Let your kid play with your iPad. It'll be fun.

Tod Lappin shared a brief video of his 2-1/2 year-old daughter playing with an iPad with Laughing Squid readers. And now, I'm sharing it with you.

That's his daughter, of course, the same one who gets to play with his iPhone.

At the end of the clip you can hear her say "I did it! I did it!" Which, of course, is what this is all about, this iPad - an invitation to delight, a gateway to accomplishment.

No, I don't think anyone's recommending that you buy one for your precocious preschooler. But I do think that the clip gives us a very clear insight into what makes the iPad such a noteworthy technology. It's what Apple has been about since its inception. The accessibility of it all.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Sportpong and the future of sports

players playing pong, with their feet, on projected boardSportpong "is an interactive physical computer game. The field is projected on the floor, two or more players can fight in teams against each other. With a paddle on each foot you hit the ball to the goal or to defend your goal. Not only smartnes and reactivity let you win, also geometric appreciation and teamplay is required...a reflector on each foot is the only physical tool to interact with Sportpong. The interface is integrated in the field which is projected on the floor. The players control the game with their feet, nothing else."

It bears all the hallmarks of a genuine sport - engaging mind and body, requring speed, agility, focus. But it's played in a darkened room, with computer-controlled light. There's no physical ball or racquet. To get a better feel for the depth of the game, take a look at these videos or images.

Sportpong is an intimation of the future of sports. We may not see Sportpong in the coming Olympics, but it is clearly inevitable that, sooner or later, advances in technology will become so profoundly incorporated into the very definition of sports that we will be meeting on computer-enhanced playing fields, interfacing with technology and each other to test our extended virtual, intellectual, social and physical skills.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Playful User

Jonathan Follett asks: "What makes a person want to use one particular digital product or service over its competitor? What makes one user experience more engaging, interesting, or compelling than another?"

He answers for us: "An often overlooked, under-appreciated, and rarely measured component of user experience is playfulness."

Yes, he's talking about "user experience" and playfulness specifically in the context of the design of digital services like Twitter and Flickr.

He defines playfulness in the user experience "...as those elements of a digital design that engage people’s attention or involve them in an activity for recreation, amusement, or creative enjoyment."

"Creative enjoyment." The lad's a definite phrase-turner.

In his article he lists four handy criteria for measuring playability:
  • lots of small rewards and positive feedback for taking action
  • no negative consequences for experimentation
  • the ability to take someone else’s work and build on it
and my favorite:
  • frivolous interaction
"Facebook," he exemplifies, "has perfected digital social interaction for no good reason other than pure fun. All playful applications should have a component of interactive silliness."

Bless his perceptive heart: Creative enjoyment. Frivolous interaction. Interactive silliness. How else could one explain the forces that draw us here to find each other?

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Siftables are "...cookie-sized computers with motion sensing, neighbor detection, graphical display, and wireless communication. They act in concert to form a single interface: users physically manipulate them - piling, grouping, sorting - to interact with digital information and media." They "...enable people to interact with information and media in physical, natural ways that approach interactions with physical objects in our everyday lives."

These toy/computers, developed by David Merrill and Jeevan Kalanithi of the MIT Media Lab, seem like so much fun - just watching people play in this TED talk is almost enough. Since I first saw the TED demonstration, I haven't been able to stop myself from thinking about the depth of this innovation, the games, the fun, the creativity, the learning these little compu-cookies could unleash.

So far, this is my third wave of insight into the computer-enhanced future of fun. The first was when I read Howard Rheingold musing on the interpenetration of technology with the social/physical world in Smart Mobs. The second when I started hearing about Pervasive Games on sites like Ludocity and IPerG, in events like the Hide and Seek Festival and Pac Manhattan and from visionary friends like Celia Pearce.

And now, Siftables.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Defeats the Car

I was in Chicago O'Hare, waiting for a plane. We wanted desperately to call our daughter and couldn't find a pay phone that worked. Can you imagine. So we asked an iPhone-possessing young man if he could let us use his i- for a quick call. He obliged, and after we had finally contacted our daughter, we introduced ourselves.

