Playable Media

Description of Collaborative Research Focus Area:

DANM's Playable Media research explores the potential of computational systems for the creation of new media forms that invite and structure play. This group works to understand and create new ways for computer games and related forms to engage audiences, make arguments, tell stories, and shape social space. Ongoing Playable Media work combines game design and artificial intelligence research with writing, art, and media authoring.

This Project Group runs under DANM 250D in Spring and CMPS 280W in Fall and Winter. Beginning in Winter 2011, the project group sequence will run Winter, Spring and Fall quarters.

Current Project Group in Process:

* Spring 2009 - Winter 2010: Game Design

Students will work with Professor Noah Wardrip-Fruin and PhD students doing computational media research in the Computer Science department to develop individual and collaborative projects in multiple areas of playable media, including innovative computer games and digital fictions.

In Spring 2009, students in the Playable Media group will take part in a Playable Media graduate course led by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and cross-listed between DANM and the Computer Science department. This course will bring DANM MFA students together with CS PhD students who are working on research projects to enable new genres in gaming. All students in the course will design a series of prototypes, critique each other's work, and discuss a series of readings and playable media examples.

Over the summer, students will have opportunities to begin project work. This work may take a number of forms. Students may pursue projects they conceived before applying to DANM, individual or collaborative projects conceived in the Playable Media course, or make contributions to ongoing, large-scale projects taking place under the direction of UCSC faculty involved in playable media. Projects may be conducted entirely by UCSC students and faculty or may also involve collaborators at other universities, in the wider field of the arts, and/or in industry.

In the following two academic quarters, project work will continue and come to fruition. As appropriate, students will participate in Wardrip-Fruin's research seminar, research projects with other playable media-related UCSC faculty, lab meetings within the Computer Science department, and other aspects of the diverse intellectual life around these topics at UCSC. Further coursework, workshops, and critique opportunities - from UCSC faculty and visitors - will be arranged based on student interests and project directions.

Upcoming Project Groups:

* Spring 2010 - Winter 2011: Playable Fictions: A Collaborative Project in Playable Media

Full proposal: PDF 84KB

The possibilities of digital media have enabled a blossoming of new models of character, story, and language. From computer games with epic structures to experimental interactive films, digital fictions are providing diverse experiences for a wide range of audiences. From ambitious AI experiments to straightforward uses of weblogs and email, authors are creating digital fictions at a wide range of technical complexity. Within this wide range, some projects focus on the potential of play.

This project group will explore the potential of playable experiences that combine the concerns of fiction (language, character, story), the techniques and research methods of media making and computer science, and the insights of game design.

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