Category Archives: games

Hacking Monopoly

Ishan Markandeya came over to Sydney and we co-designed a special Futurescouts session for the course I teach for a group of MBAe Business Students at UTS. We flipped Monopoly and asked our students to hack the game further, to prototype resilient business for a time of transition, to experience the commons, to create economic fictions.

Group size: 3 – 6 pax
Playtime: 1-4h

What:
We hacked Monopoly to offer a collaborative game that educates about commons-based business modelling.

How:
The game is played like monopoly, but we changed the properties to ones that are systemically related to the intersection of economics and politics. The community chest contains cards on resiliency and chance cards pose challenges to growth and profit maximisation. There are five currencies, for example, reputation, time, and natural resources. The game is designed to be hacked further by its players, so that new rules  emerge by way of storytelling. The game win is when all properties belong to the commons and the players begin regenerating spaceship earth.

The goal of Polypoly is not to bankrupt your fellow players, but rather to engage in a non-zero sum game to create “steady-state” economic systems. To win Polypoly is to create the highest quality of life for all life through abundance.

That’s not to say you’ll reach it, though – it all depends on players choices.

The conversations and stories that emerge are how we create a healthy dialog about values, economic ideals, and a place for participants to engage in vibrant discussion about 21st century economics, governance and value.

Compete and cooperate to buy properties of an economy. Commoner, Capitalist, Communist, Socialist? There’s ways to play them all. You might be surprised at your own decisions.

Balance multiple currencies for various social and economic advantages. Cash, Time, Reputation, Influence, and Natural Resources all have buying power! How will you manage your resources?

For more information on the game visit polypody.us.
This prototype is an ongoing collaboration with FutureScouts.

Level Up – Resilience and Empathy Card Game

In Bavaria, in not so ancient times, 30 researchers from different faculties at 18 universities got together to develop their field of study through a lens of “resilience”. They worked for a year and came together in groups of 2 or 3 to then design games based on their research. That means, when playing this game, players will learn about resilience and will have to tap their empathy, not to win or gain points but to increase the spirit and joy around the table. 

2016-09-23-09-58-19Group size: 5 – 8 pax
Playtime: 10 mins – 1h

What:
We designed this storytelling card game to aid groups in companies or cooperatives to tap their empathy with each other and solve resiliency problems of their collective behaviours or projects.

How:
The game starts with a shared problem or design question. Then, prompted by either danger or solution cards (based on resilience factors found by the academics), each player takes a turn to tell a part of an emergent story relating to the key word they drew. The prompt will be put on the table, so that all cards lie open in the end. Bit by bit, players draw cards and decide whether they can be matched (“solve a danger”). In rounds, players takes a new card per turn and continues the story, using the keyword they drew and their imagination. The story is built successively around the table, always relating to the project or problem at hand. This way, the group has a conversation that might solve some of the open questions of their problem in a playful way.
To juice up the game, there is a buzzer that can be hit when someone guesses what character trait (empathy) another player projects.
The round ends when all cards are matched on the table. The next round is based on a new problem or design question that relates to the larger topic. The game ends when players decide they have played long enough. 🙂

Here is a play manual pdf: Manual_Level Up_Resilience Empathy Card Game_Full Set

Superhero Card Game

Play this game with a group as an icebreaker or as an energizer to make people talk casually and intimately to learn something about themselves and their peers.

GSuperpower card pic by student_croproup size: minimum 10 pax
Playtime: 5 Min intro, played across breaks, 10 min framing, ideally leads into a self-inquiry game (ask us)

What:
The game objective is to give insight into our life journey and empower confidence in our personal capacity and creativity. Learn to be vulnerable and experience others’ openness.

How:
Hand out  one card pp during a break and ask people to swap until they have their favourite. Back in the group ask who is ultimately happy with their card. Usually, a few are, but most are not. It’s an analogy to life. You cultivate talents and skills, but more often than not lose them to market demands. By retrieving our superpowers we can adjust our path as we go, contributing our best to the world.

Played at: University of Technology Sydney, SW/TCH Festival Sydney, re:publica Berlin, This is Not Art Newcastle, Parsons New School of Design NYC, OUI Share Paris

This is Not Art

In October we were inScreenshot 2015-10-25 08.40.40vited to Newcastle to run a two-part game called Be.Poietic.Punks. Our plan was to explore intuitive and associative ways of collaboration. Claire Marshall and I weren’t sure if we could make it to Newcastle that day, so we asked the incredible Maree Lowes if she’d be interested running the show on the day.

Maree had never heard anything about the game and, man, she’s the coolest; just dived in and excelled! To prepare, she ran a game test with friends and revelled in collective joy.

When the actual game day came, she facilitated the game smoothly. I did make it to Newcastle just in time to play and be a participant. It was glorious. The group sparked brightly. Thinking, building, crafting, drawing. The design question was: 2015-10-04 14.04.18“How can we create a city without cars?”

