects with thinkARK and the games I have been working on with Allie through everwake and playARK.

So what am I getting at? Well I think the concept is to realise failure is GOOD and should be embraced. And while I don't want to get too philosophical you only get one chance in this life, so why not leave it with the idea that you tried everything you could have in all the fileds you thought of. Remembering every minute you put into a project or journey is a minute closer to the goal or a minute more of rich content and understanding within that field. You put the time in and you get the results (in time). I guess finally the one point to leave you with is the idea of if things arn't moving fast enough in a project then keep at it and if you find yourself with some extra time on your hands why not start something else that might feed into the project later on down the line?

Everything will help you even if it to simply say that isn't what I want to do. Hope that wasn't too much of a rant.

Friday, 14 October 2011


Well I have not posted here for a while. Mainly due to us setting up a personal blog on I think however with the production of everwake it might be an idea to reopen this blog. So I have somewhere to discuss and think about the idea of game and what I am really interested in.

"How technology story and game come together in physical and non physical spaces."

So for as long as I can remember me and Allie have been working on everwake. It's now pretty weird that it's all over. I think because we did it at the same time as the playARK talks and games festival then in retrospect we probably bit off a bit too much, as I still havn't recovered a week or so on. But what I have been really shocked by is the emptiness and almost depression of the event being over. I am slowly coming around but the first few days were really very challenging.

What it chowed me was that everwake had obviously touched a nerve in an area of my brain that i have rarely accessed. I remember the last day of uni I had a similar reaction. The moment it's over there is silence and then nothing. The world moves on and the event is gone. Well at least for you anyway.

So back to everwake this is about the third tim eI have tried to sit down and write about it. I got pretty far on some occasions but then lost interested and either deleted it or forgot where I wrote it. I think everwake is something that has always been there for the last 10 years. The need to develop something that is an experience for people in many levels. A story first and foremost that you participate in rather than merely just view. A hybrid between story and ARG and a pervasive game. None of them really seeming to fit the description of it.

The idea of leading with a strong story a narrative people can be drawn on to create culturally understood rules. An ability to bring people together who may have never met and to give them an experience of a lifetime with an element of empathy and genuines choice. So many things were thought and planned during us creating the game that it was clear we would not be able to do it all. curating it down to something manageable was key to us creating a great game and also keeping within a very veyr very tight budget (thank you all the volunteers :-) ). This realisation led us to realise that an interesting thing was possible. Why dont we do a serialised pervasive game with story and online content?

Why don't we use the routines and language that has been established through television to create a six episode series? exploring the abilities of each platform/media such as audio, paper, blog, video, physical, app to best bring narrative to the players and viewers or lurkers.

but what about the reason I started doing games. What about the social good? what about the exclusivity of the game (only having 60 people being able to play the street game for example). Well while the initial game it is not immediately obvious there are huge amounts of commentary built with in the game. The good and evil the choice of should I shouldn't I and also the more basic social aspect to the game have all started a small community centred around everwake.

What we have really done however and more what we now hope to do is we hope to develop more and more social aspects within the makeup of the game to bring more obvious signs of good and effect. So as the player develops within the game so does their understanding of the issues that surround us. As it has been said 1,000's of times a journey starts with one step. I guess we hope that the steps are so easy that they do not really notice and they develop as the game develops.

But I think what has come back to me again and again. Although this is so hard to do when it is your work. We have come to realise that failure is good. Testing, prototyping and developing are the key elements of developing stuff that works. This kind of goes beyond the game word. In everyday life for example come back again and again and you will succeed.

I realise that has not really covered anything about what everwake was in terms of story and perhaps I will write that up in another blog. But what I have realised on this project. I have realised that there are some people in Cardiff that are truly world class at what they are doing in their fields. The skills and creativity we have available within Cardiff is really quite staggering. Also creative integrity is a really interesting paradox its a pain in the arse when you want to move forward but you know that it's key to listen adapt and develop or you lose exactly what you are paying for. Let the people do their job.

Which I think for this blog gives me my final thing to talk about. That is basically management and producing a story like everwake. Basically its huge. I think in the future there is indeed something to be said for the development of what a producer really does. Traditionally on one platform a producer would pull all the threads together about the same story told in the same way through the same channel.

But now we have the producer developing a project on multiple platforms using multiple types of media to create fragments of a single story. Each being pulled together so as a whole they can be consumed and totally understood. Yet also consumed individually and still seen as enjoyable and worth while. And finally the biggest I think of them all working with 'real' and non real. So basically on and offline line content and as it develops further how things like apps bring a further step in complexity.

This has been one hell of a ramble but I hope it has given an insight into initial unedited thoughts on everwake.