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Stories from the world of Urban Play


#149

Hi everyone!

My name is Maria, I am an archutecture student from TIArch studio based in Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering, in Kazan, Russia.

I have been working on various architectural projects that challenged me and my teammates to create unique engaging spaces, to think about the ways spaces can affect people. Such architectural fantasies can grow further into clear coherent concepts, that help determine functional programs and spatial organization.

Trying out different techiques, working in various teams, I am also very interested in testing out different approaches for my work, both playful and reasonable. Hope that my attention and interest for public spaces concept, design and function are shared and we’ll be able to create something exciting!


#150

Hello Everyone!

My name is Carolina and am based in a comfortable non-space somewhere in between Athens and London. You can also call me Carolimpro. I am an architect and improviser and have been teaching architecture for many years with a people-centred focus and experimenting with designing-by-making techniques. I consider myself a junior urban gamer in public spaces. I am still learning and full of ideas of urban plays I want to make happen. So am psyched to become part of this community! My obsession is about site-specific urban play outdoors. I am interested in tremendously curious movement in public spaces that can turn into a playful interaction/connection point between different communities, ages, ethnicities. Bringing people together, by ways of movement and leaving tangible and virtual traces of our movement in space! Traces of trust. Two years ago, I approached Physical Actor artist, Judita Vivas, to found what we call CRACKS (Collaborative Research on Architecture Creative Kinetics and Somatics) and we have been experimenting with movement and devised structures in public space ever since. We presented our work in the recent Hybrid Practices conference at the University of Malta in March 2019.

So my short story goes like this: in August 2018, we were invited to host a site-specific play workshop for teenagers in the Routes in Marpissa Festival, on the island of Paros in Greece. Marpissa is one of the most beautiful and obscure traditional village of the island. The theme of the experiential Festival was ‘Salt’. We did our research, got interested in the way salt would be transported to the households of the island village and noticed how the locals were using bamboo fences to separate their semi-private parts of their houses from the more public spaces. We devised a game of movement and pop-up structures made by the participants around this idea: tracing the salt. Finding the salt in the urban cracks of village squares. What it would be like to look for something that does not belong in the public space, like salt? CRACKS in the salt, then. We prepared our materials, huge bamboo sticks, colourful string and salt (the one you use for snow), and occupied one of the main vernacular squares of the village to play with the local Greek children for 2-3 hours. It was really funny, because when we were about to start, we had visitors from France, Germany and Australia joining us (both children and adults). We invited them in and improvised a game on the spot so that participants could communicate through movement rather than only language (while we were facilitating in Greek and English simultaneously)! We played the ‘bamboo game’ and the ‘les aveugles’ game and we invited the participants to create their own personal story about exploring the space for salt, creating a ‘bamboo score’ that traced their curious movement. At the end of the game, we decided that from now on we will be devising movement games for inter-age groups!

So, we are still working on that and this why I am so happy to become part of this community and to exchange notes with you. I am also core member of the Urban Transcripts non-profit organisation and we have been organising workshops about public spaces in different European cities for the last 8 years. I coordinated the project in Athens: Transforming the [re]public, and co-created the AthensPuzzle platform that we are still looking to develop more. At the moment, I am responsible for developing our Urban Play website (urbanplay.urbantranscripts.org) – watch this space :), showcasing our public commons game that was developed by one of our working teams, called REMIX©ITY, that was pilot-tested in Berlin in June 2018. We are looking to host an updated version of REMIX©ITY in Athens, later in 2020.

That’s it for now! I have been going through some of the resources you have been posting in this community and it is amazing to see the different approaches and activities that happen all around! Keeping my eyes peeled!

Best,
C.


#151

Hello everyone,

I was born with the name Thibault, and to this day a lot of people still call me by this name. Even though the name looks slightly complicated (to non-French speaking people), when pronounced it is actually very short and simple (say ‘tibo’). When I grew up most of my friends very given nicknames, also my siblings got some but I remained Thibault. I became very sad over this when I was young. Especially when I realized that the cool thing about nicknames was that they were usually given to you by others and not something that you would choose yourself.

