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Asilomar

Instigating a retreat

…at the Creativity and Collaboration retreat, coming up this weekend in Asilomar, CA. The retreat’s for the creatives that work in the museum and exhibit space, and even in this stressed economy (because of the stressed economy?) it sold out quickly.

C2 has brought in people from outside the exhibits field to act as “instigators,” a role I’m pretty happy to take on. I’m the games (or play) instigator, along with Harley DuBois of Burning Man, Kate Shaw of LucasArts, and storyteller Tierney Thys. Mike Petrich and Karen Wilkenson from the Exploratorium’s Learning Studio round out the field of presenters. Very nice company to be in.

I’m designing a new game to run during the retreat (the idea of 100 people coming for these reasons is certainly an inspiration) called Faces In The Crowd – a kindler, gentler version of my game Spy School from Come Out & Play 2006… with invaluable assistance from Nina Simon of Museum 2.0. And feeling strangely calm about it all. Photo by yuzu via Flickr and Creative Commons.

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Rollercoaster time again

Rollercoaster time again

An article in the WSJ thinks maybe not, and I agree. As noted in a NYT article last month, OPEC has succeeded in cutting production and stabilizing prices. As the price of oil climbs steadily back up to the level that held when we played the World Without Oil game, even in the face of a global recession and shaky demand, one has to wonder if we played it and now it’s time to live it…

Faithful forwarder Laurel refers us to this article in the Boston Globe about happiness studies – will new data about what actually makes people happier change our policies as well as our thinking? This quote from it caught my eye:

Others have begun to think about how happiness data might change where people live. For example, the trade-off between house size and commute length is familiar to every suburbanite, but as Cornell economist Robert Frank has pointed out, the two things affect our mood in different ways. While we quickly adapt to a bigger house and start taking it for granted, research suggests that a long, trafficky commute is something we never adjust to, and that even grows more onerous with time. Work like this could give added heft to arguments for policy measures like higher gas taxes, and for zoning laws that concentrate housing and cut down on traffic and commuting distances – arguments that now tend to be cast chiefly in environmental terms, but which also might push people toward decisions that make them happier in the long term.

This echoes discoveries made in the World Without Oil game. People engaged in the game made similar discoveries: when the oil shock made their commutes more painful in the wallet, people began to rethink the exurban lifestyle. One wonders if serious alternate reality games might be a way for researchers to cross-check their happiness studies?

It was the world's first serious alternate reality game, a cooperative pre-imagining of a global oil crisis. Over 1900 players collaborated in May 2007 to chronicle the oil crisis with their own personal blog posts, videos, images and voicemails. The game ended after simulating the first 32 weeks of the oil shock, but its effects continue, as game designers analyze its unique gameplay and we all watch the continuing drama with global oil prices and supply.