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Stories from the world of Urban Play

Hi there and welcome to the Trust in Play Community,

We are so happy you made it here! Since we all share the same passion for Urban Games, we would like to use this space to introduce ourselves and get to know each others a bit better. Feel free to share not only information but also a short story, it could be about your best urban project, or the time you really messed up! Or you could share what inspires you in your city or a great moment of trust.

Now, we know that it can be a bit intimating so let me start:

So, hi everyone, I am Maria Saridaki, I live in Athens and I am one of the artistic directors of this project along with @sebquack. I love getting lost in the cities and organizing playful “getting lost” moments for others. You can find more about me at morethangames.gr.

I want to share with you a time of great failure and trust. As part of an urban games collective, I once tried to organize a day of urban play near Acropolis, for adults with and without disabilities and everything, but everything, went wrong! My partners in crime got sick, I was also feverish, the game props would not stick on the ground, dozens of 4 year olds were destroying everything and I was ready to just give up.
Suddenly a group of students with Cerebral Palsy dropped in and along with their facilitators, helped me organize pop up game groups, with what props were left and everyone self-organized to enjoy one another’s company. We ended up having water fights and promising we will meet each other soon, even the 4 y.olds :slight_smile:

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So, hi, this is Charis :slight_smile:

I’m 24, I currently live in Athens, serving in the Hellenic Navy HQ as a Press Office Associate (compulsorily, that is!). I hold a BA in Communication, Media & Culture from Panteion University, and an MA in New Media & Digital Culture from Universiteit Utrecht. I’ve also worked for 8 months at an indie game studio, Tamasenco, as a Game Researcher/Communications Manager.

Although I don’t have explicit experience in designing games (except once, when I designed an escape room at Panteion University), I’ve developed and demonstrated a feverish interest in games of any form - though digital ones hold a special place in my heart :blush:. I’m currently working towards putting together a PhD research proposal on civic engagement and playful citizenship (heavily influenced by Utrecht’s Game Lab, which I was a part of). Bridging Games and Urban Studies fascinates me, as I adore interdisciplinarity, and I would love to explore and develop playful experiences in Athens!

Finally, a sort of funny story comes from my working environment: we had this meeting where we had to pitch ideas for a new game. So, I had prepared an illustrious Microsoft Sway presentation (hipster me) with what could be described as a rough GDD. However, our CEO got stuck in the building’s elevator so, naturally, everything was pushed back. When we managed to get him out, he insisted on having the meeting, though we had no electricity due to a power outage. BUT I had my laptop with me (though it’s a battery-thirsty beast) so I went on and did my presentation, on a 15,6” laptop with every setting (incl. brightness) set to power-saving mode. They loved it, so I guess the take-away point is: no matter how meticulous you are, a power outage is going to mess up your plans, so be prepared (right :thinking:)

UPD: I’m quite excited cause my abstract on building empathy through procedural rhetoric in video-games (case study: Bury me, my Love) got accepted! So, I will be presenting at Data-stories Conference: New Media Aesthetics and Rhetorics for Critical Digital Ethnography (Volos: 31/05 - 2/06)!

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Hi! I am Nina Luostarinen from Finland.

I have background in puppetry, performing arts and in new media content creation. I have been either producer or scenographer for various culture events, like National Aphorism days or Turku Medieval Festival and worked in theme parks like Moominworld.

I have also been a designer and animator for interactive games and webpages, and an animator for the National TV broadcaster YLE in Finland. In recent years, I have been working with several EU-funded projects seeking to cross-pollunate different forms of arts, culture and creativity and combing these with other fields.

I am fascinated by visual things in general and especially the power of photography. A common thread in my life has been believing in serendipity, existence of the invisible worlds and enabling illusions. I am interested in participatory art and creating plays and games that suit to introverts too: playing in urban surroundings is not only performative, it can also be done alone or in small groups, require time, planning and thinking. Especially useing cameras as playings and enables or playing is in the core of my interest. I love the idea that playing reveals new layers of the place where the actual playing happened. Those layers can be narrative, historical, political, emotional…almost anything. And once discovered, the place where playing happened will never be the same again.

I am Master of Culture and Arts and currenty doing my dissertations studies in University of Lapland (Rovaniemi, Finland) where I examine the possibilities of the art based play in place attachment usind my recent and upcoming urban (and rural) plays and games as source material.

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Hi, I’m Will. I make games and theatre in urban spaces as well as in theatre spaces.

A lot of my work involves using phones as a way of guiding players through space. Sometimes this is mostly through text messages, sometimes web apps, sometimes audio.

I’m Head of Experience for HiddenCity and an Associate of Coney. I also make my own work as Venice as a Dolphin. I’ve presented work at numerous festivals around the world including Playpublik, Athens Plaython, IgFest, etc.

Looking forward to chatting further.