Jon Lind, it turned out, is involved with a company called Defeats the Car, which, it turns further out, is a Dutch bicycle company named De Fietsfabriek, which kinda sounds like Defeats something. He just happened to have on his iPhone some rather delightful photos of their rather delightful creations. I was more than rather delighted by this bike, in particular. Jon writes: "The headlights...are battery powered LED lights. We went away from using the generator lights as they typically require more maintenance than we want our customers to have to deal with plus they create drag that can slow you down. Our customers are typically young families who want to have an alternative to driving their kids around town for local trips. Their reasons for desiring such a bicycle may come from concerns for the environment, saving on gasoline or avoiding the stresses of driving everywhere and having fun. We also have a large base of customers who get one of our city commuter models and they again have similar motives for getting things done without the dependence on automobile transportation. In addition to the practical purposes for purchasing one of our bicycles many people love the unique designs and styles plus the opportunity to personalize with either their names in the frame...or the sides of the cargo boxes can be used as blank canvasses with limitless opportunities for artistic expression."

Amazing what a chance meeting and a little kindness can lead one to.

Lovely. Fun. Pragmatic. Inspiring.

Consider reading their brochure even.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Home made checkersTake a closer look at this checker set. Nothing but a random collection of bottle tops and a piece of cardboard. And yet, it's checkers, and it's most clearly as playworthy as a checker set should be.

This is the lesson that AfriGadget teaches us, post after post after post: that we can make do. We can make do beautifully.Even without the newest and jiggiest. We can make do. Especially when we have to. Which, given the current state of the world, is something we should strongly consider making part of the basic curriculum, if you know what I mean. Courses in ingenuity and junkwork.

Founded by Erik Hersman, AfriGadget is edited by a team of African bloggers, and was recently selected by Time Magazine as one of the 50 Best Websites of 2008. You'll want to know more about Erik. Here's a recent interview.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Real Big Bopper

Ever play Bop It, Bop It Extreme, or Bop It Extreme 2 even? Heard about Bop-It Download (available in the UK - see also this for more details)?

In that case, you can appreciate the potential playworthiness of a giant playground Bop It.

Called the i.play system, the device purportedly provides "...a great new way to exercise without even realizing that’s what you're doing. You can select single player or multiplayer games, and there is also an option to play at 'base' level which eliminates the high switches. The activity switches have bright LED lights that flash, and switches produce sound so you know which one to go to."

According to the article in Popsci, the "system costs $45,000 installed... All the electronics are powered by a solar panel that comes with the installation. Software updates with new modes and different games are included with any installation. There are currently 30 installed in parks and schools across England."

OK. So maybe it is not so realistic to expect to see such marvels coming soon to your local playground. Maybe things like this will eventually become part of tomorrow's amusement parks or retirement villages or enlightened rehabilitation centers. The point is that technology is leading us to new ways to play, to engaging mind, body, and the other in healthy and healing pursuits. And this is something to celebrate, even now.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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PoweriSers. On the one hand, if you look at their Policy statement, you can not help note how they note:
PoweriSers are safe to use, however we must state that www.powerizerz.com, its affiliates, owner / owners, supplier, or any other organization associated with it will not be held liable for any loss, injury, or death resulting from the use or misuse of PoweriSer / PoweriSers. You are advised to wear protective gear when you use your PoweriSers and you should also be in good health to use them. Use caution and rational judgement when operating the PoweriSers. PoweriSers are not suitable for small children nor are they recommended for children under age 10. Always supervise your children when they use their PoweriSer/PoweriSers. "
On the other, hand, you get a toy that gives you the possibility of whole new ways to play, new games, new sports, new track and field events; you get the opportunity to perform amazing displays of gravity-defying strength and grace, like this:

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Digiwall - Closer We Come, Step-by-Step

Digiwall "...looks like a traditional climbing-wall but it’s actually a computer game you climb upon. Every climbing-hold is equipped with a sensor that registers hands and feet. In that way DigiWall can keep track on where on the wall the climber or climbers are. This opens up for a large number of games, exercises and competitions of various kinds. DigiWall is also a musical instrument."

A computer game you can climb on. The integration of sports and technology, leading inexorably to new opportunities for bringing mind and body, self and other, into play.

Closer we come, step by step.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Shootball "...is a new sport in ubiquitous computing. This game is playing with tangible ball that can control movies displayed in surrounding screens. This game is team sport played between two teams of 3 players each. The object of the game is to score by displaying movies of own team by throwing the ball at surrounding screens."

