Week 667

What’s this? I’m blogging about my work on a weekly basis – a simple way to track and archive whatever it is I spend my time on.

Not a lot of actual writing last week – it can be surprising and sometimes frustrating how much time and energy goes into the stuff around what you really want to do. I did, however, write a column about Playful, which was printed in nrc.next.

Nrc.next also published reviews of The Binding of Isaac by Alper Çuğun, and Just Dance 3 by Rogier Kahlmann (which I edited). Additionally, the new Items magazine appeared, with art students’ graduation work as its theme, including some game stuff. I wrote about Fingle, among others.

On Tuesday I paid a long-overdue visit to Paul Sebes, my literary agent. I gave him a synopsis and two chapters of De verdwijners (‘The Disappearers’), a short(ish) novel I’ve been working on for the last year. For those who are keeping track, Sexy Sadie is not off the table – it’s just large and complex, and I hope that finishing and publishing this smaller book will motivate me to pull through. We also discussed a couple of non-fiction ideas, such as a book about the Dutch games industry.

Last Thursday I spent doing a masterclass on ‘serious gaming for cooperative driving’. Really more of a brainstorm session among industrial designers and game designers, with running commentary from Utrecht School of the Arts, TomTom, and Automotive Technology Centre people. We thought about ways in which a game element could improve traffic flow, or actually: ways in which a game element could motivate people to keep to a dynamic speed advice, communicated through their car system or smartphone.

Divided into four groups, the designers came up with some interesting concepts, such as Duckling Platooning. My group proposed that an augmented speed advice game could be made more effective by having drivers play it in short, minigame-like bursts instead of continually.

On Saturday I attended another masterclass, in which Michael Orton Toliver of Boom Chicago trained me and three others in our presentation skills. I’ve been doing more public speaking over the years, and I like it, but feel like I could get a lot better at it. Hence the masterclass. Michael made me feel more confident about my strengths as a speaker and gave me some great tips to work on my weaknesses – including one tic I never really noticed, but really should get rid of.

Over at Bashers, it was great to see the discussion about games in museums still going strong, with Bart Rutten from the Stedelijk Museum and Kars Alfrink joining in. (I worked with Kars on Code 4, a game for the Dutch Tax Administration.)

Other than that, I’ve been reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Verdict so far: a bit dry, could have used another round of editing, borders on amateur psychology sometimes. And Jobs smelled and was a nutjob.

I’ve also been playing Uncharted 3, for a review in nrc.next. Verdict so far: even more spectacular than the last episode, with a smoother blend of the various game elements. And is it just me or is there a lot of Tintin influence here?