During my late teens I discovered literature and become obsessed with it. And when I get obsessed with things I want to create them myself. Now, there is this really nice convention in literature (and many other artsy disciplines) that you have an artist name, and this, unlike nicknames, was something that you did in fact decide for yourself. So when I was writing I became Ibrahim Flachskap (don’t ask me why, it was more the sound of the name that appealed to me than anything else). Turned out that Ibrahim was writing pretty bad poetry, and later I became ashamed of what I had written so I abondened the pseudonym, but continued writing nevertheless. However, I kept certain traits of Ibrahim as a sort of identity with me. To this day, whenever I write critics (of poetry – which I do sometimes) I will use Ibrahim as my to-go identity and still publish in his name (even though the identity has become one of a fictional chracter; that means I am writing critics of literature from the perspective of a fictional chracter that knows that he is a character).

Long story short: I started collecting names and identities over time, and sometimes when I go to a party I decide which identity I will go as. All of them are telling their own little story, and I won’t bother you with more of them.

Anyways, I am telling this little story because I believe it says something about how I’d like to go about things (and ultimately about the work that I do). Firstly, over the last couple of years I have realized that my main interests lays in being playful about my everyday life, about things that affect me on a daily basis. In the way that choosing to adopt several identities helped me to explore different ways of being at a party or in different spaces, this approach of playing with varieties of options in the same setting has always had a liberating effect on me. It helps me to understand “our” culture (that is: the culture that I am surrounded by) from different perspectives, while also deepening my understanding of what I personally value.

Secondly, the story contains a momentum of what I have started to call “infinite mystery” (a term I borrowed from a friend). The idea here is that the world is full of mystery to explore, and that we will never run out of stuff that is alien to us. But sometimes it feels to me that the world we move through tries to be as transparent and clear as possible (and don’t get me wrong, in some cases this is a good thing). Sometimes I wish that I would accidentally bump into a weird secret society or find Alice’s rabbit hole. Pick up a sticker, call a number, and suddenly I am led into a shady courtyard with purple lights. Something like this. Or very different. Little openings in the fabric of our everyday life that open paths into other worlds.

Anyways, finally to the somewhat technical part of this intro: I am Thibault, 28 years of age at the moment and living in Copenhagen. I have studied Theatre and Literature in Bern and Berlin, and started running my own theatre pieces the moment I entered university. Over time I realized that the kind of impact I wanted to have on the world did not find its proper tools in this field, so I shifted towards more interactive approaches. I co-founded the Social Space Agency, an organization to systematically explore social conventions and practices in a playful manner, and the anti-bank Trade Sachs that combines methods from activism and theatre to question our financial system (because really, it is just a big bloody scam). And in 2017 I initiated a series of new cultural formats for the everyday with Nina Lund Westerdahl: Cultural Protocols.

I have not yet found time to read through all these 142 replies (at the moment) yet (and let’s face it, I don’t think I will read all of them), but I am hoping to find some meaningful encounters here!

May you see friends in all!


#152

Hello,
My name is Michalis, 37 and I live in Athens, Greece. I work in the field of Audiovisual Arts, mainly as a Motion Designer and Video Editor. I also have some experience in Sound Design and Music Composing.

I play games since my childhood, with no breaks whatsoever. Whether it was Hide&Seek, Zelda, Magic: The gathering or D&D it made no difference for me. As a Game Master in more than a couple of Role-Playing Games, I have been creating my own adventures and worlds for more than 20 years. I even created and hosted some Live Action RPG’s. However, all of the above were to be experienced only by my closest friends.

I decided to make the next step (or rather leap) about three years ago. That’s when I started attending game jams and meeting other game designers. It was in one of those jams that together with three friends we created Team Scarlet and “Status”, a physical game (a variation of musical chairs actually) that focused on the themes of power and Social Status. The game was very well received and it has been showcased in a number of International European Festivals.

Seeing people having fun, while at the same time raising serious questions about these difficult themes, was one of the most inspiring experiences for me.