The confluence of sports and computing has evolutionary potential for both spheres of human activity, for engaging mind and body, for bridging social and geographical boundaries. It is something to watch. Something to encourage. Something to celebrate.

See also this.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Fun with the Sun - Magical Fun

Teen/Nerd writes:
"I love Flickr. The content is amazing and some of the photographers have ability that is other worldly. I was looking for some interesting pictures and I typed in “holding the sun” and below is a sampling of some of the great pictures that came up (sources for the photos are at the end of the posts). Enjoy!"
After you've looked at all the pictures and sent the link to everyone you think might not have seen it already, consider the following:

This is an example of yet another significantly unique taste of fun. Unique and complex, made out of at least two different fun tastes: the taste of fun you have trolling through something like Flickr and thinking up things to look for, like, for example, all the images that have anything to do with "holding the sun" - and then discovering such an amazing collection of images; combined with the taste of fun people had when they took those photos - when they created illusions together. Illusions that could hold the sun.

Seeing as how it combines accident, illusion and technology - how about: "magical fun?"

via the Presurfer

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Orbitwheel: Invented Fun

Orbitwheels - yet another small step for playkind, especially for the kind of players who like to skateboard, and can appreciate the heightened maneuverability, the vast array of potential tricks, the back-pack-fitting portability, and, of course, the opportunity to be the bull of the skating herd.

I found out about the Orbitwheel from one of my more reliable online sources, and someone whom I can actually call a friend - the Presurfer. Following his lead, I Googled around until I found myself at a site called The Inventist, where one can also purchase, for example, the significantly cool-looking AquaSkipper that allows you to bounce your way across the water- that's right, bounce; the Stepster, demonstrating how much more you get when you "combine a bicycle, a scooter and a Stairmaster;" and even the Leantisserie - the "world’s first free-standing rotisserie inside an oven."

All of which leads us to the fun flavor of the day: Invented Fun. The flavor of fun you taste when you make something up, something new. Anything new, really. Even, or especially, a free-standing rotisserie. But it is a fun flavor that is exceptionally delicious when the thing you are making up is some new way to have fun.

Invented fun.

Hence, for example, Junkyard Sports.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Ruffles Flyer

Take a look at the airplane this guy made one day at lunch "from the bag that held my potato chips and the toothpick that was in my sandwitch."

Junkyard Model Airplanes

Airplanes, made out of found office junk. Cool-looking airplanes that really fly.

A whole nother Junkyard Sport, don't you think?

via Make Blog

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Liquid Art

Stir together: playfulness, art, science and technology.

The result:

- dances of light and delight.

Click your way to this amazing collection of Liquid Art and Droplet Photography. Be amazed. Be very amazed.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Creating New Forms of Life

Theo Jansen is an artist who is building new forms of life.

He recently explained his universe to participants of the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference. You can watch his presentation here.

I know, I know. It's hard to accept the idea that his walking sculptures are a form of life, for God sake. But, well, listen to what he has to say before jumping to any conclusions. There is something awe-inspiring about his work. Something deeply playful. I found this on the TED site:
"His newest creatures walk without assistance on the beaches of Holland, powered by wind, captured by gossamer wings that flap and pump air into old lemonade bottles that in turn power the creatures' many plastic spindly legs. The walking sculptures look alive as they move, each leg articulating in such a way that the body is steady and level. They even incorporate primitive logic gates that are used to reverse the machine’s direction if it senses dangerous water or loose sand where it might get stuck."
This is fun stuff. Maybe the very stuff of fun. Art, science, vision, and deep, deep playfulness.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Wii for All

"Residents as old as 103 have ditched knitting and bridge after getting hooked on the console," writes Andrew Parker in the Sun Times (UK). He quotes 88 year-young Barrie Edgar: 'It’s great fun. We’ve only had it a few days but we can’t put it down.'"

And the director of the Sunrise Home: "It’s captured everyone’s imagination," she explains. Most residents are in their 80s and 90s. Things have got quite competitive."

The Wii. The International, Intergenerational Wii.

Oui? Whee!

via Boing Boing

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Mes amis, it is with great pleasure that I present to you Jean Yves Blondeau, le Rollerman.

