Virtual worlds such as Second Life are gaining popularity fast - they are places for acting out fantasies, but also for film making and telling stories. Techniques like machinima offer new possibilities for creating films and television in the 3D worlds of popular computer games - as for instance the BBC and Endemol are doing. There is a huge window of opportunity for media makers interested in the collaboration and exchange between games and other kinds of media.
In this 5-day workshop, Mediamatic will bring professional media makers, producers, broadcasters and production companies up-to-date on game culture and will provide makers with the tools to incorporate game aspects in crossmedia projects.
Trainers and assistants
Friedrich Kirschner, Machinima pioneer, game programmer and experienced workshop trainer will host the intensive Games in Crossmedia training. Friedrich is a filmmaker, visual artist and board member of the Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences. He repurposes computer games to create animated narratives and interactive performances.
Daniel van Gils. Daniel is a freelance new media developer, interaction designer and programmer working on very diverse projects that focus on reconfiguring technology for innovative purposes. Very skilled in modding, Daniel can dive deep into the technicalities of game editors and is able to repurpose its contents from within the editors and create something new out of it.
Julian Oliver is a New Zealand born artist, free software developer, teacher, composer and media-theorist. Julian has given numerous workshops and master classes in game-design, artistic game-development, virtual architecture, interface design, augmented reality and open source development practices worldwide. In 1998 he established the artistic game-development collective, Select Parks.
Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, workshop coordinator and coach at Mediamatic, together with a team of five assistants will monitor the participants progress and offer hands-on support during the creative development of their crossmedia game projects.
Still from AVRO's Little Planet at Second Life
Content and goals of the workshop
During the workshop, participants will build a prototype of their crossmedia project and develop and visualize its user-scenarios.
Participants will learn the basic principles of creating machinima, designing 3D game spaces and developing game play and game rules. Participants will also learn about trends in game culture such as massive multi-player games and new kinds of game interfaces like the Nintendo Wii. Besides this, participants will be updated on the new web culture of creating, matching and sharing user-generated content, which is very influential in game culture. Through the course of the workshop many practical examples of crossmedia projects which feature game technology such as Historic Battles (BBC), and Bamzooki (BBC), Peter Greenaway's Tulse Luper Suitcases and Endemol's Second Life projects, will be viewed and analyzed.
In relation to the Games in Crossmedia workshop participants are encouraged to participate in one of the media seminars at the Cinekid festival.
The participants will be introduced to the following handy tools to build their prototypes: Sims2, Second Life, Quake3/Machinimation. Participants are free to bring their own favorite games to work with as well.
This workshop is possible thanks to the support of the MEDIA PLUS PROGRAMME.
Most media seem to do well in a crossmedial blend, but the number of relevant and/or interesting crossmedia projects that involve computer games is limited, with BBC's Bamzooki as exception. Why? Probably because games are still unknown territory to media makers from other media disciplines. Not to forget that game technology is often perceived as intimidating. Games have a distinct culture with its own language and set of values, a threshold to those seeking to blend it with other media forms.
Coaches and Participants
Participants to this workshop were game researchers, media makers from TV and newer media as well as mobile game entrepeneurs. Their process followed two opposed directions that met halfway.
Participant in Workshop Experimenting
The First Approach
One workshop track went from the inside of game technology outward. Along this track we explored the possibilities for creative play with game technology for other purposes than just gaming. Game technology is very accomplished, extremely flexible and totally ready to be explored and exploited in endless new media contexts, also because many contemporary games come with their own designing tools. Can musical instruments be built with a game engine? Sure, demonstrated lecturer Daniel van Gils. Can you make theatre in game spaces? Indeed, showed Bas Haas' SecondLife project, and even the audience knows exactly how to behave. Can you blend in-game recorded images with video footage made in the real world? Participants Menno and Oscar Grootveld explored the possibilities and came up with a small documentary on a World of Warcraft troll that had to see a therapist, and ultimately joins the Alliance.
An other excellent demonstration was provided with Julian Oliver's project Levelhead. As you can see a little computer generated man is trapped in a small wooden cube in your hand. By tilting the cube you give him directions, and help him to find the way out. Computer generated imagery is edited in realtime into live video, with near magical effects.
The Second Approach
The other workshop strand started outside game culture, and worked its way in. This was about opening up game design and development to other media practices. Lecturer and participant Valentina Rao in her presentation provided a short analysis of of what effective crossmedia practices boil down to: transmedial worlds or transmedial characters, that can be engaged with through various media channels. She pointed out that there is one successful game genre that is crossmedial by nature - Alternate Reality Games (ARG's) although they don't typically use 3D game technology. Participant Tomas Karminskas (LIT) developed an idea for a crossmedial character that was inspired by the garden gnome from Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulin. This character could live on all your media apparatuses and can appear on your pictures, prints, and even in games you play. This project was partly a reaction to the notion that most games are separate worlds, that on a narrative and experiential level do not blend well with other story worlds.
Other questions that came up in this strand were: How can gaming be televised in ways that is equally intriguing (or even just understandable) to non-gamers? Should broadcasters of children television start working in game spaces as well? What do educators need to know to speak 'game culture' so that their game projects not only look interesting to adult non-gamers but are appealing to your target group of teen gamers as well?
Participants Rachel de Wit (NL) and Ilse Godtschalk (NL) developed an educational space inside Second Life. Here resided a game character that had previously been an extra figure in Quake3 and 4, as a masked sniper in CounterStrike, and as common grunt in several Doom editions, but that had now decided on a change in his life. He had become sick of the everyday violence in his existence, and now coached children and adolescents, teaching them how to deal with violence in games.
This exciting and very insightful workshop still only scratched the surface of the seemingly endless possibilities. Therefore be sure to look out for upcoming Mediamatic workshops on game technology in wider contexts.