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Control Your Space: Creating a Unique Presence at Public Venues

Control Your Space will introduce and unpack kernels of wisdom from museology and theme park design applicable to showing games at festivals, conventions, conferences, or in public spaces. Through anecdotes and observation, I will apply a common trade lexicon to projects I have worked on over the past five years, bearing a message of just how critically important it is to imbue the space you’re given with the theme of the game on the screen, board, or field. While studying media arts and museum practices I developed an interest in themed spaces particularly, old-format augmented reality; one that required the audience to physically enter, and move through. Themed spaces were something Walt Disney had a particular eye for and which invariably informed contemporary museum and theme park designs. Some of his observations and lessons will be covered briefly in the talk. Personal games I’ll examine and deconstruct with the tools I layout include: You Must Be 18 or Older to Enter and its installations at Slamdance and IndieCade and the eCheese Zone at Amaze Berlin and That Party. I will also examine other games and venues that capture audience imaginations through spatial theming like Robin Baumgarten’s Line Wobbler, Corazon Del Sol’s Infinit-O, and Bar SK in Melbourne, Australia. How does somebody go about showing games uniquely? Many of my solutions are DIY (Do It Yourself), often inexpensive, use on-location resources, and typically involve reuse of artifacts from previous installations. In a world of sterile popup banners and laptops on podiums without theming, controlling the space around indie games is crucial to familiarizing the audience with a new experience. Theming gives creators the liminal space back; it allows a potential new fan a more comfortable transition between conference floor and content access. It turns a jarring change into an opportunity for discovery.

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Joe Cox

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