Hybrid games for stronger neighborhoods : connecting residents and urban objects to deepen the sense of place
This learning workshop will prototype and advance theory around the participatory design of hybrid games. In contrast to screen-centered games, our platform makes it easier to repurpose ordinary urban objects – from aging payphones to experimental bus stop displays. The resulting games are hybrids, where the action is alternately woven across the digital and physical. Successful hybrid games offer choices to players that are immediate, from introducing neighbors (building the social fabric), to photographing street art (documenting local culture), buying from a local business (shifting the economy), and revealing local history. Based on three years of experience in South Los Angeles, our methods for Participatory Design (PD) combine low and high- tech to leverage local culture. The resulting games emphasize social mixing – including with local businesses – and are amplified online with flows of pictures, audio and text. For workshop participants, no technology skills are needed – since the platform seeks to maximize participation in the design process. Participants’ own knowledge of cities and important cultural neighborhoods will be used to create 2-3 semi- functional games. Hidden in each design is a set of technologies that join communication networks, including cell phone SMS and Raspberry Pi computers hidden inside payphones. The most important result of this workshop may be in identifying PD theory that could help the field of game design, and vice-versa, as the two fields increasingly consider street- based media and how to constitute publics around city streets.