A game I designed was just released: #DiskiSkills

I completely realise that the headline is a bit unwieldy.

I didn’t release the game, it is not my game.

I didn’t make the whole game, I did the game design (only). It actually feels completely weird to not have anything to do with how a thing I contributed to looks, since I’m so used to playing the art and/or design role.

Simphiwe Xulu, in collaboration with the Johannesburg Goethe Institute, was making a card game that was themed around the local South African one-on-one “Freestyling” soccer culture (also called “Diski”), and also have an app component of showing videos  of how Diski moves looked through AR.

They were having trouble with the game design (their first iterations were basically a version of Top Trumps, remember that from your playground days?), and so they consulted with me to improve on the game design, while keeping the same elements. We went through a process of interrogating what Diski was all about, and ended up with the current game design for #DiskilSkills, where two players take turns attacking with various Diski moves, and where skills were equal, the player with more swag (“style” in the local vernacular) would win the point. “thematic af” was the goal of the design, and I daresay we did pretty well with it.

The game was launched on Oct 27 at the Goethe Institute at an event with actual Freestylers and kids showing off their real #DiskiSkills. I got to watch people play the game without me having to give any input – watching people read your rules and play the game without your help is a really awesome feeling! Further, watching people laughing as they kick each other’s ass, learning to get better at it, was fantastic.

#DiskiSkills game rules
Game rules

Thanks to the Goethe Institute Johannesburg, Simphiwe (Mr Media X) and everyone involved in bringing this to life!

Designing for #EnterAfrica: a pan-African boardgame collaboration spanning 15 countries.

The Goethe Institute has been doing a mega project called EnterAfrica, which has two parts: Part one involves each of the 15 African countries involved creating location-based mobile games in their 15 cities that tell a story about the past and future of their city, and part two is the creation of a mega analogue game (tabletop game) by a collaboration of all 15 countries.

I was fortunate to have experience both in graphic design and tabletop games design, and I was involved in part one of EnterAfrica, and so was serendipitously brought in to help bring this ambitious game design project to life.

It was a tall order: the goal was to synthesise the voices, experiences and cultures of 15 diverse countries to create a united vision and expression as one game. The project was led by Christoph Deeg, a German gamification and digital/analogue strategy specialist, and various members of the Addis Ababa Goethe Institute. We had a one week workshop in Addis Ababa to get to know each other and home in on a game design which will then be crafted and designed further.

And what a week it was! We worked hard, exchanging and talking about everything from the principles of game design to cultural ideas and ideals, to individual and group experiences. I knocked out prototypes in record time and wrote and re-wrote rules. We learned from one another, laughed with one another, and had our eyes on the ball – the culmination of a single game that will represent both the diversity and the unity of the participating group of African countries.

I’m super grateful to the Goethe Institute for such an amazing, ambitious and expansive initiative, not only is the vision for such inclusivity astounding, the sensitivity with which the whole project was handled was inspiring and something I’ve learned a ton from <3

The week-long workshop is over, and we have a game design that’s all about trading resources in order to achieve one’s nation’s goals. The game is far from done yet, but we have the core values and rules that will take it to the finishing line. The game is planned to show in 2019 at A MAZE Berlin and Gamescom, so if you’re gonna be there, look out for the game. And with some luck, maybe I’ll see you there?

Catch-up in the NYE: 2017

It’s January 2018, and I haven’t updated here in over a year.

So let me do a quick catchup of the highlights of some stuff I’ve gotten up to in the last year or so:

4 Boardgames Successfully Kickstarted

Working with the experienced game designer Corné Van Moorsel of Cwali Games in the Netherlands, we have put out four successfully funded Kickstarters.

          

A Few Rad Game Jams

There’s always the annual Global Game Jam, and the thrice a year Ludum Dares, and I always do them if I possibly can. Jamming often has taught me a bunch of stuff, and of course given me a couple cool prototypes:

Orbito was made for Ludum Dare 40, and I’m working to release this as it was quite well received and it’s also a tiny scope that I can manage by myself.

Battery//Assault was a fun experiment for Ludum Dare 39 from which I learned oodles about animation by physics. It was also well-received, maybe one day I’ll take it to fruition.