The group was divided into 3 groups: the Future, the storytellers and the designers. Each of the groups worked by themselves but would feed their ideas into the other groups at certain stages throughout the game. So the Future determined that due to rising sea levels the city’s streets will be permanently under water. The designers took on the challenge and came up with a system consisting of floating community hubs, hydroponics, and peddle powered hover crafts. The storytellers developed a wonderful narrative arc that played out across time: There was a scientist in the past – Brett Better -, who has developed the beginnings of a (hovercraft) technology that would run on solar power. He never got it to work, though and was, unfortunately, assassinated by the government, because the technology threatened the wealth of corporations. When the flood hit, the people didn’t know how to organise themselves, because they had no transport and no communication technology. Then – the long lost daughter of our hero Brett Better – Lore Better – appears. She had never really fitted in with the community before, being more interested in drumming and tinkering. But she was pissed off that there was no more transport to get her drums to places, so she teamed up and shared her wisdom. 2015-10-05 21.47.35Turned out that she had completed her father’s invention and they instantly started building it. Also, she had huge influence on how the community started communicating, because she knew the art of jamming. As a musician she knew how to feel others, pick up on cues and respond in a harmonious way. So, while everything seemed to be dire, the people started having a fabulous time, bringing themselves into play.

For day two, we had planned a lose walk-in experience, where we displayed the story and some keywords from day one and gave people post-it notes to draw their associations and place them randomly on a “red carpet”. The whole would assemble as a non-linear visual narrative. A bit like an exquisite corpse meets affinity mapping.

My favourite part was the music. We had asked three musicians to jam to whatever input they’d get from the participants. How’s that for serendipity!? Having an actual jam on day 2 was planned long before drummer Lore Better appeared in the story … !! …

2015-10-04 14.18.33Back in the room, every now and then someone would get up and show the band a drawing. There was hardly any speaking for about 1.5h. All that happened was drawing, placing, showing, jamming, reordering, contemplating. The musicians influenced the mood in the room – and the nature of the drawings – with their pace and rhythm. And the creative expression of the drawings they played altered their rhythm and pace. They had never jammed together and their play was spirited! We danced and I felt many people bonded, stayed longer, and just enjoyed the serene and playful atmosphere everyone created.

So what…
Our non-linear story didn’t really go anywhere apart from us enjoying the various interpretations of it. And our solution will not be developed or implemented by any of us. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that by creating something together we teach each other what we really care about. And that we are the ones that can and should be the change we want to see. And we tested what happens when we create intuitively and associatively. I believe there is a lot of important knowledge in our bodies that we forget to access, because we put so much emphasis on our minds. So we’re playing with empathetic ways of learning and working together.

Screenshot 2015-10-25 08.44.11Lastly, a word on the festival where all this took place: Critical Animals is a creative research symposium held annually as a part of This Is Not Art festival in Newcastle, Australia. It’s a forum for students, researchers, writers, artists, thinkers and curious individuals who are critically engaged with creative and experimental art practices. It’s an opportunity to present papers and ongoing research, as well as to challenge creative practices and work collaboratively with others in the field.

Dr Divine

At this year’s Burning Seed Festival in the Australian bush I played my alter ego Dr Divine. I can’t really say any of this was planned, but it’s a perfect example how some things just emerge bit by bit and they come together in a much more coherent way than I could have ever thought up.

2015-09-15 13.51.54-1Meet my belly box. We found all materials at the Bower in Marrickville, a junk yard, reverse garbage type of shop. The best place to find odd little things. And we were so lucky! Found the suitcase, a children’s harness that I could easily fit and attach, a small drawer that fitted perfectly into the side, a candle holder, and all kinds of small items and curiosities that gave me first ideas for a love charm and some other games. Then I added velvet curtains behind which I hid some special tools and the magic book.

On the left I put a wooden tray, which turned out to be a sweet bowling lane for my story dice. Next to it fitted a colourful chest that was just big enough to hold a stack of superhero cards that I had made for another occasion. Then I added some random objects that I’d just embue with meaning if someone would point them out. Five dark jars have incense, ear plugs, condoms, which I handed out when someone wanted to shut themselves off to the messages of life (ear plugs), or pay it safe (condoms). In the drawer on the right were oracle cards. It’s an animal totem deck. All of these things I had at home, they just fitted the belly box perfectly. At this point I didn’t really know what exactly all of this would be, so I kind of surprised myself with what happened next (blatant upworthy cliffhanger).

2015-09-19 14.16.27 I asked the first girl who came up to me if she had anything in her life she wanted a comment on. She did, so I asked her to think on it while I took both her hands. I locked eyes with her, and asked for her name. Then I introduced myself as Dr Divine. I almost laughed. I had not thought of a name before, but it was perfect. I continued with her saying that I didn’t know anything that she didn’t know herself, but that this suitcase held tools that can help her see. I was astounded by what came out of my mouth.
Sweet. I got into my role.

I offered her to ask me about any object in the suitcase. And I told her about the three main attractions: dice, superhero cards, and  the oracle. She wanted the oracle. I shuffled, and told her to bring her attention to her heart. From the deck she drew blindly. The card was Antilope. The Antilope stands for action. I read out a few lines from the animal magic book and she started crying. Damn. I didn’t expect to make people cry?! What? I dropped out of my role and turned to her, asking if I should stop. She was half joy, half suffering. She smiled and cried some more and asked me to continue. That moment was amazing. The card had just struck something in her, and she said it was spot on, the thing that her family needed to understand to solve a situation. I felt floaty. How nice was that!?