According to this, Blondeau "first conceived of his plastic Buggy Rollin’ suit in 1994, while he was a student at Olivier de Serres design school, in Paris. But the invention, which allows a wearer to top 60 miles per hour while maintaining any position found in the Kama Sutra, didn’t exactly catch fire with consumers. Not one to give up, Blondeau recently refined the suit to a stripped-down 31-wheel version and developed his own playbook of moves, like the Zaphial (rolling flat on your back with all four limbs pointed straight up) and the Smooth Buggy Dog (three limbs on the ground and one rolling along a wall)."

It is for fun, is it not?

via Metafilter, et. al.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Mark Applebaum Sound Sculpture

Mark Applebaum writes about his Sound Sculptures: "The instruments consist of threaded rods, nails, wire strings stretched through a series of pulleys and turnbuckles, plastic combs, bronze braising rod blow-torched and twisted, doorstops, shoehorns, ratchets, steel wheels, springs, lead and PVC pipe, corrugated copper plumbing tube, Astroturf, parts from a Volvo gearbox, a metal Schwinn bicycle logo, and, indeed, mousetraps."

And, in case you wondered, Applebaum appends:

"I play the sound-sculptures with my hands and with a number of different strikers and gadgets including Japanese chopsticks, knitting needles, combs, thimbles, plectrums, surgical tubing, a violin bow, and various wind-up toys, tops, etc. Located in the midst of the sculptures is a mixer and a small rack of electronic signal processors with their associated triggering pedals, mostly junky analog delays, early-era pitch transposers, unnatural reverbs, and the like."

It is to play. With junk. See and hear both.

via Neatorama

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Repurposing the World for Play

Kevin Kelly's blog Street Use is "a solo effort to record the way in which people actually use technology versus how engineers imagined it would be used." Kelly might be familiar to the wiser children of the 60's and 70's because of his involvement with the Whole Earth Catalog. He "launched (and co-edited) the new Whole Earth Catalogs: The Essential Whole Earth Catalog, The Whole Earth Ecolog, the Fringes of Reason, and Signal: a Whole Earth Catalog of Communication Tools."

But, despite his many projects and works of wonders, it is his Street Use blog which hits closest to our shared home, we who engage in repurposing the world for play.


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Rolling Water

The Q Drum - it rolls, you can pull it, kids get the same kind of fun from it that they'd get from a good pull toy, and it can contain 50 liters of deliciously sloshing water.

So in places where women spend half their day just getting water from the well to their village, carrying it in heavy jugs and drums and barrels, here's a simple innovation - a donut-shaped barrel that can be pulled on a rope.

OK, so maybe it's not as fun as pulling a wagon, but it certainly is a lot more fun than having to carry the water, and since it's easy enough for kids to do, it's a lot more fun for them than having to watch their mothers suffer. It's fun to help. Fun to be valuable to the survival of your own village. Fun to walk around with a giant, sloshing pull-toy.

And it's simpler than a pull-toy, more durable. And the inspiration that made this possible, it was like the inspiration that you get from an act of deep playfulness, where you finally arrive at something new, something simple, something that transforms reality, something that changes the world. For good.

via Neatorama

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Social Art

Son-in-law Tom Weidenbach (Director of Education and Exhibits at The Children's Museum, Greenville, SC) used the term "Social Art" to describe the work of Playmotion and Snibbeinteractive. I have written previously about another Social Artist, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. (I love that term "Social Artist," though I think it could be applied to many people. Even a humble designer of Junkyard Sports.)

These pieces are predictors of the future of fun, and these artists are busy creating that very future in museums, on buildings, in public squares. They are providing us with a new premise for play. They distract us from self-consciousness, taking us away from ourselves so we can dance, move, walk around, hold hands, or just, as in the illustration, stand still and watch ourselves take root. They are fun by any measure. They give us a way to meet, to share a moment of wonder, to find ourselves together in a world that is only partly tangible.

