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Other people’s work

Interview with Tine Bech

As part of our research project for the King’s College London Arts and Humanities Festival, we’ve been interviewing different curators, designers, artists and architects about playful work for public space. This interview is with Tine Bech, a multidisciplinary artist and researcher. Her work explores the potential for transforming environments and human behaviour through the creative possibilities of play and game-making.

Her PhD thesis Playful interactions: A Critical Inquiry into Interactive Art and Play is available online, and gives a really interesting overview of some of her work and the things she’s discovered making it. The image above shows her work On The Bridge.

US: I wanted to ask about the invitations your work extends to people, these different invitations to play. You talk a lot in your thesis about how tiny little details make a big difference to how people respond – like with Catch Me Now, you talk about the difference made by how long a spotlight pauses for and how big it is, what colour it is. [Catch Me Now is a gently roaming spotlight that responds when you step into it, expanding to invite you to perform, but then quickly runs away from you]

I was wondering – is there anything more you can tell me about that? Silly example, I guess, but are there colours that are just more playful, for example?

TINE: I think for me the question of little details is more about being aware of how the body responds to different situations. I often draw on play theorists like Caillois and on aspects of letting go and having the body in movement, and how movement is the gateway into play. So I’m interested in an interactivity which is physical, visually physical gestures.

The body seems to count time differently than we do rigidly in our heads. So for something like Catch Me Now it’s very much a matter of hands-on testing, watching people, trying things out. I think the answer really is in how the body feels. It’s actually a quite fine-tuned element of interactive playing or interactive engagement that has to be quite precise.

It looks undisciplined because you’re creating something that other people are interacting with and people are wonderfully unpredictable. I’ve just written something online about this, the idea that “one subtle change, one step, leads to bigger change”. So one subtle invitation is to step in, and then there’s this sort of flow of commitment that leads to bigger things. Bigger moments.

Interview with Greg Trefry

As part of our research project for the King’s College London Arts and Humanities Festival, we’ve been interviewing different curators, designers, artists and architects about playful work for public space. This interview is with Greg Trefry, a game designer who co-founded the games festival Come Out & Play (and is director of the New York branch); also co-founded Gigantic Mechanic, which makes games with real-world physical elements; and teaches at NYU.

This is an extract from a longer interview, which will be included in full in a report at the end of our research project. The picture above is from Come Out & Play 2015, taken by Josh Lee.

US: We’ve talked before about people being able to drop in and out of games in public spaces – and not having to install anything, and the difference that makes to persuading people to actually play.

GREG: It’s a weird design problem. Most games – as opposed to playful things – are delimited by time and space. People can push the boundaries on some of those (“oh you can run around anywhere”) but a game still usually starts at a specific time and ends at a specific time, or you’re moving towards a winner and you have to be there at the end of the game to see that.  

So how do you make an experience that isn’t ruined if players can drop in and out at any time?

Interview with Heather Kelley

As part of our research project for the King’s College London Arts and Humanities Festival, we’ve been interviewing different curators, designers, artists and architects about playful work for public space. This interview is with Heather Kelley, a game designer, digital artist, and media curator. She co-curated the groundbreaking 2012 exhibition Joue le jeu / Play Along at La Gaîté lyrique in Paris, France, and is co-founder of Kokoromi, an experimental game collective. She’s worked on console games, physical installations, VR and pretty much every area of game design.

One of her games, Trente Pas entre Terre et Ciel (shown above, and co-created with Oscar Barda of Them Games), is a two-player jumping game derived from hopscotch which we showed at Now Play This earlier this year, so we started out by talking to her about itThis is an edited extract from the full interview, which will be included in our report at the end of the research project.

US: So I read something in your talk about making games in institutional contexts (PDF). You mentioned there that when you were making Trente Pas you spent a load of time trying out different sizes of squares for people to hop in.

HEATHER: Mmm. So we wanted the squares to convey information inherently, so things like the direction the number was facing and things like that were important because they would say what way the player should be facing at that moment.

And they had to be also accommodating of different abilities and sizes of humans. If they were too small like a child-size square it’d be too small for an adult, and it might symbolise that it’s not for them. But if it’s too big then there’s the opposite problem. Kids would think it wasn’t for them. So it was finding this sweet spot between the size of the square and also the distance of the squares from each other, because you want them to be encouraging movement! You want people to hop! But you don’t want them to have to do the long jump to get there.

And also because it’s a game for two people the distance between squares was important because sometimes you wanted those people to have to pass by each other very close, and at other times you wanted them to be apart from each other – although they might be holding hands, physically connected but at arm’s length.

 

US: And do you remember how big they were, the squares? What is the perfect definitive researched tested proper hopscotch size?