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Ravi Thornton's blog

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I’m back home in Manchester now, after a crazily wonderful week in Cardiff. A huge thanks to thinkARK and yello brick for making it all happen, and fingers crossed it runs again next year for another nine lucky individuals to benefit from this significant opportunity.

Benefit we certainly have. Just to recap: nine hackers split into three teams, each having to build a complete ‘playful experience’ in three days, in response to the brief ‘RECLAIMED’.

Team One – Heather, Mog and Jorge – built their searching project FRACTURED MEMORIES, whereby solving different levels of a puzzle took you deeper down memory lane. Though there were definite frustrations along the way, this idea of navigating such a sensory and evocative journey is really beautiful, and I think Heather, Mog and Jorge did an awesome job in trying to realise it.

Team Two – Andrew, Steve and I – built WORLD JOURNEY, a more ambient experience where participants were invited to create images using their mobile phones and upload them to our constantly updating and evolving storyboard. The story for this particular week was designed to provoke reflection on our place in the world.

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In my last post, having announced the name of our Team Two project as WORLD JOURNEY, I asked for feedback on what that name made people think of. We wouldn't really want a name that wrong-footed people, or gave them false expectations.

And I guess an interpretation of these words could be anything, from the universal Big Bang through to inter-railing! So when this feedback came in from Angela Gorman, I was over the moon:

"World Journey
Made me think of your Team 2 work stimulating such a strong collective consciousness that it spreads from the PLAY DO Hack Week across the city, the uk and beyond.... and takes us all on a sub-conscious world journey.... it made me think of the bond we share with all human life across the world.... all going through a journey with many similarities."

Yup. That pretty much hits the nail on the head :)

Day 4 yesterday was ultra-focus-head-down-day as we raced to finish everything up for this morning, including the presentations we'll be giving later today as part of the playARK Festival talks. There's a great line up of speakers and a hugely innovative flavour to the range of their talks. It'll be inspiring to see where 'play' of the kind we've been exploring this week is heading in its development; and interesting to think about how WORLD JOURNEY might fit in to this exciting arena.

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Yesterday was Day 3 of our playARK ‘hackathon’ here in Cardiff. Despite the fact I had to pause every 8.4 seconds to sniff/sneeze/blow my nose/try not to breathe on anyone, it was a another highly productive day that raced by with exciting, but also rather perturbing speed. ‘Office’ hours for us this week are 10-6, but I’m fairly certain every single one of us is working round the clock to ensure we deliver our projects on time. The pressure is on!

Guest speaker was Lisa Matthews from the Arts Council of Wales, which really got us thinking about what we do with our projects after this week? Is there life after playARK?

Day 4 today involves tying things up, testing and devising our presentations for the festival’s day of talks tomorrow. So with a little bit of luck, and if this stoopid cold doesn’t kill me, in my next post I’ll be able to explain more about what our Team Two project actually is.

‘WORLD JOURNEY’ is what we’ve decided to call it. How does that sound to you? What does it make you think of? All thoughts are very welcome :)

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A quick overview of day two’s breakdown before I get to the very lovely bit:

So we arrive back at the Wales Millennium Centre and immediately get into our groups of three. For a good couple of hours we think about the project we’re going to create for the festival game-play day on Saturday. After that it’s guest speaker Rob Pratten talking about his transmedia software Conductrr, which feeds out multiple character and events very cleverly through social media. Lunch break. And we-Team-Two take the opportunity to walk around Cardiff Bay for inspiration. It helps. The morning’s idea that we came up with starts to take shape. A second guest speaker mid-afternoon in the form of Live (Action) Role Player Ian Thomas, with his infectious enthusiasm for costume and pyrotechnics! Then it’s time for the team to share their ideas and get some feedback from the others – very useful indeed. That leaves us with a final half-hour, that my team use to try and solve a technical issue we may be facing in our particular project. All in all a very productive day despite, or perhaps because of, all the questions and thoughts that were raised along the way.

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A fascinating and invigorating first day of play:DO HACK WEEK here in Cardiff Bay. First up host and hack-master Julian Sykes took the floor, asking the question: How can we create playful experiences that are not only fun, but that people can actually take things away from, and thereby promote social change? It’s the question that ‘us nine hackers’ will be mulling over for the rest of the week.

Next we spent awhile introducing ourselves and our passions to the rest of the team: with Kev Moss talking about the difference between making things digital and making digital things; John Collingswood talking about mixed-media layering in contemporary dance; Andrew Price mixing up Dylan Thomas and wind speed; Heather Kelley talking about pushing gaming beyond the digital and physical to the sensory; Chris Mog talking about how mistakes can lead to new solutions; Steve Coleman asking where, why and how do we lose the innate creativity of our childhood, and can we bring it back again; Jorge Lizalde showing us memories he’d recreated in real time; me talking about the architecture of cross-media fiction; and Ben Hyde sticking us all together with elbow charge.

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