Social art. Deep fun.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Dice Stacking, the Internet, fame and fortune

Veteran Dice Stacker Todd Strong was telling me about this hot Dice Stacking YouTube video, posted to follow up on this equally remarkable YouTubed News Story (German). So excited was my self-effacing friend that he almost failed to mention his most remarkable Two Columns in One Cup Dice Stacking YouTube video. Why, I asked, would he be so excited about a YouTube video that wasn't his own, given his own proficiency at said same art. Well, he explained, the success of that particular YouTube video has drawn a veritable flock of folk to his Dice Stacking Site, wherein he makes his Dice Stacking book, video, and paraphernalia available to the Dice Stacking masses. "Ah," I concluded, exclamatorilly, thus: the very fame garnered by one YouTube Dicestacker inures to your benefit. What a gloriously connected world it is when one's person fame leads to an equally deserving person's fortune.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Audience-controlled Games

This was going to be a story about, purportedly, the world's largest Etch-a-Sketch, which, according to this story was "was unveiled at the 33rd SIGGRAPH International Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques Conference and Exhibition in Boston." (click on this image to get the whole picture, as it were, so to speak.)

Me, I wasn't that excited, really, about the world's largest Etch-a-Sketch. I mean, it's attention-grabbing, all right, and it did make me wonder about how it actually works, or how any individual audience member experiences any real control. But, then again, I never experienced that much real control, even when I was using my regular old personal laptop Etch-a-Sketch.

What I was excited about was that an entire audience could play, together, using what looks like plastic lollipops on Popsicle sticks. Wireless lollipops, even.

Turns out that a company called Cinematrix has developed a system that can sense individual input. Granted, input is binary, limited to which side of the stick you show, but with enough ingenuity, you can do a lot with nothing more than binary input. Especially if there's a way for the technology to pick up each individual response - not just determine the average, but take into account each participant's input.

They have a small passel of games, for those who are interested in game passel-gathering. And, yes, they have a significant enough repertoire of polling capabilities to warm the cockles of even a board of director's hearts. Audience-pleasing fun, team-building for the masses, participatory art for the many. All-in-all, a technology most worthy of our collective applause.

Funspotting by Elyon DeKoven

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Play Pump

Forgive me, I needs must enthuse. All that talk about serious games and serious play and here we have someone who has sponsored the epitomical manifestation of purposeful play and functional fun - the Play Pump. As explained in the Frontline special, punfully subtitled " Turning water into child's play:"
"(Trevor) Field then teamed up with an inventor and came up with the 'play pump' -- a children's merry-go-round that pumps clean, safe drinking water from a deep borehole every time the children start to spin. Soup to nuts, the whole operation takes a few hours to install and costs around $7,000. Field's idea proved so inventive, so cost-efficient and so much fun for the kids that World Bank recognized it as one of the best new grassroots ideas."
Yes, and of course yes, the Play Pump is only part of the solution to the rest of the world's crying need for an accessible supply of potable water, and my focusing on the use of a children's playground device doesn't begin to do justice to the seriousness of the problem. But, see, fun is my passion, my purpose. Fun, the kind of fun that is central to human growth, essential to the evolution of the species, is what I'm here for, what I'm working for. And the Play Pump, and the similar "Power Wheel" (which also generates electricity) are the very embodiment of that very thing. And, though I haven't actually played with a Play Pump, it is clear that it embraces everything I ever thought was major about Major Fun. Functional fun. Lasting, liquid laughter. Purposeful play.

suggested by Shael DeKoven Weidenbach, funspotter

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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A Tale in the Desert

"A Tale in the Desert is rare among MMORPGs in that it lacks combat."

What? Lacks combat? A Mass Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, without fighting? And people like it? And it's fun?

Apparently so.

Allow me to continue quoting from the venerated Wikipedia:

"The lack of levels was also a unique feature in past tales, but the most recent tale has seen the addition of a levels system. Players can kill their livestock, go on safari, and most of all engage into politics. The game focuses on building, research and community. Even more uniquely, players are able to have a lasting effect on the world; the game reaches an endpoint, after which a new Telling begins, which bears marks of the Telling before. Players can also create laws (including player bans) and make feature requests. Compared to other online games, there is also a closer to equal ratio of male to female players, and a high level of civility and generosity, as a result of the difference in focus."

Again, what?!? Lasting effect on the world? Player-created laws? Closer to equal ratio of male to female? High level of civility and generosity?

Is there, then, a reason for hope? Is it, therefore, actually likely that there will be more games like this - games that foster communities of players who actually care about each other, and the world they are creating together?

Let us bow our heads, and play.

Funspotting by Noise

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Asphip - Spinning Top Boomerang Bowling

Asphip includes both the Asphip Looper and the Wandering Disks. Both are attempts to introduce objects with different physical properties into traditional ball sports.

