Big Game

Big Game - the final report from my Experiments in Interactivity class at USC, describes the one exercise that turned out to bring everything together - the ideas, the talents, the people.

The idea of giant playing cards wasn't particularly new or innovative. But the insights the students gathered from the experience, and the solidarity they achieved, made, in fact, the entire class, and all that we had taught or hoped to teach, come together. You can download (right click) this video, made by the students themselves, for an even more vivid, and narrated overview of the activity.

Perhaps the most deeply instructional part of the experience for everyone took place during the event itself. It turned out to be, well, challenging to get other people to join. It was a hard and unanticipated lesson - all earmarks of its success. Both Tracy and I tried to soften the blow by directing the students' collective attention to all the people who came to watch, for the observers were as much part of the event as were the players. But the students wouldn't have it.

This is well-expressed on a temporary student wiki. Here, from temporary student Aaron Meyers, is a significantly representative sample of what they all experienced:
"On the day of the event, I arrived early and helped to get our game active before the official start time. When I got there, some other team members were already involved in playing some Solitaire. It occurred to me that this was possibly not the best way to start off. It wasn't very visible from the pathways through campus that surrounded us and it was also a kind of insular activity. It just wasn't very inviting. So I insisted that we commence with House of Cards-building at once. This was met with some initial success and earned us our first participants. I got pretty into building houses of cards and spontaneously came up with the idea to turn it into a competitive game. We had our pile of cards in the middle of our space and I directed two teams to attempt to build houses on opposite sides of the pile. The winner would be the team with the largest house when the cards ran out. This ended up working out quite well and was played again later during the day. During the rest of the event, I divided my time between directly participating in the playing of games and attempting to persuade passers-by to join in our game. Playing games presented no challenge. We had a lot of energy going between us so having a good time naturally followed. On the other hand, getting strangers to take part in our game proved a bigger challenge. It was a learning process. Certain approaches worked better than others. It was always a lot of work. I'm still not entirely sure why we had to work so hard to convince people to come have some fun. Most of the people who we got to participate didn't actually need that much convincing... just a gentle prod to try something they were already vaguely interested in."

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