Going after the big game

We have been working intensively with Gigantic Mechanic, a NYC based game design firm to create a social game for our Great Hall exhibition on the theme of sustainability.  We have spent a lot of time with dice and cards (my response was to make a game where you build a house out of the cards and dice…) in small groups designing games that we share with each other, then tearing them apart. Once we went into one of our large galleries with a bunch of numbered ping pong balls and created a “Waste Monster” game that had us running back and forth with the balls, trading them, shouting out numbers, trying a “hunter/gatherer” game.

We are trying to create an experience that visitors would come to on a scheduled basis that invites them to play for 20 minutes that would convey some key themes of interdependence, resource trade-offs, collaboration vs competition.  This would all happen in the context of an immersive and responsive environment created by Design-io, who are artists in residence at NYSCI in March-May.  We were drawn to their work through their piece Funky Forest where water flows across the floor, the walls sprout with trees, and who knows what all.  Actually. we have a prototyping session coming up for that immersive environment tomorrow. 

I am really excited by the spark that seems to be kindling between these two very different design firms.  It would be awesome if we could create a large scale immersive 

environment in the Great Hall that responded to visitors and supported the intense interaction that characterizes social games.

That would be a big enough challenge, but we also have to make it so the immersive environment stands on its own.  And we have to make it so the space can be used for other purposes like rentals or Bjork. 

So it is really a huge challenge, but for the first time I am beginning to get a sense of how this might work out. 

The folks from design io and gigantic mechanic have been great, and we have added an awesome new project manager/developer Geralyn Abinader.  She started and ran the digital media program at AMNH for more than a decade, so she is really a huge addition to our team.  Another huge addition in a different way is Leilah Lyons, a PhD computer scientist specializing in embodied interactive experiences.  She is joining us from U Illinois in Chicago.  So there is a lot of new great brain power on this project.