Will

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Hello there!
I’m Vitor, a creative director and choreographer of experiences based in Amsterdam.
My interest in Urban games started a few years back while taking a class at my Masters called Big Games and it revealed the incredible potential of large scale games/experiential initiatives to connect people.
I believe in the power of play to foster urban resilience.

My areas of interest: Critical Design (Design Fiction; Speculative Design), Game Design, City-making; Art interventions in public spaces, interactive technology.

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Hi guys, I’m Kazz. I’m a Japanese-American visual artist and experience designer. I’m based in Norwich, UK. Really happy to find this group and space!

For me, playfulness and designing playful experiences are huge elements of my creative practice. Like meditation, being playful seems to unlock something within us that makes us more perceptive, open-minded, kinder and positive.

I wanted to join this group because I would like to increase the use of urban game interventions in my project outputs and would like to connect/collaborate/learn from other practitioners. What works for your community? What affects can we achieve? How can the method gain wider recognition, especially by public institutions?

My work focuses on getting responses from people about their experience of various environments. This could be about police violence in Rio de Janeiro or family experiences in art museums. I like to create playful interventions that activate challenging spaces into social and memorable spaces.

My :blush: project is something called Go Walkeez. It’s a family friendly heritage exploration kit I designed to make urban heritage experience more fun and engaging for children. It introduces a toy dog as the ‘family pet’ to take around town and take ‘sniffies’ (rather than selfies).

So, in a nut-shell, I love designing playful social experiences. But, wait, there’s more. I’m crazy about dogs and travelling. I love people-watching and people-drawing. My current goal is to bake the perfect loaf of bread (and eventually move into sourdoughs)! :bread:

Thank you and hope to learn more about your different practices!

Kazz

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Hi Nina,
Your MA research sounds really interesting! My research is in the heritage sector (museum learning design) and interested to hear more about your research as you mention photography. If you have a web-link, I’d like to read up about your interventions :slight_smile:

I’ve just signed up and have put my little bio below. Lovely to connect and look forward to hearing more about your work!

Kazz

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Hi Kazz! Thanks for your nice comment. It is actually Doctor of Arts research, but anyway, same topic :blush:

I am just updating my webpages but I will link it as soon as I get it finished. Meantime I would be more than happy to chat/email more about my ideas, connect and hopefully find ways to collaborate.

Nina

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Dear All!

It is very inspiring to look at your works and read your stories.

I am Michał Grelewski, from Lodz/Poland - that is the place where I did most of my games together with Departament Gier (Games Department), some of them made also in different cities and during games festivals.
Some of our works

Currently I live (for 6 years) in Saint Petersburg and make some urban games projects here.

My main interest in urban games is similarities and differences between “western” and “eastern” (meaning - former USSR) games. I am really fond of dirty, extreme russian games such as Encounter or Dozor.
If any of you will be visiting Saint Petersburg feel free to reach me for some city exploring.

As for the stories - I always think of the games festivals or some game designers gatherings where prepare games together, play each other games, do some crazy stuff and discuss not only games but also serious things that happen in our lives. Yes, I can describe this as a moments as a moments of trust.

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Ah! Even better!! Yes, please keep me posted. I am also working on my PhD, practice-based :).

My email is kazzmorohashi@gmail.com. I work with visitor photography as research tool in museum learning design, so what you briefly mentioned Perked my interest!

Speak soon!
Kazz

Hi urban play enthusiasts and game designers!

I am an urban Innovator and cultural practitioner, contributing towards open future commons, and I build powerful smart solutions for global urban communities dedicated to improving livelihood of urban spaces around the world. I co-create urban design solutions and I am interested in collisions of urbanism, design, architecture, technology and science. I’m very passionate about creative transformations of neighborhoods and making them smart for inhabitants.
Some of my core interests are storytelling, AR/VR innovations and transmedia creation. I am also the creator of games for urban communities and in the past I collaborated as partner in an urban expeditions project in Weimar and microgames initiative in Athens last year. In May I will be working at the University Brighton where I will focus on embodied experience and serious games for urban planning.

I was selected for MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp Brisbane 2017. In 2017 I studied in a highly selective program Advanced Entrepreneurship at Stanford University where I established collaboration with Stanford Research Institute and GSB Behavioral Lab. I was selected participant of the Future Innovators Summit on Artificial Intelligence: The Other I, working on the topic of Future Home at Festival Ars Electronica in Austria in 2017. I am Rotary Peace Fellow of Chulalongkorn University Bangkok, Thailand 2018. In my research I focused on studying water rights in Northern Thailand, and post-conflict and post-natural disaster/post-tsunami reconstruction of city in Aceh Province, Indonesia. I am Professional Fellow of Tech innovation & entrepreneurship program 2018, run by the U.S. Department of State and WorldChicago. I worked at the Great Cities Institute of University of Illinois in Chicago.

