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Play Is Everywhere

I spent the weekend at Freeplay Independent Games Festival here in Melbourne. I wasn't at my most interactive that's for sure, but did sit quietly and listen to a lot of great speakers. I'm still turning it all over in my head.

Others will probably write about more specific ideas from the various sessions. As usual, I'm going to write about a more individual experience.

I wasn't too sure what I might get out of Freeplay, given that I enjoy playing and writing about games, but have never been interested in making them myself. I expected some new ideas to think about, possibly also a bit more insight into the development process.

I didn't quite expect the level of passion and inspiration. I also didn't expect to start making connections in my mind to my day job, and where there might one day be great synergies. I keep different aspects of my life fairly fragmented, so crossovers come as a surprise.

I work in ecology. Urban ecology, to be more specific. As the people who give a damn about biodiversity in urban areas we spend a lot of time trying to work with competing land uses and perceptions of value.

The theme of Freeplay this year was "Play is Everywhere" and there was quite a bit of discussion of Augmented Reality. A lot of it's fairly conceptual, there are still tech limitations, and no one knows the likely future applications. But when people start talking about how play can be used to alter how people use and perceive spaces around them I can't help but get really excited.

People are usually very concerned with the here and now. I am interested in how to overcome that, and be constantly showing things outside the temporal and spatial boundaries of our perceptions. A lot of information is available, but people are not connecting with it. It almost makes me want to run away and join the AR-circus.

Working in conservation feels like being permanently on the edge of giving up on the world (for me, at least). So, to be faced with so much enthusiasm about the future... yeah, I'm a little bit jealous. It's the first time I've been tempted to be part of all that creative energy.