A few things Mark Wallace

Tag: events

Help Bring the Cardboard Renaissance to South by Southwest

I had the good fortune to attend GenCon a couple of weeks ago (which I’ve written about for Shut Up & Sit Down), and it’s only made me more excited to try to bring some hot cardboard action to South by Southwest. I’ve proposed a panel there for March about lessons that cardboard and electronic games may have for each other, composed of three of the most interesting publishers in board gaming:

  • Mark Kaufmann, co-founder of Days of Wonder, which publishes the best-selling Ticket to Ride
  • Kristin Looney, head of Looney Labs, which publishes the Fluxx games
  • Cory Jones of Cryptozoic Entertainment, which publishes a lot of licensed games, as well as a few interesting originals such as Gravwell, which I need to break out at game night.

You can help make it happen by voting for the panel over at the SXSW panelpicker. It would be great to get a panel like this going at SXSW, as we’d probably also do a n open play lounge with a bunch of board games and other fun stuff. I really want to see it happen mostly because it would be fun! So drop us a vote over there, will you? Thanks!

Season of Change?

Around here, everyone wants to change the world, but it seems that late-September / early-October is the season when a lot of those hopes take shape — if the conference schedule is anything to judge by. Here’s a (very) short list of conferences pushing change in the coming months:

Clinton Global Initiative
The Clinton Foundation holds the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative on Sept. 23-25 in New York City. CGI is notable in that the conference has a very strong focus on commitments for action from corporations and global leaders — although the track record of delivering on those commitments is debatable.

The Feast
The Feast is a young but recently expanded conference, also being held in New York, Oct. 3-5. With its Social Innovation Week, The Feast brings together talks, workshops, and hackathons featuring everyone from Cirque du Soleil creative directors, NASA technologists, startup CEOs like Bre Pettis, and more. “We’re done waiting for the world to change,” states the conference Web site. “The Feast Conference gathers remarkable entrepreneurs, radicals, doers and thinkers that bring their talents to the table to make life better. Our attendees don’t just sit back. They’ll be rolling up their sleeves at roundtables this October to respond to challenges issued by visionary speakers who dare to ask the question, What does the world need now?” Again, the proof’s in the follow-through. It would be great for the site to feature the results of previous conferences more strongly, if anything.

The Social Capital Markets conference — which bills itself as sitting at “the intersection of money and meaning” — is also held in early October, slated for Oct. 1-4 here in San Francisco. SoCap is “dedicated to increasing the flow of capital toward social good,” but has proved slightly unexciting, from all reports, and fronts a mixed bag of panelists so far. If anything, it’s the money that appears to be under-represented. 2011 attendee Nell Edgington has a good account of issues at last year’s conference.

Of course, all of the above raises the question of whether chin-wags like these are really the places from which change will emerge. I do think it’s largely a bottom-up issue, as The Feast holds, but I also think it can’t happen without support from the top, as the CGI is well aware. Stay tuned.

Exploring the Next Capitalism at South by Southwest

It’s pimping season for the South-by-Southwest Interactive festival, and of course I’m pimping a panel I’ve proposed:

How the Next Capitalism Can Meet Global Challenges” is the nifty-enough title that you still have a few days to vote for. Voting closes at the end of August. Read more about the panel — and vote! — at the link above, or here:

I’m planning the panel with an old friend, Eric Nonacs, who’s been working on sustainable economic and social development for many years, both in non-profits and the private sector, notably as an advisor to Bill Clinton at the Clinton Foundation and as an organizer of the annual Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York. The panel (if it gets accepted — that link again: ) would be the culmination of a long-running conversation Eric and I have had about new approaches to business, the economy, and capitalism itself, and could be the start of an interesting project.

Essentially, we’re exploring business and economics from a point of view that’s neither Wall Street nor Occupy Wall Street, but which looks at how capitalism could evolve to meet the challenges we’re facing at the moment — challenges that current systems and practices are insufficient to tackling: things like climate change, income inequality, structural unemployment, and a host of others.

We’ve come to the conclusion that a careful examination of the economic and political landscape will reveal new approaches that can help make real progress toward solutions on issues like the above. But it will take an evolution in the systems we have now, rather than a revolution. It’s not that we have the answers, but we are interested in how we can help discover the future of business, define its tools and techniques, and disrupt a landscape that no longer serves the public, the country, or the world.

If you’re interested in a similar dialogue, please help us get our presentation on the South-by-Southwest schedule by voting for it at before the end of August, and forwarding this email to anyone you think may be interested. Of course, the PanelPicker counts for only about 30% of the decisionmaking weight this year, so if you want to help by lobbying SXSW advisors or staff, please feel free!

Hope to see you in Austin.

Pervasive Gaming and Best Practices at StoryWorld

I was at the StoryWorld conference in San Francisco earlier this week. It’s great to see the beginnings of a cohesive community and body of thought emerge around transmedia and evolving narrative — it reminds me of the early days of the community coming together around virtual worlds, and what fun it was to chronicle that.

I talked to a bunch of interesting people, but only sat in on one or two of the panel presentations. Herewith some notes on one of them, titled Streets That Tell Stories: How Pervasive Gaming Engages Audiencespervasive gaming being the kind that inhabits the real world around you, that takes place over hours or days or weeks or months, and has as its playing field a building or street or city or actual, physical world. You may not have heard much of this kind of game before, but there have been some very cool examples (linked below, of course).

The panel addressed techniques and approaches for creating pervasive games, and was moderated by Christy Dena of Universe Creation 101 (among other things), and featured three panelists:

Some of the recommendations and experience that came out of the panel:

  • If you trust people to enter into the world you’ve created for them, they absolutely know what to do.
  • Design to accommodate different levels of engagement.
  • You’re not just working in one medium, you’re thinking pretty much 360 every minute.
  • You have to know what the space is like at all times of day, and days of the week.
  • There’s no point in feeling you should do something in a traditional way.
  • You want to be on the ground and scout out those spaces, see what opportunities arise.
  • You have to be able to improvise as a creator and as someone running these things.
  • We’re like Situationalists 2.0, we just have better tools now. — Jeff Hull

Hull introduced himself as Creator Director of Nonchalance, “a situational design agency” in San Francisco. “Situational experiences involve spaces and people and other things to add to the environment. This is in contrast to experiential design, which very often can be kept within the two-dimensional monitor-based realm. Our mission is to provoke discovery through visceral experience and pervasive play, by reengineering the way participants and audience members interact with media, with the space around them, and most importantly with each other.”

Hull’s Nonchalance is best known for a very cool pervasive game built around an organization called the Jejune Institute, in which players worked to solve mysteries whose clues were hidden around SF, take part in protests, and participate in other immersive experiences that took place in the streets and buildings of the city. To get more of a feel for the particulars of the Jejune Institute, watch the trailer, and read this New York Times piece about the game.

While this isn’t too far removed from alternate reality gaming as we’ve come to know it, Nonchalance seems to be aiming for a more immersive and pervasive experience than most of those we’ve seen before. I think there’s a lot of potential for this, especially when combined with tools and practices from more “traditional” electronic gaming — not to take away from the pervasive experience, but to enhance it and help drive players to engage. Continue reading

Discount Passes to Engage! Expo

You can use code MWVIP to get $200 off an all-access pass to Engage! Expo, which takes place September 23-24 at the San Jose Convention Center. It looks to be an interesting couple of days, featuring panels and talks on social media, virtual goods, 3D environments and more.


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