IDMH – 4 – Thom and Rob, first game try, studio.

So have some hats now, gone for the medieval look.


Chris has had a first go at making an area on the floor, which are the sectors though which people pass to get to the final centre of the space, the full incorporation zone.


So maybe taking the magic circle a bit literally but also it reflects my own research and map making in relation to the various levels of engagement in a public artwork.

Perhaps as you play though the game you become more performative and more of an performative artefact. This is first real go at trying to do this as an actual progressive game structure. So it tackles the liminal nature of the circle in a public space by the slow passing though various initiations.

I decided not to play in this time, just so I can get an idea of how it works in the space. I decided to do this all in the studio space for now, and next time go outside and to play it with two pairs or more against each other. So the mechanics/dynamics/elements are they pick one of the handshakes to undertake, from the giffs (need to make this more part of the game). They have have to learn it and perform it in the area. They judge for themselves when they think they have accomplished it sufficiently though I did have to input occasionally to say it wasn’t good enough to proceed. Each round begins with a doffing of the hat.


I wanted to see how this recontexualises the whole thing and gives it purpose outside of the normal handshaking context. It did make it seem more competitive, almost like shaking hands before a tennis match.


I also went for the small achievements, so each said some small achievement or victory they had done. Maybe call it Minor Achievement. I wanted this to give a further personal context to the work. I like the game elements, but think for an artwork, and for this to succeed for me, participants need the space to personalise the activity, to give something of themselves, in exchange for the experience they get. Thom also revealed that the fist bump was bought into fashion because people were worried about germ transmission with handshakes. Is this true?

I am though wondering after doing this, I do want them to learn the moves, but there is no accumulation, or really emergence, there is though recontextualization. So I felt the hat doffing each time did add something, and though trepidation to begin with the small victories helped to give it a biographical structure and by the end got kinda interesting victories, though a bit surreal, like Rob’s discovery of strawberry jam. Is this a victory! I started to come to the idea, watching the first round, that I would swap over the sides with the computer on each round, so that one of the participants each time would be more of the leader.


As I noticed Thom had better access to the screen to begin and this made him lead more. Though as the game progressed, they both went over and hudlled around the screen. I also found that Rob liked to name moves such as superman for arms up, or to give the moves onomatopoeia words, like dink dink donk donk. He said it helped him learn them.



With the giffs, which I see as a game component, I decided that they should just let them run, and not stop them in anyway. This worked better I thought than the last trial, when I used small movie files that I could control and stop and start. Here it seemed the way the giff operated was more gameful with their own rules and with them just twirling around they seemed to have more of a defined structure in the game artwork.

The acquisition of the shake moves did seem to encourage a great deal of teamwork between the two as they sought to decipher how the handshakes were done and undertaken, this was shown in their body language I felt, as they seemed to move closer and be more easy with each other. It did create a bond.


It appeared as it progressed they seemed to get much better and were able to handle the final one competently, so there did appear a learning curve, and the ability to master the shake is a Breakthrough structure, and the mechanic of Mastery is important in game structures.

Afterwards Rob said that he felt he was playing against and with Thom, and that was a strange experience and he wasn’t sure why he felt so competitive.

I found the shakes which required whole body moves the most entertaining to view. Though once more we returned to the idea of accumulation. That in some way it might be a better game.

It was talked through that maybe the concentric rings could each have a part of the body on, and that could relate to the move made. I then thought that that could fit in with the taxonomies, and I could divide the shakes up into different body parts or actions, and one collection could apply to a different body part, which would be associated with one of the circle rings. so it could use the giffs but maybe more as a giff wall, with all visible, and arranged by move or body part. Am I really getting to the bottom of game mechanics. I need to give participants enough of a challenge, but also the space to put themselves in the work. I am thinking, that this game artwork is the most involved and the longest to engage in, it does create conversation and interaction by those in the game. The transference of the handshakes is still a test. But is there any real strategy in this structure. I have never though about strategy before in this research. Is strategy a game Dynamic, or Mechanic?

I need to make more of the choice of shake. To somehow maybe have some kind of image that represents the shak and gives you an idea of what is to come, but not fully describes it. Though this gives the game a single play though mechanic, or changes the dynamics if played again as they are aware of the shake icon. So it is chance, you are choosing but without fully knowing the machanics of what you are choosing. Perhas this is making a strength of the fact you can’t transfer the moves through still images, but you can use a still image as a place holder.

Thom showed me the snail which was interesting. Where you go in for the fist bump and then duck under and go snail! It’s a thing.