Oct 19

Playful: Siobhan Reddy and Making New Things

Makes console games for a living. Talking about making new things. The trials and tribulations. Why do we make new things? How do we choose what we like and where does that come from. Our taste develops though life. Things that were big when younger may not be stuff you like now. But they helped form you. We make games because we get inspired, we want people to experience what we have made and be touched them. Every game made by someone who has set out a creative goal at some point.

At Molecule, we make creative games. That is our mission. But where did it come from. Not a focus test; not from predicting trends. It came from the people and their likes and needs. Little Big Planet, made because when younger the designer made things – he wanted to create things where people can create. When you make something from that personal place you can make something that can have a lot more impact, be unique. We make things because we have to.

Last year, we moved away from LBP, and started to make a new game with a second team. Called Tearaway. It’s a delivery adventure through a papercraft world. It encourages you to interact. And can build in the real world too. (Due out next year)

Learnt 3 things on the journey. When doing something new need to have personality and conviction. The project was not financially driven. It was creative. It was a personal thing to let one of the team create own world. There were many rabbit holes in the development. Took wrong turns. Too big, or did not work well etc. Started off with ideas they loved. Added to them, kept adding. Lost way slightly and therefore lost some confidence. They could have listened to lots of advice and different opinions. But they decided to strip back all of the noise, take it back to the original stuff that got them excited. They focused on the pure game design. It sounds simple, but it is so easy to get pushed off path and go down the safe route.

Second was about Finding the Jam. This was about how they behaved. In early stages, a development team acts like a band. They jam together. Tey need everyone to bring their passion and skills and share with everyone. You need to create an environment where that can happen. You need the right people – and remove the wrong ones. Bands having tension and this can be positive. Try not to freak out when there is tension, that is normal. They had all worked together, but it was a new structure with a different goal. YOu need to make sure that people are not attacked, but flipside to tension is creativity. Hardest moments as team were the moments before we stripped down the design. We now still argue, but it’s working through problems etc. Now it is all happening. Finding the jam was a journey.

Third was the Beautiful Abyss. she loves jumping into the creative abyss, starting something new. You need curiosity and excitement to do it, as you never know if it will work it or not. You need to have faith and believe what is being created will be great. There will people and companies who don’t take risks, how can you be the one who takes the risks. You need to back talented and creative people and find ways to let their creativity and personalities shine through. Main learning…We Just Have To! Don’t be afraid of audiences, of trying things.

Oct 19

Playful: Hannah Donovan and Digital Craft

Hannah Donovan ‘This is not my Jam’ Digital Craft.

Has always liked rabbits. Many, many family photos of her dressed as a rabbit when growing up. Did not play computer games. Family had a ‘no-violence’ policy. Which of course meant little TV, or comics. Also no ‘formulaic’ stuff. So no colouring books, or teen novels. But when she was told she could not have something, then she wanted it more. Also, she had to amuse herself more, so did a lot of ‘arts and crafts’.Making things, painting etc. Put on shows. Also making videos, editing etc. The crafting slowly moved into design areas.

All play means something, so the play you have as a child impacts the rest of your lives. Talking about craft, it’s old, traditional. A craft often declares your participation in a tribe or group; or about expressing yourself. A craft is often defined as handmade, and even more so after the industrial revolution. Crafting reflects the culture of people and place. But how does craft and music fit in. At last.fm and This Is My Jame, think a lot about music. Music and visuals go hand and hand. Music is as visual as you make it and it would be a lot less fun without imagery. Without the costume and images, how can you tell who you are. There is a lot of crafting around music. It is a dialogue, it gets to the fans and is reflected back at the band. You can’t buy it, it is handmade by you.

Thinks music and craft online started getting interesting in 2006. With MySpace. When craft moved from bedroom walls to the profile page. You could craft within a design. But it also allowed you to design, making something unique, very different. It was not just a place where people came famous for music, but where new aesthetics arose, new stuff started to exist. The framework of MySpace was loose enough that could be played with, craft it. Most services now only really let you customise – upload stuff into their planned design. MySpace may not the best model for a service, but it did teach us stuff, there is a space in between fixed layouts and blank space. You can play in the middle, craft things.

To define digital craft a bit more. It is still handmade, but not necessarily one of a kind. As soon as you have made something, then easy for someone to make something similar. The scale online is bigger and the trends happen faster. The call and response is quick. There is collaboration and reworking. Adding something to existing images is more fun then just using the original. You are crafting around it. Look at Tumblr. There is space for Craft on here, but a little too instantaneous about the reblog button. Who did it? Same with about.me/flavours.me. Focuses on customisation, about how easy it is. Not too much scope for craft, for originality. Canvas encourages play and changing things. The New Hive allows everything on it. Is it too retro? Instagram is where she sees most of the digital craft happens. You can just use the filters, but if you want to do a little more,if you use other apps to add more to photos. You can play from easy to more effort.

