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Alice in Wonderingland: Museums and alternate realities

Alice in Wonderingland: Museums and alternate realities

World Without Oil figured into a talk I gave earlier this month at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle, as a guest lecturer for the UW Museology program. “Transforming Museums: Can Museums Learn From Games?” summarizes a lot of my philosophy about games and my outlook for the role of serious games in our common future. You can listen to the talk via this MP3 file and view the slides via this SlideShare presentation; the talk is about half an hour and there’s another half-hour of Q&A.

My thanks to Nina K. Simon for recommending me to the Museology program and to Whitney, Maya, Kylie and her sister Kari, and the other welcoming folks in Seattle.

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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.

It's got a cup holder and everything

It's got a cup holder and everything

WWO fan Leslie and others alert me that an interview I did last year for NPR with Jim Fleming has been recycled as part of a To The Best Of Our Knowledge segment on going green. You might give it a listen – not for my segment necessarily (about 40 min in) but for the fascinating (and WWO-echoing) early segments with Colin Beavan and Jeff Ferrell and right after mine, the “kid’s future” segment by Anne Strainchamps.

Leslie notes, “The host asked about your favorite WWO posting. One of my favorites was from a pharmacist who worked out a delivery route to serve his customers who lived at a nearby retirement home. I also appreciated the folks who were digging up their lawns to put in vegetable gardens. We have a couple of beds and will probably add more in time. My mother-in-law’s neighbors in Dubuque landscape with vegetables tucked in and around the shrubs. Very pretty.” Photo by tofutti break via Flickr.

The depo man does the job

The Petro Razor imposes, the depo man disposes

Signal of the times: Malia Wollan of the AP posted a story this weekend about the growing epidemic of abandoned boats. More and more pleasure boat owners are no longer able to afford slip fees, and more and more commercial boaters are being driven out of business by the double whammy of fuel costs and a sinking economy. Just as I reported earlier about hot SUVs, the solution seems to be depo men – paying people that take your vehicle out and burn it or sink it for you.

Wollan quotes Buck Bennett, a natural resources manager in Georgia: “I’m not an economist, but when putting 500 gallons of fuel in a shrimp boat costs more than the boat is worth, that is a sad thing.” Bennett knows of over 150 scuttled boats on Georgia’s coast, and guesses that’s only a fraction of the actual count.

The credit crisis dominates the news today, but invisibly for most people. What we can see, however, is how the credit crisis is concatenating with others, especially the oil crisis of 2008, and self-exposed industries are going under. US auto industries insist on making big cars right up to the end, and now their bailout is (rightly) looking less and less likely; with hulks littering the waterways, the marine industry is effectively dead.

When hulks littered the streets in the World Without Oil game, after the Petro Razor made its cuts and people walked away from cars, boats and houses, it seemed unreal – such was our mindset in 2007. In 2008 it not only seems more real, it is really happening. Photo by sunface13 via Flickr.

In case you haven’t seen it…

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.