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Play PR workshop/unconference in Toronto | 6.05.2013

As you all know the yearly GRAND conference will be in Toronto from May 14-16, 2013, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. After the conference – we in the PlayPR group will be meeting at OCAD for a two-day workshop May 17 and 18 – which will be part workshop and part Unconference.  The Workshop/Unconference will he held at 205 Richmond St W. and will start at Paula Gardner’s Mobile Lab. Tentatively I would like to suggest that we meet at 10:30 AM at 205 Richmond St W. and decide on everything else together.  We will however cater a meal on the first day – for lunch, and we can decide about dinner later – but please come with dinner ideas!! (e-mail them to me beforehand)

To start – we ask that everyone come with a couple of research ideas.  These should be ideas that really excite you (not something you imagine that GRAND or PlayPR are looking for).  Try to keep the ideas short  so that they can be stated in 2-3 sentences so that way we can do a very quick round at the beginning and set the pace rather than to get bogged down early.  If there are 20 of us – then we will have 40 ideas, which we will then sort into groups.  Then, in Unconference style – we will break into smaller groups based on affinities to the various ideas and whittle them down to half – - – we will then iterate the process.  The idea is that by the end of Saturday we will have a core of a few solid ideas with clusters of people around those ideas.

The GRAND renewal is coming up so this will help us to think about what we might really want to do for that – or beyond that!

Here are some basic details:

205 Richmond St W – (5th floor) rooms 7511 and 7514

Friday May 17th

10:30 – 1 at OCAD - (205 Richmond St W)

Lunch at OCAD – catered

2 – 5:30 at OCAD

Dinner together?

Saturday May 18th – 10 – 5

10 – 1 at OCAD

Lunch – where?

2 – 5 at OCAD





U of Alberta Skype Presentation – PlayPR | 2.04.2013

The University of Alberta presented for the last Skype presentation for the scholastic year of 2012-13.

When: April 2nd, 2013 at 2 (14hr) EST

The University of Alberta Humanities Computing GRAND node has developed and deployed “The Intelliphone Challenge,” a geo-locative game produced in partnership with the City of Edmonton’s Fort Edmonton Park. This game allows players to experience Edmonton’s history through an engaging narrative that guides their experience with Fort Edmonton Park. Run over the summer of 2012, research studies examined user experience, with particular emphasis on user interface design. As a result of user feedback and gameplay metrics, we obtained data to help explain the difficulty in uptake of augmented reality applications, as well as how to streamline ARG user interface design to allow for increased popular use. This presentation will describe the game and its structure, player feedback, and changes that were made to the game and the latest iteration of the fAR-Play platform as a result to allow for reduced barriers to entry, increased ease of use, and the preservation of player engagement. Not only did these changes allow for more users to play and complete “The Intelliphone Challenge,” but they also generated more popular interest in the fAR-Play platform.

   at Concordia University.

PlayPR presentation – March 4th, 2013 | 19.03.2013

The Mobile Experience Lab will introduce the Logger, a data logging platform that includes both hardware and software components. The platform enables users to build and connect sensors together in any configuration. This system allows a user to log biometric data as they walk through the urban environment. It is coupled with a web based visualization system that allows data to be uploaded and visualized by any user connected to the Internet. We have used open hardware and software to build an easily distributed and fabricated data logging system. The Logger is one of many components from a long running SSHRC project titled Biomapping, which explored the development of process-based maps, to question the sense of self through biometric technologies. The Logger is symbolic of larger questions around the politics of data and technology.

UofA exchange with SFU (Shannon Lucky) | 12.03.2013

In late February this year I was graciously hosted by the SFU-SIAT PLAYPR group for a two day collaborative working exchange at the SFU Surrey campus.  Vicki Moulder organized a meeting at SFU-SIAT on Wednesday morning with Carmen Neustaedter and Ron Wakkary where we discussed potential collaborations involving the location based game research taking place at both of our campuses. This meeting resulted in a plan to undertake a group assessment of the game platforms that have been developed at U Alberta, SFU, and Carlton University.