Asphip Looper is something like giant tops - you know, those tops that you whip to keep spinning like the kind of tops you'd find a century or millennium ago, only they're special tops, that spin on their bottoms or, actually, tops. And instead of whips you use specially padded bats, and you play on something like a very large, one-sided shuffleboard. Just watch this video and will be both clear and vivid.

The Looper, of course, travels best on the specially smoothed surfaces of an Asphip Court. And, once you have an Asphip Court, you might as well also have a set of Wandering Disks and play a combination of shuffleboard and tic tac toe with pucks on wheels. Pucks on wheels!

It makes you think. What other wonderfully mechanical things do we have that we could have fun with, get involved with, get completely, physically engaged with, make sports out of? New kinds of balls and pucks with new properties that invite play. Not that easy. Not that small of an accomplishment, this Asphip thing. Something actually new. Something to get interested in, very, very interested in.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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A brief history of videogames

This video clip shows the evolution of the use of graphics in computer games since their advent in the late 70s. A lot's changed in 30 years. One thing for sure: games have become a lot more expensive to produce. And another thing to contemplate - they really, for the most part, haven't become that much more fun. Prettier. More details. More story line. More fantasy. But more fun?

Me, I'm thinking along this time that it's not so much about comparing Pong to tennis, as it is about the different kinds of games that have appeared since Pong, like Lemmings and Pin Ball Construction Kit, and my Ricochet game, of course, and Myst...

Funspotting by Games Are Art

from Bernie DeKoven's FunLog


Sports over a Distance

Exertion Interfaces. Think about it. Exertion, as in exerting, as in exercise. Interfaces. Interfaces implies something between, something connecting. Ah. Just like it says:
Exertion Interfaces are a new kind of interfaces that facilitate what can be described as "Sports over a Distance." These interfaces make you tired and sweaty, but also support you in bringing you closer to old friends and help you making new ones. So instead of creating technology that helps you being more productive and work more efficient, this design supports you in making more friends and fights boredom. Welcome to a new future of technology that is fun!
Ah. Sports, don't you see, over a distance.


Because we can.

Because it looks like fun.

Funspotting by Celia Pearce

from Bernie DeKoven's FunLog

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Rehabilitation Games

See, this is what I've been looking for ever since Atari - remember all those controllers? The joystick and then the knobs, two different kinds of knobs, and Trac Ball, and two different kinds of keypads... ? How each felt different, each became a different connection between you and the game?

Remember those arcade machines with all those different kinds of knobs and buttons? That's when I dreamed up my Fitness Arcade, just about then, when I had all those controllers, and people went to the arcades, and I realized how each different controller connected me to a different experience of play. And I said to myself, "Bern," I said, "Bern, we could make exercise fun, we really could, really fun."

And today I find Biometrics Ltd, and learn that the fitness arcade might very well be in the process of becoming the rehabilitation arcade, bringing something fun to healing, something fun, at least.

from Bernie DeKoven's FunLog

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Shoe Play

The Mobius ShoeThe Mobius Shoe from a company called "United Nude," is, as you might have guessed, a shoe, made of one strip, twisted and joined to itself in a most mobius-manner. Why anyone would even think of designing such a shoe becomes a bit more self-evident when one considers other "Nude Shoes" such as the Eamz shoe, the heel of which looks very much like the leg of a chair, and especially the Porn shoe, made of a loop and a strip.

What we have here is evidence of high playfulness, ingenious genius, as one such as I might be all too tempted to say. These are very real shoes, very fashion-sensible, very foot-wearable, and everso obviously fun. Hence "Nude."

funscouting by Everlasting Blort

from Bernie DeKoven's FunLog

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Line Flyer

Ever since I wrote about the playlike joys of Line Rider, I've been looking for more of the same. I am pleased to announce that there is now a minor gaggle of Line Riding experiences available to the play-seeking multitudes, all to be found on one site, eponymously described as: LineFlyer.com.