So what does craft and music look like? It mainly looks like Facebook Cover images are used to show what people like. THere is an appetite for people to express themselves in that area. Her research shows people want to do more with that space. Animation and video. With THis is My Jam, wanted to provide more of an experience. Want to ensure people can change their musical identity as often as they want, change the pages easily. Not fully found the answer, but getting there.

Physical and digital craft are colliding. Soon there will not be digital craft…the scope is bigger, they are bringing together. Crafting has to be part of our culture, stuff that we do. We know there is opportunity that lurks in the craft cupboard. Some people don’t even know that is there, they have not had an opportunity to play in the space, it can be a gateway to a new life. You need to let serendipity into what you make, make space for craft – so give a little more space in the services you are building and designing.

Oct 19

Playful: Anab Jain and Faerie Stories

Liveblogged! Mistakes and errors possible

Anab Jain. Superflux Faerie Stories for the 21st Century

Superflux looks at humanising technology. Her background, in India, where there was little TV, no game consoles. The play world were the stories, comic books. Is going to take a look at how fairie stories allow us to make sense of the world around us. From Tolkien, faerie stories are about the worlds in which faeries exist. They are about fantasy, which is about imagination. They allow the reader to view their own worlds from a different perspective.

When we grow up, we leave these fantast worlds behind. We start to package things. Nature or culture or technology. But things get mixed and churned. (Anna showed lots of tweets, where tech stories, robots, asteroid mining etc get mentioned) They are all about how the modern world is miraculous but we fail to recognise it. (showed video about how people complain about airlines…not amazement at flying)

Adults normalise the fantastic. That’s how you can be successful. fantasy gives psycholgical freedom – Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 all restricted thoughts. The Chinese Gov has banned a fictional programme about time travel – they had the wrong imaginative effect on population.

How can we effective bring the wondert back. What would it look like to ‘weaoponise’ playful engagement? Superflux got people to imaging the future, imagination to think about problems. How about robot bees to pollinate crops. Upper Toronto is another project, looking at building a new city above the city…it allows people to have conversations about what kind of city they would like to live in if they start afresh.

The Golden Institure; Artic Trader are all ways of looking at alternate business and political worlds. Eneropa, think about a low-carbon Europe in 2050. Where do they get energy from? Sea, wind or sun. Thinking about fantasy worlds is a way of engaging with issues of the times. Eg Postcards of the Future. Looking at the cities after sea levels rise. Anna ran through more projects that think about the future. FoundFutures. Hypothetical Museums. Farmland World.

The projects explore many aspects of the faerie, the marvelous and miraculous. They help us engage with the present from different perpectives.

Oct 19

Playful: Mark Sorrell Hide and Seek

LIVEBOGGED from Playfull. Potential mistakes and errors!

Mark is the Development Director at Hide and Seek. Will be talking about Computer Games NOT Video Games. Really about Computer Mediated Games. Take a look at a game called B.U.T.T.O.N You are given a task by the computer, a task in the real world. Then you press the button. So the first person to press the button wins. The game is doing it..not watching a screen. How about ‘slow button’ Long term tasks, eg learn French.

The same company (Die Gute Fabrik) went on to make Joust. You use PS Move controllers, connected to computers. You move your controller at the same tempo as the Bach music. You can do whatever you like to stop people winning, to stop their controllers. There are no rules aside from that. It is a great way to see who has survival skills – what will you do for winning! And Joust has been turned into Ludwig Van Beatdown – a video game. There are lots of games like this; using computers to mediate a real world game. Moneky See, Monkey Mime; Aaaargh; Flot; Idiots attack the top noodle. So computer games with no graphics.

Hide and Seek produced Searchlight. Uses Kinect and projector. Move blocks to your side. When in the searchlight, you cannot move. THe computer knows (via Kinect) if moved. So a computer mediated game. When you make a game, you only make a selection of rules. Games don’t exist without players. They are just things we hold in your heads. So why do we make games when you don’t look at the player but at the screen. Joust you can learn to play by watching people. It is the same in the playground – that’s how you learn to play. These are games for audiences. For people watching.

Looking at Games for Events. So great if you run events. But they don’t only exist at events. Look at Frobisher Says. It’s on PSVita and uses all the control elements of that console. So AR; touch screens etc. How about SIngStar. Definitely computer mediated play. Has a brilliant business model – has an in-app putchasing technique on drink people; those singing the karaoke. Lots of the Wii games are in the room. But still a fair amount of screen staring. The developers did not do a good job of putting the game in the room.

The consoles are high cost. The games are hi cost. The smartphone is high cost – but does cheaper games. Sometome soon there will be a mass market device in every house that plays games – and computer mediated games. Moves the game into the room. THis is a new way. Those games will have audiences. What happens to people who are watching the game. How do you make games people don’t have to learn how to play. All the peole making computer mediated games now are learning these skills.