The second day focused on refining our game platform assessment project. We plan to run a workshop at the GRAND 2013 conference in Toronto that would have the teams from the University of Alberta, Simon Fraser University, and Carleton University build history themed location based games using the platforms developed at each other’s universities. Each team will be given access to documentation and developer access to one of the game development platforms, a package of historical content relevant to the location of the conference – namely downtown Toronto- and one hour to build a small, playable segment of a historical location based game. The teams would then playtest each other’s games and give feedback on both the design and play experience.

We hope to use the results of our game platform assessment to pursue more expansive collaborative location based game projects in the future. We realized that one of the common thematic threads in our game research is location based games that have a historical context or narrative. These games take a player through a unique Canadian location and use historical content and resources as a main element of the game narrative and/or player experience. The Canadian landscape is a central element in many artistic representations of our national and local identities which we felt could serve as the basis for a successful location based game project. We discussed the possibility of creating a location based game or game series that would have a united design concept and could be played in many locations across Canada based on artistic representations of national identity such as the work of the Group of Seven. The theme of the body in the landscape is a promising area to explore through the lens of location based gaming and we hope it will stretch the potential of our game platforms beyond simple scavenger hunt mechanics. We will discuss this plan in more depth following the platform assessment project and in person at the GRAND conference in May 2013.

I gave a well-attended talk on the afternoon of the second day at SIAT about the PLAY-PR research taking place at the University of Alberta. I presented the progression of our games research over the past three years and several of the location based games we have built at the UofA. I also elaborated on areas we would like to focus on in the future such as more in-depth assessment of game design projects, increasing player quotas for games tested ‘in the wild’, and overcoming technical issues for smartphone-based games where connectivity to data and GPS signals is unreliable. We had a great discussion about designing for failure of data connectivity and finding new types of game mechanics for location based games beyond scavenger hunt modes of play.

I would like to thank Vicki Moulder, Ron Wakkary, Carman Neustaedter, and everyone I met at SIAT for their generosity with their time and expertise. This exchange was a great opportunity to see the all the work being done at SIAT and to get a jump start on plans for future collaborative projects within the PLAY-PR network.

‘Gaming Beyond Screens’ February 9, 2013 | 30.01.2013

The Technoculture, Art and Games Research Centre (TAG) at Concordia University presents ‘Gaming Beyond Screens,’ a public symposium and arcade featuring digital games focused on physical interaction, movement and space. 

The event is free and will take place on Saturday Feb 9th from 3-5pm in EV1 – 615 – 1515 Ste Catherine St O

The symposium speakers include game designers, Bart Simon (TAG/Concordia), Doug Wilson (Die Gut Fabrik), Kaho Abe (Eyebeam Art and Techonology Centre) and Jim Toepel (Harmonix). The talks will cover these designers’ experiences and insights in creating experimental and non-traditional movement-based games that challenge prevailing ideas about what video games can and could be.

Following the talks, TAG will host a public arcade in the Hexagram Black Box (EV 0S3-845/855) featuring Hughes, Simon and Tingley’s Propinquity (, Abe’s Hit-Me (, Die Gut Fabrik’s Joust ( and Harmonix’s Dance Central 3(

This event takes place as part of two day workshop on gestural game design sponsored by the Office of Research at Concordia University, the Faculty of Fine Arts, the Play and Performance project of the GRAND NCE and the Technoculture, Art and Games Research Centre.



Kaho Abe

I am a designer based in NYC interested in improving social and personal experiences through the use of technology, fashion and games.

I am currently a Computational Fashion Fellow at Eyebeam Art & Technology Center and the Artist in Residence at the Game Innovation Lab at NYU-Poly where I research and build games that utilize technology to bring people together face to face. Some of my projects include Hit Me!Mary Mack 5000 and Ninja Shadow Warrior. I am currently working on a game that explores costumes as game controllers. My projects have appeared in shows and conferences in NYC, Boston, San Jose, the UK, Greece, China and Japan, and have been discussed in various publications including I.D. Magazine, Kill Screen Magazine, CNET News, NBC, NY1 and the Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun.

