My collaborator is Wyatt Kildow. He’s a musician and audio recording engineer. Currently, he’s composes what I call (he doesn’t know I refer to it this way, but it’s how I think of it) electronic sonic gumbo.
So I’d been thinking about “storydwelling” and interactive applications for a long time since I entered the Internet industry in 1994, in general. So it’s been an evolution. And I noticed working with some younger kids in a literacy program in Chicago that, well, honestly they’d rather play a video game than read a book, or listen to a “storytelling” hour.
So, I was intrigued with something Kathy Sierra said once, “We don’t need games for education… we need for education to as engaging as a game. Attributes of a good game applied to non-game things. Virtually any topic we don’t yet know already HAS game elements: puzzles, challenges, thrill of discovery, mystery, novelty, surprise.”
And if you’ve read Neal Stephenson’s book “The Diamond Age: or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer” I kind of always wanted to see something like Nell’s primer come to life. If you haven’t read the book, well, it’d be hard to explain it — until you had one, and then it’s the most natural thing in the world.
Tell us about the creation of a portable media lab. What would that entail? It would include the minimum to write and test a social game, like FourSquare, or an alternate reality game, like World Without Oil, or an urban game, like Hubbub’s Koppelkiek project, or a multimedia interactive graphic “novel” for one of the latest e-readers. This way the school or library that doesn’t have a Mac or have Digidesign Pro Tools or Adobe Photoshop or an iPad doesn’t have to worry — we’ll tout it around with us.
However, if you add up the years, that means five years without a monetary income and it’s basically, exhausted– so, I’ve applied for the grant to help us do this as a full-time project. Once the year is out, we’ll have enough momentum to be able to generate sustainable revenue on its own (people will buy e-books on Amazon, iPhone apps, and virtual goods in Facebook, for instance). In the field of work where I came from, it’s 24/7 so there isn’t really such a thing as “free time” so I knew that to really get this off the ground, it’d need to be a full-time endeavor at least for myself. And ideally, at least 1-2 other full-time folks.
Two things.1) Vote for the Pepsi Refresh grant at http://www.refresheverything.
A sample (use your own imagination, and why you care) Facebook status or note to your friends via email might be:
Why not have wee bit of unused SuperBowl ad money go to the Superbowl winning city?
List of Louisiana community grants that need your vote! http://bit.ly/hopenola
2) If we don’t win this round, we’ll apply again for fall (coinciding with fall semester). We’ll apply for other grants. We’ll see about developing a game that would generate revenue such as Farmville does or iPhone games do so that it funds itself. We’ll keep spreading the word. We can do short workshops after-school that don’t require a lot of multimedia resources.
We are creating a Wiki to collate a curriculum that ultimately will be accessible to anyone online to learn on their own (however, probably slanted for instructors) and long-term plans that will be open to all interested parties to participate in, so it’s a matter of how engaged anyone wishes to be.
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Actually that’s part of the process. We don’t know what the game will be that the kids want to design as a team, yet. We’ll facilitate identifying individual and collective burning issues, first. We want to follow the interests and passions of the children, and work with that.
We’ll teach the interactive concepts, but as far as what the game does, it solicits the boldest pent-up dreams and widest imaginations to be engaged and expressed so that solutions organically form and are tested out in a supportive sanctuary and via person-to-person networks.
Since it will be based on urban games and alternate reality games, there will most likely be online challenges (which always intersect the real world), each child shares their own narrative (could be in form of role-playing their future self or an alter-ego), writing to other playpals in the community, creating trading cards or virtual goods, stashing clues in the urban environment and many unforeseen elements that the kids and the engaged community itself will conjure up and implement.
Personally, I’m interested in taking what often seems like problem-solving and the drudgery of everyday survival to the level of a heroic and magical quest. I didn’t know that Jane called them “epic wins” but bringing that kind of spirit into our everyday life and connecting that energy to the broader community.
As Barbara Sher says in her bestselling classic, “Wishcraft”, many people are stymied in their pursuit of their dreams by their feelings of isolation.
So, the end goal is to help people achieve their own aspirations individually, as well as collectively. The game’s prize is the journey of this collaboration and engaging in a life enhancing process.
Actually, if someone has an educational and/or arts and culture — these are two of the six categories for the Pepsi Refresh grant process http://www.refresheverything.
Perhaps we can hold an unconference at LaunchpadNOLA or somewhere to collaborate on ideas for how we could team up to all win these grants. If you look into the details, you’ll see it is a rolling process every month throughout this year.
As a former marketer (again, mostly in technology companies) I’ve spoken before on Superbowl ads and how they tie into social media campaigns, so I was really intrigued when I found out that Pepsi had decided that a 30-second spot was simply too much of a one-shot deal and they were looking for something that would have a more lasting connection. And then it clicked that this could be the way I could fund this game dream I’ve had.
The biggest challenge we have is educating the public. When you say “game” these days, everyone’s minds automatically focuses to video games. And then next, often, a comment such as: “Oh, my son spends enough hours escaping into video games — he doesn’t need more games.”
Last evening, at a large and influencial conference called TED, Jane McGonigal (she is @avantgame on Twitter) spoke. Basically, in 2007, I facilitated a session at BarCampBlock, http://barcamp.org/
If I remember correctly, I was feeling some exasperated with books — and I’m pretty much someone that grew up locked away in my bedroom reading Alice in Wonderland or Nancy Drew. Then, as a twelve-year-old reading The Grapes of Wrath.