‘…examine what function game design as a discipline can have for society.’
I am a game designer. Game design, rulesets in particular, is a powerful tool in evoking behavioural change. I use game design in my work to introduce an alternate behavioural pattern, a way of behaving that frees you from the known patterns we daily choose to follow. Most of my work is in public space. The public is space is free space, space were you can virtually do whatever you want, within the boundaries of the law. Despite it’s freedom public space is where we tend to use the most conditioned behaviour, avoiding eye contact, trying to avoid each others personal space, basically pretending we’re the only one walking there. We use the public space as a highway to get from A to B, we’ve grown out of touch of the social and recreational use of public space. As we slip deeper and deeper into our patterned, conditioned behaviour we lose touch with the society around us.
I see my role in re-seizing public space for the sake of (social) interaction. I want my work the open people’s eyes in seeing what a beautiful place we are living in and what interesting people we are sharing it with. As stated, I believe game design can have a role in this, as game design consists of rulesets. By adding, or removing, a certain rule from public space you can let people choose to behave differently. Since they are used to acting according to the rules in public space, when these rules change, they will act in a different way. This is my fascination and the subject I’ve been exploring for the past 1,5 years. An example of a simple experiment I’ve done: Draw a finish line on a bike path and cheer at anyone approaching. The results are huge: A housemother cheering at the top of her voice, pumping her fist in the air, a man stopping a block away to assess the situation, maybe check if it’s safe to continue, and, more astonishing, a woman channeling all her energy to ignore the situation entirely. Why do we have this urge to seclude ourselves from the external world? What better do we get on our own? I believe we are in an age of convergence, as opposed to the submergence of past centuries. Reading the trends of social media like facebook and foursquare there seems to be an urge to gather, to communicate, to acknowledge ourselves by acknowledging who we are, together. I think this is a positive movement in society and I hope to facilitate this in my work.
The term I like to use is playfulness. The vigour, strength in action, that children posses by nature. An explorative, joyful way of interacting with the world around you. I want my work to evoke this playfulness, to unleash the playful pleasures we have been taught to supress. Everyone has experienced parents snaring at their children: Don’t run here, don’t touch that, be quiet. If a piece of my work makes someone run, scream and touch dirty stuff, then I’ve done something right.
The past 1,5 years most of my work has been devoted to playfulness in public space. Each individual project exploring a different case or a different branch. I keep returning to my main question: ‘How can I get people in public space to engage in playfulness?’ This question has been a main cultrip in most of my work, it’s the biggest challenge I face. How can I get int touch with people on the street without having them (socially) freeze up and ignore all attempts for interaction. How can I engage in mutual trust with a stranger on the street?
These and more are questions to which the answer I can only guess. I’ve searched for answers by experimenting, doing projects in public space, but I have yet to find a definitive answer, I’m starting to believe there is no definitive answer, only sub answers. These questions I would like to further explore within the Master of Arts. I want to search in my field of practice for projects and artists that try to communicate on the same level as I want to, as of yet I have found these are quite hard to find. In that sense it feels very much as though I’m pioneering a new branch of performing arts. I would like to find my fellow pioneers and communicate with them. Share my ideas and compare them to others, what can we learn from each other? I would like to collect this material and make a video documentary. This way I can make an accessible beacon in this new field and clear the way for future playfulness designers.
I have scratched the surface on sources from the scientific world, mainly on (group) psychology and anthropology. I was brought to the attention of the Field and Habitus Theory of Pierre Bourdieu, an anthropologist. Although the (scientific) theory I indulged in was interesting and informative, I found it hard to apply it to my practice. I want to fill this gap between theory and practice, give my expertise some body, with organs functioning individually to create a fully functioning body. together.
In January, me and six others, started a cultural breeding place in Amsterdam Zuid-Oost, called Wijk 7. It is a live and work communal house, so we aim to do most of our practice within the walls of our house. We want to be a beacon in this neighbourhood, a cultural beacon, for Art and Culture is something lacking in the up and coming neighboorhood. For me it is a great opportunity to get involved in communal living and working. Finding ways to collaborate, combining powers to create something beautiful. I find that in collaborative working, the sum is greater than the parts together. When people use their expertise and energy to create something together, you can reach heights that you could never reach if you were alone, in production value as well as creative insight. In my career till now, collaboration has learned me a few of the most important lessons. When working in collaboration you bounce of each other, you are forced to articulate your ideas. Especially when working with different disciplines this becomes apparent. You need to truly understand your own ideas to be able to share them with other disciplines. For me this gave me self-recognition, new lived energy to further develop the idea that just started rolling again…