Driven by the first post by Charis, I will share a story from my obligatory military service in Greece.
I was in an Island in the borders of Greece in a very small military camp. I quickly realised that I was the only hardcore gamer in the camp. There were some casual videogamers, but nothing worth mentioning.
However, after getting to know all of the guys, everytime I was servicing as a sentry, I was sharing stories from my RPG Campaigns. At first it was a little bit awkward, but after a while, many fellow draftees were asking to serve in the sentry box with me, because they were liking my stories.
From then on, everything was quite easy. I suggested creating a campaign, and half a dozen were interested. I crafted a homebrew (or rather campbrew) system using backgammon dice and we started playing.
Long story short, we ended up playing even at 4.00 AM while we were supposed to guard the outpost. They even “wasted” their last sortie before leaving the island (A greek island in the summer, mind you) to play the last session for our campaign.

I can still remember their eyes shining while I was narrating the last words of the epilogue.


#153

Dear lovely people,

It is so nice to read about your stories, journeys and experiences. I am so excited about this new community - such an interesting field with so many opportunities and so very well needed, in my opinion. Urban games have such huge potential but it hasn’t been widely recognised (yet), so hopefully this initiative and community will be able to change this and fill some gaps!

My name is Niki, and I have a rather diverse background. At first I studied English and Egyptology, then completed my BSc in light industrial engineering, I hold an MA in sustainable design, and MSc in leadership for global sustainable cities and I am also an interior designer. Currently I am in my second year of a PhD at University College London’s Bartlett School of Architecture - within it in a super-exciting place called the Institute for Global Prosperity. My research investigates how can we co-create collaborative infrastructures, and games and play has a very important role in this - through these I aspire to provide informal learning to neighbourhoods (in Budapest and Beirut) in an equal and diverse manner so they can learn about particular nature-based solutions and ecosystem services, gain skills and be able to make more informed decisions to exercise their right to the city. I did my fieldwork in a neighbourhood in Budapest last year, where I worked with an NGO to develop a particular game especially for this research, and now I am taking this to Beirut to further develop, tailor, refine…and of course play with a local community there too! After this second round, indeed another ‘feedback loop’ will follow and the ultimate goal is to come up with another version which will be open access,freely available for anyone (activist, municipality, NGO, etc.) who would like to do something to improve their neighbourhoods’ public spaces, but isn’t sure how to/where to begin. I really believe in the transformative power of games and recognise gamification as an excellent ‘tool’ to facilitate a deep level of citizen participation - also importantly, guaranteeing to have fun! I am currently focusing on ‘analogue’, offline, physical games (believing in the power of physical human interactions), but in the future would like to investigate the digital realm and opportunities - probably using an online game to facilitate citizen science approach in data collection, building on my current research.

Looking forward to have stimulating discussions with you and learning a lot trough them.


#154

Hello everyone!
My name is Iuliia, I live in the best city ever, in Saint-Petersburg. I am an artist.
In my creative works,I try to follow the intuition and aesthetic preferences, which are based on my classical education. I explore the human relationship with nature, the megalopolis, society and the environment. The main focus of my artistic research is the relationship between art and social, urban and natural environments. My preferred medium for work is multilayered bending to achieve depth of color and a balance between shape and content. I successfully combines classical glass-working techniques with modern sculpture and graphic art.
I like to impress the idea through the installation because of it is one of the best way to communicate with viewers. I want people to stay with the project tête-à-tête for catching symbols and images. My aim is trying to help the spectator to look at the work on the basis of their personal experience.
It is important for me to stop the moment, to depict the mood of a particular object, an impression of the landscape and the people. For these aims I use the beauty and the effects of the material, whether they are colors, pencils, or a piece of glass. Having an image in my minds, I understand that the project will take place, when will find the balance point, the point of intersection of the space, time and emotions. This is where all my potential is sent to. After all, the work turns to be poetic and sincere when there is a connection in random.


#155

Hello everyone.

My name is Kiprianos and I live in Athens.

A few months ago I deciding to quit my job and explore the idea of working with physical and urban games as a participatory art form. What a niche genre to step into, right before finding out a project like this will start in your city! For this opportunity and the excellent first two webinars you have already produced, I am thankful beyond words!

Regarding my background I studied photography, worked in marketing (targeting and audience building), I am obsessed with all forms of communication, and love games both as entertainment and as an impactful form of expression. Most relevant for urban gaming I also had the luck to participate in Team Scarlet that created Status, a physical game with a political theme, inspired from the folk game Musical Chairs.

I always enjoyed visual and performing arts, but it wasn’t until about 8 years ago that I saw gaming as a mature and engaging form of story telling. I was truly amazed by the power of this medium and it made me reevaluate things, it clicked with me more than anything until then.

