This week saw two BLOC54 meetings, “BLOC54 is a distributed publisher for a group of independent games companies. The games sector in Northern Ireland has undergone immense growth over the last three years but to fully have the impact it deserves, this organisation was formed to provide collaboration opportunities for the studios in Ireland.” The First meeting in Derry hosted in the Business Incubation space NORIBIC and the other in Belfast hosted by Farset Labs, a Makerspace in Weavers Court.
“Farset Labs is a makerspace that provides a hub of creativity, technological innovation and entrepreneurship for local professionals, students and interested hobbyists in Belfast City Centre. In terms of atmosphere, it sits somewhere in the triangle of ‘Incubator’, ‘Research Lab’, and ‘Playground’.”
BLOC54 is a monthly meeting of the growing game development sector in Northern Ireland facilitated by Matt Johnston of Digital Circle. This month’s meet saw 3 presentations by Researchers from the Centre for Media Research and School of Media Film and Journalism, who attended both events to discuss their current work and challenge the usually tech focused events with their research into games and play.
At each event, Media and Play researcher Alan Hook presented “Capture the #fleg, games and contested spaces: ‘what games might change in Northern Ireland'” a meandering through his current research on games for change and pervasive games as a lens for the city. This was a review of an up and coming (postponed) project MYNI, a civic pride and internal tourism game developed for NITB and some musings on how play could help challenge contested spaces in Northern Ireland, resulting in the promotion of a new advertised PhD in the area.
This presentation was followed by Lance Wilson, a recent graduate from the Interactive Media Arts BA (Hons) who presented on Gaming for a Cause, a review of his dissertation project Revulsive on Carriage, a week long Alternate Reality Game designed to promote Health and Safety in the home, and expanded out into projects like Extra Life (Lance hosted the first Northern Irish Extra Life event last year), and Free Rice, amongst other projects that look at gaming as a fun way to help charities and organisations
The final presentation was by one of the Centre for Media Research’s PhD candidates Charles Clements who presented and mediated a debate on “Why Games Shouldn’t be Fun” the first steps into his PhD on Games, Agency and Meaning. This lively debate tried to shift the focus from the vacuous word “fun” and propose that developers should be aiming at meaning in games rather than “designing for fun” drawing on Bogost, Juul and Costakyan.