Oct 04

SMWLDN: Social approach to engaging current and prospective employees

My second session at Social Media Week London was organised by Unilever and took a look at their work in using a social to employee engagement. There were 4 separate sections to this; a look at employee feedback mechanisms, recruitment, graduate recruitment and flexible working. Each was presented by a different set.

A social approach to employee surveys – Michael Silverman

  • Usually, providing feedback is boring. there’s too many numbers, not enough open questions. It’s a corporate black hole – where does the information go?
  • To activate the ‘wisdom of crowds’ – which is sort of what employee feedback is – then 4 conditions need to be met. Diversity. Independence. Decentralisation. Aggregation. Surveys are by their nature anti-social. This Unilever project looked at making feedback social. they used a consultancy called Silverman (run by an ex-Unilever employee)
  • When it comes to social media, with reviews etc, linear lists have problems. There is information overload, there’s high diversity, and ratings are primitive. There are linguistic techniques to extract meaning but this information is more powerful when you add structured data.
  • The projects worked to build models to allow visualisation of opinions and attitudes, mapping users by opinions about how close they were. They allowed users to rate others answers, to allow a consensus to appear. Some of the studies were anonymous, others had identified people.
  • In another project, they looked at organisational network analysis, based on social network analysis. What were the clusters of relationships. Did this inform opinions and attitudes. (they used Socilyzer). This brought together attitudinal and relationship data
  • Finally, the Social Media Garden (pdf) project to crowd-source research into barriers that prevent the organisational adoption of social media
  • The slides from the event

Looking at adoption of social media Natalie Nahai, Web Psycholgist

  • Social media satisfies the human need to connection and communications. Measuring usage can provide a measure of intimacy and influencer of relationships. More many, social media can be a key to self-esteem. In organisations, it can engender a sense of belonging; it can reflect the org culture
  • 56% of youth would refuse to work if access to social media was banned. 24% make access to social media a condition of accepting a job
  • The risks are known – controllability, the need for transparency and accountability, how it can result in power shifts.
  • To get adoption in a organisation, there needs to be a motivation, it needs to be interesting. You need to think about cultural cahnge, about reward and engagement and how it can be intrinsic to the job.
  • The Slides

In general, the quick interlude was all about social tools and happiness/games (eg see this presentation by Jane McGonigal)

Talent Acquisition. Paul Maxin. Global Resourcing Director

  • the recruiting landscape is changing. With social media, everyone is is a recruiter.. There are changes in experience, in services offered.
  • Recruitment in Unilever links back to their business objectives. Double the revenue. Halve the carbon footprint (sustainability). They don’t have a separate digital and strategy to help drive this, it’s all connected.
  • The recruitment process impacts the business. 53% of those with a bad recruitment experience are less inclined to buy good from the organisation. For a company like Unilever, that’s a lot of products that could be impacted. 75% will share their bad experience with friends (and influence them)
  • The recruitment world has moved. from Broadcast to Conversation. From Attract to Nurturing. From Corporate to Human. From Formal to Frictionless. From Careers Site to an Ecosystem.
  • You need to leverage the right channels. They have evolved to an engagement-based approach. They have 260k followers on LinkedIn, 90k on Facebook.
  • Facebook (Unilever Careers)is one page – used for all countries. They use country specific apps (Buddy Media) and have consistent content.
  • Linked In. They are building in specific calls to action, getting employees to activate as well.
  • They use lots and lots of data analysis to improve engagement.
  • The slides

A look at Graduate recruitment Klazien van Vliet

  • There is a lot of competition for Graduates amongst FMCG companies . How do Unilever differentiate?
  • They have big brands, sustainability, global reach. So do their competitors. So Unilever think their differentiator is the people and the work environment. But this is difficult to bring to life in advertising; this is where social media helps.
  • They use glassdoor.com to help this. Glassdoor approached them, with information about all the searches that are being done around Unilever., how it followed patterns looking at them and competitors. They decided to work with glassdoor around branded content, about working in the company. Added testimonials, videos etc. Most important was the reviews around the company.
  • In return, they get lots of data about what people are looking at, how they behave on the site. It’s not a volume driver, but it is a self-assessment tool. It helps people see if they really do want to work with Unilever and acts as a initial screener.
  • The slides

How social media can help with Agile Working – Jacobina Plummer

  • You used to need to be at work in order to do work. Now there is maximum flexibility, minimal constraints. You can work anytime, anywhere.
  • Agile working is critical for Unilever as it enables their global operating framework; supports the sustainability agenda; provides cost savings; helps them a #1 workplace
  • They looked at practices, workplaces and technology, They made sure their focus was on growth rather than cutting costs.
  • To support agile working, they use external Twitter – eg for snow days etc. They use internal Yammer and they have a collaboration space. It allows better collation, faster decision making; work arbitrage and a greater cultural understanding and diversity.
  • The slides

There is a video of the whole event made available from Unilver