Raise Haiku Ratio

At Now Play This last year, we ran a game called Woodlouse (created by Jake Simpson and Pete Morrish). To play Woodlouse, you think of words (like “woodlouse”) that have more vowels than consonants. That’s it. If a word qualifies, it’s “a woodlouse”.

When we ran the game, we had a big piece of paper with some marker pens nearby. We put instructions out, and I wrote up a few sample words (in different coloured pens, with an unconvincing attempt at faking different handwriting styles). Then we invited people to write up any woodlouses they could think of.

The History of Text Generation

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen a lot of people write interestingly about computer-generated text – partly as a result of National Novel Generation Month, which ran through November and prompted some really lovely generated texts.

And as I read, I started wondering about the history of text generation. Not the twentieth century stuff, the Dadaists and William Burroughs and all the later work that happened once computers came into the picture. The old stuff, from the nineteenth century and before. “This won’t take long,” I thought. “There can’t have been much going on.”

So hey, I was up till 3 last night reading and guess what: it turns out I was really really wrong. There’s been a ton of text generation going on over the past thousand years, and it’s fascinating stuff. Most of it comes from writers who really feel like they’d be making deeply confusing experimental games if only they hadn’t died back in the 1680s.

Games, Physical

The Light Machine

Charles and Ray Eames made joyful play part of a serious and thoughtful design process – play to explore materials, to find new ways of looking at the world. Making toys and creative games sat alongside their product design practice, and each fed into the other.

Around the Barbican’s exhibition of their work, the Creative Learning department commissioned us to run a drop-in activity that connects to the Eames’ work for their Family Play event. The Light Machine is the result. It’s a game designed to trigger joyful creativity, and we were thrilled with how people threw themselves into playing with the tools we gave them.