Case Study 2

Braunstone Library (Leicester)
New Walk Museum & Art Gallery (Leicester)

Aim

The aim of this case study was to capture the type of COGS behaviour as Generation, Adoption, Discussion activity. To test the meaning of "mixture of reality" in both macro and micro engagement i.e. in-action game play/ creation/ direction, and observation/ generation of ideas.

Method

This series of in-the-wild practical experiments focused on arts & cultural organisations, deliberately leaving the school sector. The evidence was collected using In vivo/ in vitro observations between the research assistant and the practitioner. Discussions and interview with participants, practitioners and stakeholders from these organisations. A focus was on tracking individual participants in order to understand typical trajectories through the flow of play.

Dr Vear offered the practitioners a new way of thinking about the synergy between technology, facilitation and mixed reality. This involved shifting a single element (such as role, background, activity, challenge, rule, aim, question &c.) every 3 minutes or so. Dr Vear had observed that within 3 minutes the participants had reached the extent of their ludic play within a given scenario, and – like a computer game – expected it (or the game design) to shift and challenge them further. This simple re-appraisal in the shift of the role of facilitation towards an 'acceptance' philosophy led by participant engagement, was an attempt to articulate the co-operative relationship between gamer and game, within the here-and-now of digital creative play. At this point, we started to consider Pop Up Play as a conceptualized game, and that each point of participation (micro and macro) were parts of the wholeness of a game. And that our game-makers activities needed to be understood from its defining traits of Aims, Rules, Feedback and Willing Participation (McGonogal).

Critical moments of evidence

We had broken the 3-minutes problem! In fact both workshops had to be brought to a close after 90 minutes of continuous creative play. Furthermore, the freedom of such play released the practitioner and the participants from the constraints of structured, formal play-for-learning:

  • Child H enters the room, he walks around and looks at screen and instantly recognises some parts of the technology, "hey X-Box 360!" he shouts.
  • H says "I want to be underwater!" H takes a few tentative steps forward, he says "it's a distant surfer." He makes forward movements and says "I'm a scuba diver", "a shark." H invites himself further into the play space, kneeling down he moves forward and uses his hands as a shark's mouth.
  • Jayne invites H to narrate a story 'the day in the life of a Monster' as she acts it out in the screen:
    • "Ah I really wish I could go outside but my parents won't let me, I just wanna go home now and go to bed forever, now I want to go on an adventure in the jungle, I meet my best friend, but they turn into stone, then she fainted, the one thing to save her is the dragon scale."

Descriptions included:

  • "You can be in different places without leaving."
  • "There is a tablet, then someone stands there and they can move left and right, but the person with the tablet can also move them around and change their size."
  • "You get eaten by a fish and the person with the tablet makes you so small it looks like you have been eaten by the fish."

Evaluations featured positive aspects of gaming, affirmation of self, and changing perspectives in live play:

  • "I loved it when we got to hide."
  • "I loved it when we were in the maze, the firewall; it made me feel like arghh!"
  • "I like seeing myself – your actual self!"
  • "My favourite bit was when I was the monster because you get to be someone that you have never been before."

Being "in" mixed reality featured strongly as a future desire for the children at The Brite Centre:

  • "You could choose props and things to hide behind, likes trees and forest."
  • "You could go in the flames where the devil lives." "Go to the end of Minecraft."
  • "Go to chess, play chess as a piece."
  • "I would like it to be a dragon's cave."

Children’s perspective

Insights

This was a rich and rewarding set of case studies, and one that shifted the thinking, practice and play of the system into an area that was wholly appropriate and exceptional. A snapshot on the shifts in practice are: Creative Facilitator assumes the role of demonstrator, facilitator, co-constructor and meaning maker and draw on 'gaming' theory using Goals, rules, voluntary participation, FEEDBACK.

The roles of participation have also shifted and can now be defined as: Master Coder, Constructor, Observer, Distant Director, Player, Play Director, Technologist, and Technologist Observer. With inter-relationships seen as individual, collaborative and communal.

Critical findings

Within the communications types of Generation, Adoption and Discussion, we found all to be present throughout these roles, and mixed reality entry points and trajectories. These diagrams illustrate that every participant's journey is unique.

Critical Evaluation

It was interesting to note that the domination of the screen and the technology sets up the MR bubble from the start. This acted as a bond for the different realities that are in the room (thought, live, game, imagination, looking on, being in). It also defined the bubble, defined the expectation, set up a perception of the world and potential ideas were generated ("I hope we do x"; "wouldn't it be cool if we set my hair on fire.").

Deductive observations proposes the typology of roles are:

  • Facilitator - s/he is the master code. A manifestation of the developer. The author embedded in the code but here manifested in real time. The Game as human. The overarching design, ludic, play, story, action, imagination trajectory puppet master.
  • Technologists - players taking control of the technology, the iPad, the web cam. They choose what we see and how we see it in the screen. They learn by exploring. They pass expertise on through peer to peer learning and shoulder watching. They 1) imitate, then 2) master obstacles, then 3) create freely.
  • Constructors - these are our game designers. They create 4D worlds and obstacles with 3d toys, 2d drawings and their ideas. They operate as a team some with pens, others with cameras. They offer suggestions and solutions to some of the problems the code and the others manifest. Together they develop deeper ideas through collaborative endeavours.
  • Players - actively inhabiting the worlds in the screen, in the music and in the role. They need rules and feedback from facilitator, directors and constructors (the 4 defining traits of a game – goals, rules, feedback, and voluptuary participation). They are 'inside' the core of the game dimension that is set up by us all, and need the most help.
  • Directors - innovate the flow of play, in and out of worlds, that bring forth the 4 defining traits. There is a pecking order of participant, helper, co-author and director. This role needs to be kept fluid and continuously refreshed with input from the observers and players. Technologists and constructors also contribute but from their own perspective.
  • Observers - our quiet saviours, they watch and think, cultivating new ideas; they form macro communities of embodied engagement; they manifest the new ideas and are a vital source of refreshment for our facilitator. They start quiet, then they plot with neighbours (isolated too long they should be encouraged to chatter, to form 'friendships' together in the collective chat rooms), then they start to become distant directors.