Gamescom’16: Games of the future

Summ()n is not a game design agency per se, but the topics of games and play (and many collaterals, such as ‘serous games’ and gamification) are very central to what  we do. At the end, we suggest that the only way to deal with the futures is to play with them!

Gamescom, the annual exhibition/ trade fair of games in Cologne, one of the largest events of this kind in the world, is thus an obvious attractor for us. We were visiting this expo almost every year when Summ()n existed (missing only 2010, if I remember). The event always serves a source of information about the latest developments and trends, a source of new inspirations for our own games, and o course simply a source of fun 🙂

This year we went to Gamescom again, but didn’t manage to write about it here in our blog, being very busy with preparations of our Future Probing sessions here in Eindhoven. Perhaps, a bit retroactively, but I would like to share some of the impression from this event:

Continue reading

Future Shapes of Technology

Do you want to know the future shape of technology? Then, perhaps, you need to talk to the same name foundation, STT, or Stichting Toekomstbeeld der Techniek, based in the Hague. The whole purpose of the STT is to ‘explore new trends and develop inspiring foresights on technology and society. For that purpose STT facilitates a free space in which enthusiastic stakeholders meet and construct creative views on the future’.

Sounds great, and it is a great regret that I didn’t know about them until very recently. But better later than never, and now we met and talked, and shared experiences and approaches. I am most interested in two projects our of three STT currently runs (I am actually also interested in the third, The Future of Technology in Africa, but can’t imaging seriously contributing in it.)

The other two are the Future of Serious Games and the Future of Decision Making (especially in view of the emerging Wisdom of the Crowd approach).

We had a very interesting conversation with Jacco van Uden, leader of the Serious Games foresight, I felt a lot of synergy between what we do at Summ()n, when we use our ‘playing the futures’ approach, with how they practice future studies in general, and serious games in particular. There is a lot of very interesting information on their site, earlier reports, white papers, links and sources; a web place really worth visiting.

Surprisingly to myself, I didn’t take the pictures of the institution (somewhat ironically, it is located in a very old building, not necessarily evoking associations with the ‘future’; but nice one). So, these are the pictures I took later, while walking to my next meeting. It’s actually amazing how densely our urban environments are covered with the traces of someone’s else ‘games’. It’s just a matter of perception to see them (and may be a matter of courage and curiosity to join.)

Presentations from the Creative Industries track at the WCIT

Tom Chatfield, from the UK magazine Prospect talked about games, and how they ‘create value’ (Innovation engines: How electronic games generate value). It was interesting that in the context of this congress he immediately distance his talk from now popular genre of ‘serious games’; now was he talking about a video games industry in terms of the sold boxes and gained revenue. His talk was more focussed on a very different developments that emerge now thanks to the video games, and around them.

I like his example of the Guitar Hero, the game that was creatively abused (in Scotland if I remember) and became a platform for activist movement in the area of school education. Somewhat similar is the machinema industry, that uses games as a vehicles for content production and often distribution too (WoW is great example of that, up to and including The Guild phenomenon; but Tom very skillfully never mentioned WoW, valid but a bit overused by now an example).

Tom Steinberg, from MySociety presented a few cases of how modern digital solutions can impact political activism, and the very politics and governmental activities themselves. We all now how impactful can be Twitters,Faceboos, and YouTubes these days. Tom, however, thinks that it is again, rather a creative abuse of these tools, initially created for different purposes (social communication). According to Tom, this is all good, but to be really efficient, political activism should be equipped with more specialized tools, focussed applications that are in synch with information flows and decision-making practice.

One of his examples was FixMyStreet that not only allows for people to “report, view, or discuss local problems”, but automatically channel their complains (or compliments) to the right public bodies.

Adam Greenfield talked about connected cities: Reading the city, writing the city: Urban experience in a networked age. I listened to this story of him lat year, during the MindTrek, and many of the slides can be found in my set on Flickr, MindTrek’09. This time he added new dimensions to the plot (very much further toward the new re-writable city), and new examples too; I hope to find his presentation somewhere on the web, at some point.

Finally, Anab Jain, from Superflux. I spotted the agency earlier this year, via publication in the Wired magazine, but as we later discovered with Anab, we actually met first, albeit shortly, during the last year Lift’09 conference in Geneva. Anyway, this time it was again an excellent presentation, you can see all the slides on their blog: Designing for India’s Immaterial Urbanism. You could also see a short movie about one of the presented project, Yellow Chair Stories