A couple years ago and after a long journey, things took one more turn.

I became fascinated by the power of physicality in games, using your own body to tell a story, curated in subtle ways from the creator. I had the opportunity to see and participate in a couple of extraordinary LARPs from a Nordic team that came to Athens Biennale 2019 and see some amazing works and meet amazing people in Berlin’s A MAZE. 2018, in which we had the luck to also exhibit.

But recently I felt there is not enough such “content” in my city to consume.

Thus it made me, for the first time, actually thirsty to participate, create and help expand this beautiful scene.


And as for a story, this is my first experience with physicality in games.

We created a concept for a game in a game jam, challenged to make an art game with a political theme.

The idea was to play musical chairs but with all the chairs being truly uncomfortable (conveying our feeling for todays politics) and with each one being clearly worst than the previous, underlying the existence of different classes in a society.

It was a concept we loved but we couldn’t present it just by talking about it.

We decided to make a video presentation, but to shoot a playthrough we had to find some players in the game jam.

It wasn’t easy in a convention to sell the idea of sitting on cigaret buds, sharp stones or water and then being dirty and wet for the rest of the day.

With great difficulty and the art of begging we found a small group, which gave us great footage and we all had fun for hours. But this was with the few crazy volunteers! The majority of people we asked looked at us like aliens! We never thought anyone else would like to play it.

But we were very happy with it, we presented our video proud for our participation and started packing.

And then people started asking us to play.

We quickly improvised, recreated the game, and enjoyed it for hours more, still shocked!

Earlier we couldn’t talk four people into it, but now more than a dozen was actively asking for it, just by seeing that other adults were having fun.

We learned that day that fun doesn’t care about dirt or water, about your public image or your self-awareness!

Pure fun is very contagious, some times even misunderstood and always extremely powerful!

This was the day I first thought that in the world of entertainment fun is neglected to say the least, and today I think the issue of trust in play is indeed more relevant than ever.


#156

Hello Everyone!

My name is Felipe, I am a 23 year old artist (I am still attempting to code my own website and it is still in the works but I figured I’d add the “work in progress” here anyways :man_shrugging:) and musician based in NY. I just completed my B.A. in New Media from Purchase College. I am originally from Brazil, but I grew up here in the U.S. A professor and friend of mine was kind enough to share this new endeavor with me.

Technology is the application of scientific knowledge to develop machinery and equipment for practical purposes. Since the early beginnings of the human race, there has been a strong correlation between human beings’ survival and technology. Technology and the access to information have had the most dramatic impact on different civilizations throughout human history. I create art that dives into this connection between humans and technology. I contrast it with what is opposite of technology and everything it represents. The opposite to me is nature, entropy, and the natural laws of the universe. Although technology relies on nature, it also attempts to tame it, which is paradoxical. A common theme in a lot of my work is nature aesthetics. Contemplating on the seemingly opposite worlds of nature/entropy, and technology/control.

The penetration of tools, devices, and informatics in our societies is shaping the 21st century. I am interested in analyzing the ever-increasing reliance on technology, which is most apparent in cities. Urban play is a great format into approaching the complexity of this new phenomenon. I think more than ever, as we are slowly being alienated by technology and consumption, community and group-based efforts prove to be a great alternative to rebelling against this. Through urban play, we can create a space where strangers can come together and learn from another while having fun.

As a new media major, I have slowly become interested in all of this. Though I don’t consider myself an “urban game designer,” or strictly a “game designer.” I have taken the initiative to learn about many different mediums and how to use technology to create art, and experiences. As a result I developed skills in sound design, music production, game design, video art, and a few others. I’ve made projects in Processing and P5.js, web art, music composition and sound design, Unity 3D, video editing and video art, graphic design, and painstakingly recreating a picture of a bongo using Adobe illustrator from scratch… (thanks SUNY school system :no_mouth:). I feel I have a good foundation in art making in general through new mediums (mostly digital).

