This week’s good things – so far – have been the launch of SuperMe, a Channel 4 project I’ve been working on for a while. It’s a project to help teenagers (and, frankly, the rest of us), develop better mental resiliance, through videos, quizzes, games and useful mind hacks. Working with the team assembled by Somethin’ Else and Preloaded has been a great privilege, and I’ve learned things both about my own brain and my approach to game design generally. The minigames within it are some of my favourite projects from the last few years. Play them here, and let me know what you think.
And then, on cue, Channel 4 goes as wins Publishing Hero at the Develop Awards. I’m gutted not to have been there, and very proud to have been connected with some bold commissioning and fantastic projects. Although, I confess, I think C4 didn’t really deserve to win this year, but only cos next year’s slate is so amazingly awesome. They’re going to run out of hyperbolic award titles at this rate.
And why wasn’t I there? Cos I was debuting Couple Up, the game made by the participants of this week’s WonderLab. WonderLab was three days of performers and playmakers coming together to do what you do in a lab – tinker, theorise, experiment and make. A fantastic group of musicians, writers, composers, actors, directors, producers, commissioners, game designers, coders, artists and philosophers and spent three days sharing their brains. I’ve rarely had a greater treat than getting to lead their explorations.
Everyone who attended the lab – speakers and visitors and participants – was asked to speak for five minutes on something which blew their mind (or, if I was feeling a bit more articulate, something which amazed or delighted them). Some spoke about personal experiences, some about their work. Many of them exceeded their five minutes a little, but we all forgave them, as I’m confident will you. All those talks are available over at WonderLab’s YouTube channel, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
I can’t begin to pick favourites, but if you’re a game designer you might want to start with Tassos Steven’s talk. If you’re a musician, you might be interested in hearing from Momus or Pat Kane. If you’re a sound or graphic designer, perhaps with Nick Ryan. If you’re at all interesting in creativity (or indeed copyright), you might want to hit Mark Earls first (in a good way). If you’re smart enough to be interested in people you haven’t heard of yet (and trust me, I mean yet), try Jason Anthony. If you want to think about how fragile and beautiful interaction can be, start with Melanie Wilson, or perhaps choose to examine the value of anticipation with Aleks Krotoski. If you want a big fat perspective check – in all kinds of ways – then maybe with Kati London, Jo Twist or Malcolm Sutherland. If you want to think about why playing with pain is interesting, with Paul Bennun. Or, if you want to instantly go and drop £30 on Amazon, with Tom Armitage. Then you might want to hear about performing games from Richard Lemarchand, or help Maurice Suckling explore the infinite. And, if all else fails, you can watch mine to discover the heckle that’s going to haunt me for a thousand talks to come.
I’m not supposed to say this about my own event, but it was basically the best conference I’ve ever been to, even though it was only a conference for an hour or two a day. We’ll be posting up news of Couple Up, the game that represents the digest and distillation of all our experiments in the next couple of days. We’re really looking forward to hear what you make of it.