2015-10-02 17.23.11Meanwhile a small crowd had gathered around me and I started feeling self-conscious, but, … wow, did I enjoy this. There was something profound taking hold of us. When I took my guests’ hands and we locked eyes we made a contract. It was significant. For the time of our interaction, we were in a magic circle, a safe zone, in which it was just us, and the belief that something wonderful would happen. I could see it in their eyes.

I had about 15 interactions that night and I remember all of their faces. One German guy chose the storytelling dice. He rolled them and got three images he couldn’t really connect. I got a bit nervous, because I hadn’t really thought this through, but then collective consciousness switched on and gave me me the right questions that prompted all these profound insights in him. The story became the thing that he had asked about but also reflected his attitude towards life in general. The details of the symbols made him connect dots he hadn’t connected before. He probably stayed with me the longest. He just didn’t want to leave again. We ended up sharing details about our PhDs and how both tapped into intuition as a neglected source of life making.

While I was playing with my guests I noticed that most women chose the oracle while men chose dice or superhero cards. The superhero skills were pretty popular with anyone and I gave one to each guest at farewell even if they had chosen another game to play. With each explanation of the suitcase I got clearer that the dice were a game of chance, the superhero cards were banking on your skills, and the oracle was about faith. Chance, skills and faith. Ha. Three major way in which we as humans try to get a hold of our future. What a colossal insight. And none of this was planned. It really just emerged little by little by just starting with a vague idea and chipping away on it whenever it felt right. That’s a good way to work and bring meaning and joy into our lives. I like it.

The Tech Pentagram

This workshop explores and excavates the landscape of where technological innovation meets established industries such as media, manufacturing, energy and health. It’s a living, thinking event that uses game mechanics and future scenario design to unleash the imagination of its participants while teaching how to integrate concepts in relation to the systems they span.

2015-09-14 12.17.48Group size: 40 – 200 pax
Playtime: 1h

What:
Combined with a futurist talk by Future Crunch, this workshop is designed to remix the use of different technologies. It gives participants a visceral experience of just how quickly small teams of people can come up with world-changing ideas.

How:
We begin by giving a broad overview of the technological intersections and their potential impacts on a specific sector. Then the true fun and creativity starts! Up to 200 people from mixed sectors prototype some potential agents for change. In groups of 2 we dive into a technology of your choice. In groups of 4 we prioritise relevance of different aspects you discussed. In groups of 8 we begin integrating different technologies in order to come up with radical new possibilities. Throughout the workshop – like by magic – you will create a geometric shape containing the peaks of your thinking. Expect spontaneity, bouncing messengers, human knots, inspiration, and mind expanding ideas.

urban game: enter the tengu

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 5.57.50 PM

Enter the Tengu is an urban game, a digital scavenger hunt that uses technology and other objects to lead two players from a mysterious starting point to a locked treasure box at the end of the journey.

Tengu are a class of supernatural creatures. Long held as demons and harbingers of war, their image softened into one of protective, if still mischievous, spirits of the mountain forests. Tengu have been called arrogant, mischievous, self-centered and dangerous; their appearance being a bizarre combination of human and bird with fearsome eyes shining with the mischief. They enjoy spreading chaos and confusion among humans, punishing the vain, kidnapping the foolish and playing on the weak.

However, the Tengu’s way – as resentful as it seems – bears an important lesson. They serve as mentors to humans they find worthy. They remind us that we should be free to do what we want, be playful and take ourselves and out surrounding not too seriously.

This game was designed by myself and Claire Marshall as a surprise for Jordan Bryon for her 30th birthday. It began White Rabbit Gallery in Sydney – and lead the participants through the back streets of Chippendale to visit unusual locations, meet interesting people and encourage their inner Tengu to break free.

[click image to download walkthrough.]

Enter the Tengu

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 5.57.50 PMEnter the Tengu is an urban game, a digital scavenger hunt that uses technology and other objects to lead two players from a mysterious starting point to a locked treasure box at the end of the journey.

Tengu are a class of supernatural creatures. Long held as demons and harbingers of war, their image softened into one of protective, if still mischievous, spirits of the mountain forests. Tengu have been called arrogant, mischievous, self-centered and dangerous; their appearance being a bizarre combination of human and bird with fearsome eyes shining with the mischief. They enjoy spreading chaos and confusion among humans, punishing the vain, kidnapping the foolish and playing on the weak.

However, the Tengu’s way – as resentful as it seems – bears an important lesson. They serve as mentors to humans they find worthy. They remind us that we should be free to do what we want, be playful and take ourselves and out surrounding not too seriously.

This game was designed by myself and Claire Marshall as a surprise for Jordan Bryon for her 30th birthday. It began White Rabbit Gallery in Sydney – and lead the participants through the back streets of Chippendale to visit unusual locations, meet interesting people and encourage their inner Tengu to break free.

Download prototype: Tengu_130222_Case Study