I am here to learn and to dive into the ever-expanding world of artists making meaningful work, inspiring people to think a little deeper. During my senior year, I developed a year long project that was part research paper and part art project. Here is a little blurb I wrote about it:
It is ironic that the evolutionary struggle to control the intrinsic chaos of the universe is slowly leading humanity into their own chaotic demise as a species. The past four hundred years have brought up remarkable changes. Humans have found themselves in a rare pocket that is pushing upstream against the tide of entropy, and quickly losing sense of the dangers they and the societies are causing. “Human Era,” part research and part virtual experience, combine to take the user on an experience outside of the “system” in order to look from the outside in. Critically inspecting the twentieth-first century and the future of the planet. Inspired by Nobert Wiener, The Anthropocene, George Orwell, The Matrix, and more. The project takes the user and reader on a philosophical journey through geological epochs and evolution, planetary destruction and toxicity due to human activity, as well as the mechanisms of information and technology.

The project itself took shape in the form of a virtual experience using Unity 3D. Unfortunately I still haven’t gotten around to uploading the game online, but you can watch a recap video of the installation here. The experience of exhibiting the work through an installation taught me a lot about presentation and captivating an audience. As well as the beauty of exchange and communication between humans in a physical space. This project inspired in me to dive deeper into this kind of thing, but not alone, this time I am looking to learn from others and collaborate with other like minded artists. I am amazed at all of the work I sifted through on this thread! Everyone in here is truly inspiring.

Anyway, I hope I didn’t bore you too much with all of this rambling. Looking forward to finding out more about the school of urban play.

Cheers!
FR


#157

Hi Samuel, the name and location has me enamoured with your school.


#158

Hi Mark, I also loved the 80s, which is why your photo is ace. From one fellow Otaku cliche to the next - hola!


#159

Hello everyone, I am Anna from Hungary. I am a landscape architect, enthusiastic about built environment education. I am so happy to see so many enthusiastic urban game developer here!

I am proud to be the vice-president of the NGO kultúrAktív https://kulturaktiv.hu/en/ where we develop innovative methods to bring the built environment closer to children and youth. Games are one of our favorite tools. I would like to share a motivating moment with you.

It was the first street testing of our game called urbanity https://kulturaktiv.hu/en/projects/urbanity/ and we were not quite sure how it is going to be perceived by the citizens of Budapest. Even though we were in the downtown, it was extremely challenging to stop local people for a quick 5-10 minutes long play. Luckily, we ended up with a group of 6: a father with two children, and three university students.

In the game, you choose your favorite from ready made a yes or no questions to debate. The question selected was the following: ‘do you think here are enough trash bins on the street?’. The discussion was going on for a while, and the father wanted to convince his son: ‘if there would be more trash bins on our street, there would be no littering, because people would through their trash there, don’t you think my son?’. The son was silent for a while, but ended up saying the following: ‘I am not quite sure about that. More trash bin wouldn’t solve the problem. First of all, people should learn not to litter.’

What a moment, I thought. And I was happy to see that after the first moments of surprise, the father started to accept his son’s idea, and started to become proud. I loved watching how traditional power structures of a family can change inside of the game, and that these people were able to see each other from a different perspective.

Thank you for reading. Hope to have more chance for exchange. :slight_smile:


#160

Hi there,
seems that i’m just in time to introduce and join you fellow makers!
I’m Julien from France, i’m a performer & educator, and i run an experimental collective (Dcalk) mostly concern by politicaly involve games (either by content than by support).

From time to time the collective begin to design an open source “digital” toy library to host free licenced games (physical games that can be DIY reproduced). This"Ludobox" project aim me to give few workshops for librarian in west Africa where a topic was to explore the origins of "print and play " games.
One of the exemple of theses “ancient” game was the 1930’s Battleship who was unknown everywhere a gave this workshop…
From there i get more confident that archiving even the more simple/low-tech pattern can lead to spread joy for few dollars!

(here a Piratebox hidden in Niger)


#161

hi@@@
I am Evika from Greece. I have been involve for quitesoemtime in urban regeneration projects in Greece and I teach a specific course in the Athens University on humanitarian technology ans participatory design. Serious game is essential part of my work. I would like to join this vibrant community for advancing my skills but also for inspiration :slight_smile:


#162

Hey ! They love international people there so don’t hesitate to come, even for one year it’s a bit of like family in this call, you will quickly meet some great people in Paris !


#163

Hi All!

