Hypernaked was at Playful 11 a few weeks back, the annual one-day event dedicated to all things play and game related. The day was a smorgasbord of insight, intrigue and all round cool stuff, way too much to get through in one post, so today and tomorrow we will give you our take on six things we saw that inspired us the most. First up…
Playing with cities rather than in them
Some of the most charming and oft cited examples of play embed game mechanics in the real world; Pacmanhatten and Nike Grid are two examples you will likely be familiar with. But what if the city was not the playground, but a player itself? Matthew Sheret made the observation that initiatives like Tower Bridge twitter feed allow you to have a relationship with a part of your city you know well but seldom interact with, and teased the idea that buildings, monuments could be more than reatures of than the playing field, but players in a different, much bigger game.
Games can be art
And not in the ‘interactive installation’ sense, but in the bonafide, joypad-in-hand sense. A talk from Richard Lemarchand (Lead Game Designer at Naughty Dog, the studio behind titles such as Crash Bandicoot and the Uncharted series) on his approach to game design drew on a few beautiful examples of what he called ‘experiential games’: games to be appreciated aesthetically and emotionally rather than competitively. You may have seen flOw and Safari for PS3 before, but the PC based The Graveyard and Dinner Date are lesser known and really help make the case for the artistic merit of genuine, playable games. As well as being beautiful, examples like these remind us that play is not just points and prizes, but about creating engaging experiences, and these can be richer than the application of a basic ‘how do I win’ mechanic.
Another thought from Richard in reference to the animations he put in Uncharted 2 when players tried to punch the innocent villagers (you can see these here). The insight was that this behaviour is not a sign of malevolence, but demonstrated theplayer’s inherent curiosity to test the boundaries of the gameworld. Rewarding this curiosity, even with something simple, brings tangible delight to the player. Some brands pay attention to this well: The labour Apple have put into Siri’s playful attitude (try repeatedly asking her to tell you a story) or Google’s many nods to internet culture, are all ways of rewarding this curiosity to test the boundaries of the game in a playful way. Even a low-fi example like the bottom of an Innocent smoothie carton is still an application of this principle, and although another Playful speaker Louise Downe cited this in warning of the weirdness of play without a personality, rewarding curiosity can be a way for brands to develop their character, and create charming, effective communications at the same time.
That’s enough for today, but come back tomorrow for 3 more