Summer of serious games

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It is time for a summer update, before I take a small Midsummer break from work (and I mean small, just a few days; I don’t have time or need for a longer vacation this year – my passion for my work and business burning a hole in my belly).

From March to the beginning of June I worked mostly with a group of special education children in an afternoon club. This was a new experience for me, and I learned very much about myself and about what children like this need. And of course, getting to know these wonderful kids was a huge privilege. I will miss them. A lot of the observations I made will be very useful when I continue working with serious games.

So, serious games, that is my focus from June and onwards. I have started working on a Literature game with a team of teachers and educators. I also got some experience in recruiting, as I was able to find and lure in the perfect candidate for the technical implementation of the game. The plan is to go with pixel art on this one, and I am looking forwards to creating the graphics and visual feel of this fun project. It will continue on in the Autumn, and the goal is to present a demo in January.

I am also focusing on my own art game, that I received a grant for in March. The image in this post is one of the first background images for this game. The game starts with a stormy ocean… a very symbolic image for me personally. It also represents my emotional life this year. This is something I aim to truly live up to: my art and work living in symbiosis with experiences and emotions in my private life and in the way I experience world events. The working title for the art game is “My Little Light”, and it is about survival on a symbolic level. But the background for the story lies in the harsh reality of the political situation in Europe today – the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding, and that is so disastrously and shamefully dealt with in my part of the world. I will present the project more in depth in August, when I plan to have a demo ready. But I am hoping I will be able to publish the game in many languages, when it is time – English, Swedish, Finnish and Arabic. I am quite nervous about developing this game, because of the political undertones, but I will just have to trust myself and go ahead and do the best I can.

Speaking of a demo: I will be developing the game myself in html/css/javascript, while I attend Boost Turku’s Summer of Programming. I was very happy to be accepted to the study program that is being run by volunteers (I salute you, I am so amazed at people who will give their free time to teach others), and I have already been working my way through the CodeSchool assignments for three weeks. I can really recommend CodeSchool, it is very rewarding to go through the exercises, and you learn new things with ease. So 23rd August we have a demo day, and I will be presenting my game project there. I feel extremely motivated at the moment, and happy to finally learn more about programming. It is definitely something that I will want to develop further in the future in connection to my focus on serious games.

I am also writing on my Master’s thesis in Leadership and Service Design, now with a focus on the three serious game projects I am working on, touching on the areas of art, learning and health. My hope is also to say something about the future of the industry, and of course, securing a place in the industry for myself.

I am also still doing graphic design for books, one project is very soon finished. I am now doing the last rounds of corrections in the script. Hopefully I will get more book design projects in the future also, as it is very rewarding work.

As always: If you have some interesting collaboration ideas for me, or freelance gigs, please get in touch! For example by sending me an e-mail: jennykwiik [at] gmail.com

Currently I am also interested in hearing about social entrepreneurship projects and specifically things that have to do with refugees, asylum seekers or climate and green values…

Unboxing and Making a Kano Computer

Last week I read a blog post at Kuvva blog about Kano – a Computer Kit. You can order it here.

This seemed like exactly the thing I’ve been looking for, both for me and for my kids (who are nine and six years old; we also have a baby, but she’s mostly interested in putting things in her mouth at the moment).

I’ve always been drawn to computers, I used to play with my dad’s old Apple machines in the 80s. But I never had the guts to just open one up and tinker with it. The Kano computer really takes away all fears!

Here’s what the box looked like when we got it.

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The design makes you happy. All day I’ve been seeing bright colors everywhere and felt a warm fuzzy feeling about all things tech.

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Me and my six year old daughter decided to do the unboxing. She immediately started examining the parts.

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Together we started following the very clear instructions in the manual.

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But we had to take a break when we got to the part where you connect the computer to a screen, because big brother was still playing on the PS3, and we had to connect to the TV, since the only other screen we had at home did not work with the HDMI wire.

Also baby needed feeding.

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When we got connected to the TV and got the power running, the magic started. The kids started quarreling a bit over who got to type on the keyboard and follow the instructions on screen (and don’t ask me why my daughter is without her shirt all of a sudden, she tends to do that when we’re at home).

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Baby sister wanted in on the fun too.

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We got everything installed, and the system updated. We even took a peek at the Minecraft app, where you can do programming with Kano blocks and change the Minecraft code. Wonderful!

So this is how far we got today. I loved the whole thing. The nine year old thought the little Judoka fellow who guides you was a bit silly, but I felt the whole design was very fun and friendly. I’ll write a bit more when we get to learning and playing around more with our Kano!