To wit:
Line Flyer, Jeep Flyer, Line Boarder, Chair Flyer, and, for the more virtually adventuresome, Line Flyer Beta with Undo
Note, if you will, that these are both kinder and gentler rides - that for those who ride the line, there is no death, no failure, and that the worse that can happen is to float off endlessly in space, or to stop moving altogether at all. Play any, and you will discover your Line Riding potential delightfully enhanced. Play all, and you will have spent a significant amount of time virtually amused. Time spent, actually, in quite a scientific inquiry as you hypothesize and test your way to virtual bliss.

from Bernie DeKoven, Funsmith

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Benettonplay! Toybox

OrbitOrbit is one of 6 unusually creative play opportunities offered to us by the unusually creatively playful people at Benetton. Each is an invitation to enlighteningly light-hearted, online play. Each is designed so that you can compose anonymously or record and share your gifts.

If you're a game designer, or some Defender of the Playful trying to bring a little joy to the institutionalized, Benneton offers a welcome resource, and a paradigm of its own for commercially-supported, personally empowering fun.

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Trampline Simon

Trampline Simon? Apparently. One might be tempted to call it "Trampoline Simon." But one would be wrong. One would be especially correct if one were to perceive this as more than a game of Simon played on trampolines, but an experiment in the technologies of play, the junkmasterly art of ad hoc engineering, and a hard-won insight into the nature children's play.
"This is a Simon game played on mini trampolines: the trampolines light up in a pattern, and the player jumps in response...There's lots of different factors when making stuff for kids. For starters they're incredibly rough on things, and they broke a couple of trampline sensors in no time with their wild jumps. I called Jameco to get more 2" lever switches, which are otherwise impossible to get locally, but they were closed for some mysterious holiday. Hmm.... So I put up my "back in 10 minutes" sign and drove to a hardware store to look for a solution. Stovetop grease pans! Perfect! You can see them here mounted all nice and tidy over the sensors to protect them, worked great, and they even have little holes to let me adjust the sensors:"

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A Bicycle Built for Seven

The Conference Bike is probably one of the most inspirational, and perhaps funniest examples of the power of the Human-Technology-Fun (H-T-F) connection. I wrote about it over a year ago (Aug. 22, 2002), and am delighted to learn that it has proven successful enough to spawn the development of two new models.

I quote: "The ConferenceBike is pedalled by 7 riders sitting in a circle, elbow to elbow. One of them steers; the others are free to pedal or not as it glides effortlessly along. The ConferenceBike has a powerful and universial social effect: It induces laughter and lowers inhibitions. After a few minutes riding, total strangers start talking and laughing and end up exchanging phone numbers."

Inventor Eric Staller explains: "We live in an age of mobility and convenience. Our technology, our cars and laptops and cellphones, are insulating us more and more. The ConferenceBike is an antidote, a symbol and a tool for coming together; where the boardroom meets the gym, takes a ride in the park and says YES! to life."

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New Zealand GolfCross

Apparently, once you get rid of all that putting nonsense, the notion that golf balls need to roll clearly becomes obsolete. As we all know, it's not the putt, but the flog after which golf is conversely named. Hence, the invention the oval golf ball and birth of New Zealand GolfCross. A small step for golf, you say. Yes, but a giant step for golfkind.

Burton Silver of New Zealand has taken the flogging part of golf to the next level, inventing not only a new kind of golf ball and a new kind of non-hole-in-the-air and what might very well prove to be whole new game.

It turns out that an oval golf ball is reportedly far more condusive to both not-rolling, and more controllable flogging. According to the official NewZealand GolfCross site, the ovality of the ball allows you to:

1. Hit the ball straight every time.
2. Perform controlled slices and hooks with ease.
3. Adjust the degree of fade or draw you require.
4. Generate backspin — even with a wood or out of the rough.
5. Apply top spin to achieve long low running shots and,
6. if you really want to show off, do double curves and play tunes.

Says Mr. Silver:

“It seems strange and sad to me that we don’t do more to encourage a spirit of innovation in sport. Because inventing new activities and getting people to participate in them is so exciting and stimulating for all concerned. It always leads to new discoveries about our physical and mental capabilities and skills, and it presents us with new challenges, which is surely what sport should be about.

“It’s my belief that the creation of the new in sport is as important as the celebration of the old. That actively experimenting with sport and staging new events challenges human ingenuity and reinvigorates the human spirit and I’d love to think that GolfCross® may in some way act as a kind of catalyst in encouraging us to explore all the other new sporting challenges that are just waiting to be discovered out there.”

Hi ho, Mr. Silver!

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