September 15, 2006

The Virtual

by Mary Flanagan · , 11:19 am

Hi, I’m @ The Virtual 2006 on Rosenön, an island in the archipelago of Haninge, south of Stockholm. Lisbeth Klastrup and I just ran a workshop called “Using the Critical Play Framework: Values in Experience Design” at the conference. The material emerged from my most recent collaborative project concerning values and game design, just funded in the Science of Design program at NSF (hurray!). Most of the conference is focused on developing user experiences; our workshop task was for teams to design a game to get off the island; for the design stage, we assigned the four teams to do their game design with particular human values in mind.

Values in the games proposed varied widely, from sustainability, empathy, sharing, tolerance, and nonviolence; one included hunting for an evil character’s past through childhood tokens, to promote forgiveness and empathy; another involved enlisting the help of ghosts and ‘näcken’ (a handsome, nude male water spirit who appears and plays the violin; he makes passages under the water at the 23rd hour, taking others with him, and some designers thought he could help could abscond with folks from the island …). One group proposed a “Schroom” game, where resource management and sustainability was the theme (there are many many kinds of mushrooms growing here on the “rose island”).


There are about 40 of us here on the island. Right now, I’m attending a talk which presents a study on what boys do/how boys play when playing The Sims. Tomorrow, I will be giving a keynote lecture called “Artists as Experience Designers.” Abstracts are here, and a publication of papers will be put out by the new M3 press. Ian Bogost had planned to attend and speak, but could not in the end. We miss you, Ian! Next, I’ll be speaking at the Nordic Game Conference in Malmö!