I am Nikola hailing from Bulgaria!
For the past 6+ years I have been a computer programmer and a volunteer at the local Red Cross.

I am interested in the circular economy, urban farming and for this reason I am involved in an automatic aquaponic gardening system and a reverse vending machine for used electronics, clothes, and batteries.
I have designed mobile application games and can’t wait to try my hand in urban game design!

Thank you!


#164

Ah thank you! Yes it was so fun to make…
I think there is something about trees that opens up an honest exchange between people - so very interesting to hear about your other experience with tree engagement. Can you remember where it was?


#165

Hello to everyone! My name is Kostas and I live in Athens.

In July 2018 and after 2 years of preparations, I established my firm, “Creators of Cosmos S.M.P.C.”, the first Hellenic company entering the world of the Creative Industries, by engaging in the design, organization, production, establishment and execution (operation) of Live Action Roleplaying Games (L.A.R.P.) events, and the evaluation of such games, through key performance indicators related to each original script-product.

Our scenarios are applied in four environments (natural, digital, phygital, virtual) with an aim to highlight the particular physical and cultural characteristics of each installation area, thus achieving their worldwide differentiation. Under its operational framework the company also acts on behalf of creators as the first global organization to manage royalties related to the scripts, as symbolic products of the creative industry, according to international laws for intellectual and commercial rights exploitation.

Up till know our products have been presented in Turkey, Palestine, Greece (Nafplio – Athens) and our MVP is to be launched on Mount Pelion (Municipality of Zagora-Mouresi), whilst we are to meet the French, Serbian and Japanese market in late 2019 and establish a research program for phygital environments, specified to cultural heritage exploitation in urban environments. Up to the moment our MVP is my beloved project, due to the fact that it will help the company to be introduced in a wider global audience. I must admit that usually I mess up everything in order to make something out of it!

Thank you for your time, reading this.


#166

Hi ProducedMoon,
It was in Australia, but I am also working on a tree project…who knows, maybe we can collaborate one day.
cheers, B


#167

Aloha players :wave: You guys are awesome. I’m in awe! Seriously.

I’m Stefano and I love ‘bringing out the kid’ in everyone. Currently living in Berlin yet I was born in Venezuela and was raised in the US & Spain.

I love designing playful, weird and wonderful experiences that challenge people to jump outside of their comfort zone while connecting with complete strangers. It’s amazing what happens when people who’ve never met before go through these moments of ‘discomfort’ together. I’m interested in how play can create meaningful connections and break down barriers.

In general, I love using game design elements in every aspect of our life! This lead to me start a ‘gamified’ travel project (Epic Llama) where like-minded strangers are grouped together and sent to a surprise city in Europe. Before departure, they are presented with a series of mystery envelopes which guides them (and challenges them) throughout the weekend. It’s kind of like a travelling scavenger hunt. :rocket:

More recently, I started an event series called ‘Playground for Adults’ - a safe (and silly) space for adults to come together, play, be ridiculous, meet new people and bring out their inner child. The fourth one will be in Berlin in a few weeks in Volkspark Friedrichshain. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Life is too damn short to not play. These days I’ve been hearing a lot about how hard is it to meet people in big cities (especially Berlin). In general, loneliness is on the rise and I think games might be the answer to stop this madness!

1001 hugs from a surprisingly warm Berlin :sun_with_face:
Stefano


#168

Hi everyone!!

All these stories are really inspiring! I hope I get to join the group too!
I am Rishi from Netherlands. I am a learner and a problem-solver.

Here is a short summary of my professional journey so far - I have studied chemical engineering (for Bachelor’s) from Singapore, and then worked in two startups learning new venture creation, business development and marketing for 2 years. I taught Fun Science games and experiments to primary school children for 1 year, and then moved on to coaching MBA candidates for 3 years. Thereafter, I pursued a Master’s in urban management and development specializing in sustainability and climate change. I worked in a sustainability consultancy for a short while and then began my PhD in circular economy and circular business model design.
In entrepreneurship, in urban management, in coaching and teaching - the one thing I found common - was that while playing games and having fun, we can achieve any herculean task relatively easily!! And that’s why I want to join the world of Urban Play.

Hoping to join you guys and design some epic games together!!
Warm wishes from Rotterdam!
Rishi