Play can change behavior for the better. It can bring the extraordinary out of the everyday and we can gain new perspectives from the world around us. Play can help us think in a different way, and as designers, come to better creative solutions.
Maziar Raein and I gave a workshop on Play at the Norwegian Academy of Music (NMH) in the Autumn of 2012. The objective was to show the students how play can help you think in a different way and use this mindset to have a bigger overview of their course.
A group of students from different fields of music (classic, jazz, composers, pianists, violinists, etc.) formed teams to engage in the different activities or “games” displayed below. We gave a few constraints and props, and the teams came up with situations or games.
For the second part of the workshop, we split the group in two parts. Part A would create a game for part B and vice-versa. The game’s theme would have to be something about music. However, they couldn’t use instruments!
One team came up with the following game: the other team would have to roll a dice that indicated tempo. Then, they would clap to this tempo, and jump around the room, landing only on the white sheets of paper. After a while they would need to switch tempo and so on. If they missed the beat or touched something other than the white tiles, they would lose.
The other team in return created the following game: the opposite team would have to make a performance with the theme: getting back your passion (in music). To perform, they would have to use red balloons, and they were not allowed to talk.
At the end of the day, we gather to talk about the workshop and get feedback. The students mentioned how this helped them get out of the “rut” some of them were experiencing. They became re-engaged with their practice, and realized that sometimes music is not just about the instruments, but other qualities as well. They were great to work with, and we had a lot of fun that ended up in insights for everyone.
After the workshop ended, I started to think about the different games and situations the students came up with: a two player game with a ball where you must use your head, catching a star with a contraption on your leg, or a utility belt that became the ultimate portable piano. I analyzed this games, and found out that each activity had different qualities. I plotted these qualities and games in a range of experiences; from a more function-based object based game (user-product interaction) at one end of the spectrum, to a more performative experience/game/situation (like the balloon performance), on the other.
The range of experiences from this workshop can be found here:
This helped me not only realize the spectrum of experiences a game or play can be situated in, but also to make a conscious decision of the type of experience I wanted to create for my final project.