I am looking forward to connecting with all of you!

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Many greetings to all of the great people in here,

My name is George, I am a LARP Organizer located in Athens, Greece, and Co-Organizer of LARP Project Athens. Over the years I have participated in a number of LARP initiatives, ranging from fantasy combat larp, to modern social larps, horror larps, edularps, escape room larp one-shots, interactive games, live action quests, and many other types of live and digital role playing.

I am here in an attempt to push larp’s limits and create an urban-life recurring, ever-evolving experience, whether that is centered around live action role playing, exhibitions, theater, or another type of interactive medium.

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Hello, I’m Michael, living in Brussels since 5 years. I studied Visual Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. While rooted in Conceptual Art (especially Institutial Critique) and counting myself for a while among art and culture scientists I started painting some years ago. This allows me to develop my ideas in a more direct, playful :slight_smile: way.

I’m interested in play in a broad sense, yet, for now I would like to write to you about a particular project I did in 2017/18. In a series of 7 paintings I mixed 2 phenomena: the practices of the Fête galante in early 18. century in France and the meaning of the Interface in contemporary video games.

In terms of play the Fête galante is very interesting since it’s probably one of the earliest moments in history that the gathering of people for playful activities developed such complex political implications. The organizers of those gatherings were noble men and women, yet, they mixed with all kinds of people (a lot of artists and performers among them) from all classes. By doing this, they found a way to withdraw from the overly dominant French court (think of Louis XIV.). In fact, they established a kind of counter-court, using play as a form of resistance and emancipation. Social structures could be made visible without directly addressing them, without directly asking to change them (and, therefore, not being prosecuted by the officials easily). Antoine Watteau, the great Fête galante painter, were both promoting and sharpening the meaning of that. Additionally, he used the visual possibilities of the Arabesque to put (social) phenomena next to each other that were seen as incongruent before.

If you like, the Interface used in contemporary visualization is an evoluted Arabesque. It’s a way to organize information and, therefore, it’s able to render the social structures at its root visible (as well as it can hide them which is, unfortunately, much more often the case).

If you interested in that theme, please check out the work of Antoine Watteau. If you would like to see my work about it, please view it on michaelkral.eu (it’s the third block of works from above)

I’m happy to exchange further ideas with you on that topic!

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Even better to meet a PhD candidate! Please email me as I don’t want to take over this conversation thread with my replies. It’s kazzmorohashi@gmail.com. Sorry for the late reply, Easter holiday in the UK that was actually sunny = out of office :joy:

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Hey Michael!

this is a pretty interesting concept - I’d love to know a little bit about the way you approached this tool and how did you decide on what political and social issues you want it to be focused? Also, the blending of the interface and your understanding of it, with this social experiment, look like a pretty decadent mix, in the best sense!

I’d be also really curious to know how would urban game design enrich your portfolio - as I have no doubts it would!

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Hey Giorgos! very nice meeting you - I’m Natalia, I’m a community manager here and I’d be really curious to hear a little bit more about your experiences with LARP and how learning urban game design could improve/widen your toolbox? Also, what drives you to organise LARPs and to think of designing an urban game? I did it myself for a while, both participated, designed and organised urban games and I found it both really worthwhile as a learning experience and a way to push people out of their comfort zone. In fact, when I managed to get 1000 people to play Journey in Ljubljana in 2014, nobody could believe me - everyone leaves the city for the weekend on Fridays. And they stayed and run! It taught me a lot about mass event organisation and the ways in which you promote, design and build the game around a community, but it somehow was never as successful again, when people tried it after me. Maybe I just got lucky… :slight_smile:

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Hey Rotteja!

what an incredible portfolio! I’m especially drawn to all the stories related to water right and South East Asia - I used to teach at a university in East Java, and I lived in Nepal when they experienced the earthquake in 2015, so I’m feeling a lot of what you’re referring to here. Yet I’m also super curious in which ways did these two issues and challenges cross, and why were they used in the same research projects?

I’d be also very interested in hearing how would game design improve your work? I see a lot of potential uses, obviously, with such a rich intellectual and geographical experience :slight_smile:

Welcome to edgeryders, very nice meeting you!

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Hi Natalia, oh wow, great, so nice to hear that you worked in SE Asia so you definitely know the context a bit more. We can talk more about this, for sure, now I am very busy working in Berlin till 8 May and then I have a few days in between where we can connect before I head off to another work assignment in Bucharest. I will write more then, ok?
Have a great day,
Teja

Natalia, I just noticed you played Journey game in Ljubljana in 2014, are you from here? I am from Ljubljana myself :slight_smile:

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I have organised that journey, with two other people, complete anarchy! :slight_smile: I used to live there and work for MAO and BIO - btw, I am based in Berlin if you want to grab a beer in a free moment :slight_smile:

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