Gamejams of note other than Ludum Dares included 2017’s annual Global Game Jam in which I made a skiprope physics sportsball game Wibble:

And I also had a great jam as a part of the Goethe Institute of Johannesburg‘s Game Mixer event, where cool people from all over the world came to Joburg as an exchange of knowledge and experience. I made a pretty little gardening, sun and shadow prototype we called Pumyjeka with Jeff Rusch from Cape Town.

Inktober 2017

I managed to stick to discipline and did the full month of Inktober with one drawing a day! 🙂 You can see them all on my instagram, starting from this guy here:

This guy was my favourite of the lot:

Coming in 2018!

As a summary, this has already gone too long. There are several projects going on right now that should fruit in 2018. I’m really looking forward to those. Enough typing into WordPress. Onwards to more stuff-making!

10 Things About VR – A VR Primer [A MAZE 2016 talk]

I did this talk at the 2016 A MAZE International Game and Playful Media Festival in Johannesburg, as a primer for people getting into VR, because I just got into VR, and I got into VR HARD. Absolutely in love with it. (And yes, this is about 2 months late, sorry!)

Download 10 Things About VR slides in pdf

Unfortunately it wasn’t recorded, but here is a very quick and dirty companion to the slides to explain some stuff that won’t be apparent from looking at them:

  1. Origin Story:
    I got into VR because of the Vive. Nothing else was nearly as good. I spent a few weeks jamming games on Free Lives’ Vive, and made three quick prototypes (one I haven’t put online yet) within my limited time with it.
  2. Things I wish I knew about Vive + VR:
    It’s easier than I thought it would be, it has no Mac support, direct sunlight wrecks the sensors.
  3. Simulation sickness:
    Look up the poison berries theory, try not to get people sick.
  4. Depth:
    Such an important dimension that humans already know but had to unlearn in 2D interfaces. Now we can intuitively access it again!
  5. Presence:
    Different ways of convincing human minds of plausibility of the simulation.
  6. Social VR:
    VR is not anti-social.
  7. Ultimate Display:
    VR is one more step along the continuum of technologies that close the gap between one’s private mind and one’s shared reality.
  8. Storytelling:
    VR brings people back to a less singular vision of stories due to the popularisation of books and film and other single-point-of-view medium
  9. Audio:
    Audio is key to immersion, much more than visual. Remember that!
  10. VR is important because:
    See the slides! It’s bigger than any single person!

My gift to Afrika Burn 2016: Drawing your #spiritcritter

I had an absolutely magical time at AfrikaBurn 2016.

As one of the 11 guiding principles of AfrikaBurn is Gifting, everyone attending should bring along something to gift to people, free of expectations of getting something back. It could be anything – bring something, give something, a skill, objects, anything. It is your form of self-expression, as long as you gift responsibly, anything goes.

About two weeks before the burn, I decided to go. With such a short timeframe, I didn’t have a clue what to gift, and after some brainstorming, this idea came to me – I would draw people their spirit animals. But not “spirit animals” – because then most people would say “dog” or “cat” or “horse” or “lion”. I wanted to gift them their very own creature. Like a Pokemon. Like Pokemon cards!

So I guillotined a bunch of cards, doodled this board, and off I went to the burn to meet people and gift them their spirit pokemon 🙂

Cg1J6PdWMAAgZx7

The gifting experience was simply incredible. I didn’t do nearly as many cards as I wanted to at the burn, I VASTLY underestimated my ability to meet people and draw these things quickly. I bought 500 blank cards with. I drew 30 by the end of the burn. And totally forgot to take photos of a bunch of them D:

Chatting to people about what they wanted their spirit creature to be was incredibly amazing. It gave a glimpse into their mind and their life, the part that might otherwise not have come out through small talk and pleasantries, and for that privilege I’m superbly grateful. I feel as if I got more out of my gift than I gave.

Throughout the burn, I learned that asking people “what is your spirit pokemon?” very easily resulted in answers like “Charizard!” and “Pikachu!”. So after the burn I rephrased the concept to Spirit Critter, and now I collect these babies daily in my dedicated #spiritcritter tumblr.

spiritcritter

For the longest time I had wanted an ongoing project that would hold my attention. Previously I did daily pokepeopledoodles for a while, but then I eventually got bored of translating pokemon into human form. This, translating real people into pokemon, is *so* much more interesting and meaningful, so this is going to be an ongoing thing for me.

Hope to meet you and your spirit critter someday!

Here are some of them: Catch more of them on the #spiritcritter tumblr!

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