I teach classes and workshops on designing and building alternative physical game controllers, and co-host a monthly playtesting event with Come Out and Play at Eyebeam. I hold a MFA in Design & Technology from Parsons the New School for Design and was formerly a Fellow at Eyebeam Art & Technology Center in NYC.

My other passions include film, music and day dreaming.


Hit Me!


Jim Toeple

“I like to make things. Especially when they make us better.”

After joining the Dance Central team to work on metagame/campaign/shell for Dance Central 2, Jim took over Lead Design duties for Dance Central 3 which is currently holding the spot as the highest-rated Kinect game of all time.

All this was after he finished a tour of duty with the Hardware Manufacturing team working on peripherals for The Beatles: Rock Band and Rock Band 3. Jim is really excited to be working on Harmonix games, blending his love of music, fitness and social “couch” gaming into a delicious dance-related stew.

Before joining Harmonix, Jim worked for The Boeing Company in various capacities, not limited to crawling over, under and inside the Space Shuttle. Carrying a BS in Material Science and a MS in Industrial/Systems Engineering, Jim tends to obsess over both the minutia and the big picture.

Outside of work Jim is an advocate for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education in Massachusetts, regaling grade-schoolers with stories from his time at Harmonix and his previous life as a rocket engineer at Kennedy Space Center.


Dance Central 3


Doug Wilson

Douglas Wilson is a Lead Game Designer and Partner at Die Gute Fabrik, a small game studio based in New York City and Copenhagen, Denmark. He is currently working on a number of game projects including Johann Sebastian Joust, which received the Innovation Award at the 2012 Game Developers Choice Awards. Doug recently finished a PhD dissertation at IT University of Copenhagen, where he wrote about designing games that embrace an aesthetic of confrontation, silliness, and brokenness. His work has been shown around the world, in venues such as the Independent Games Festival, IndieCade, and the Museum of Modern Art.



For more info contact the TAG Coordinator Jane Tingley at 514-848-2424 X 4061 or at


Playing the Past | 14.11.2012

We had a fantastic presentation last Friday by the Hypertext and Hypermedia Lab at Carlton University in Ottawa.  They gave a really interesting presentation about their project called – Heritages Passages Virtual Museum.  They talked about the trials and successes inherent in cross-disciplinary collaborative projects and discussed their experience of challenges of gamifying history.  Unfortunately we couldn’t screen capture the whole talk as we have done in the past – but I took an image of Concordia’s side of the audience.  I think to date – this was the most successful SKYPE presentation – in terms of attendance.  Thank you everyone for coming – and I hope we can continue to have as many people.

I have noticed that we are becoming more and more at ease with this medium of presentation – I saw a lot of people making jokes and noticed that we have become comfortable with each other – chatting and discussing ideas.

I think there are still better ways to improve the communication – Bart, Lynn and I discussed afterwards that we should set up a conference call.  So that when SKYPE cuts out – we can still hear everything.

Next time…

Playing the Past – PlayPR Skype Presentation – “Hypertext and Hypermedia Lab” | 5.11.2012

PlayPR will have another SKYPE presentation in all of the labs across Canada.

Montreal’s location for the presentation will be the TAG Research Centre – EV 11-655.

Date: Friday November 9th

Time: 2PM EST

Who: Carlton University - ”Hypertext and Hypermedia Lab”

This informal talk uses the Heritages Passages Virtual Museum Project as a jumping off point to discuss the challenges of cross-disciplinary collaboration, the difficulties of gamifying history,  and the joys of late afternoon game design.

The Making of SKYPE presentation | 29.10.2012 | 29.10.2012

On October 11th at 2pm EST Vicki Moulder and Andrew Laurenson from SFU presented on their project Babylonia.  We had an excellent turn out from all 5 universities.  In the presentation Vicki Moulder and Andrew Laurenson discussed the making of an augmented reality game (ARG) that explores the philosophical implications of mind uploading and questions if humanity hasn’t already begun the transition.

Unfortunately we were unable to capture the presentation – but the next one will definitely be recorded.  The next presentation is scheduled for Friday November 9th at 2pm EST.  Carlton will be presenting for the first time ever!  We are very excited to see what they have been up to.

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