October 19, 2007
I just gave a presentation today at The CineKid Festival, an annual Film, Television and New Media Festival for Children that is held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (with approximately 30 satellite festivals held in cities all over the Netherlands).
The New media programme consisted of the great Cinekid Media Lab (which had both art installations as well as popular software and hardware such as Wiis), and seminars.
Our all-afternoon seminar, “New Media: Make way for play” featured
Ronald Mannak (V-beat, The Netherlands) who showed a new Dutch product series of air guitars and air drum systems that can either be hooked up to your pc or mac or played alone; Ed Burton (head of research and development @ soda, UK ) who showed the range of Soda Play environments such as the Sode Constructor, NewToon, and the awesome Moovl) and Jana Riedel (project manager TRUST project @ SMARTlab, UK), a project which creates a virtual world and haptic chair interfaces for disabled children. David Kleeman (USA), the President of the American Centre for Children and Media, moderated.
Some of the themes that came up among the panelists were the role of user generated content and the ability for designers to capitalize on what kids are already doing in order to design learning experiences. Questions about gender and gaming arose as well, as Ed Burton said he’s been called a maker of “boy’s toys” while much of my work is significantly leaning towards “girl’s toys.” I tried to refocus this polarity-producing conversation using the terminology of values, as we are actively doing in Values at Play. I argued that the “values approach” accomplishes several things: 1) a focus on values in the design phase may end the endless argument about “proving” gendered play styles; 2) a focus on values in the design phase may help teams — who may not feel “authorised” or experienced enough to design for girls — approach the task a bit differently (a design for “creativity” or “competition and cooperation” may also avoid terrible stereotypes we see in some games seemingly targeted at girls) ; and 3) a focus on values in the design phase might help protect girls from “gamer harrassment”. A recent study by Taylor, Jenson, and de Castell, “Gender in Play: Mapping a Girls’ Gaming Club,” (DIGRA 2007) detailed how girls’ interactions with games in the presence of boys shifted significantly, and how vocal male groups were towards female groups about their game choices and playing abilities. Worth a read!
A highlight of my Dutch experience was to enjoy Kinderei, or Kinder Surprise , with everyone– and play with the toys enclosed. I got a kaleidoscope!