On 26-27.11.2018, the students and the teaching staff of the Studienprojekt “The only game in town? Anthropology and the housing and real estate markets in Berlin” (WiSe18-19, SoSe19-20) meet at the Werkstatt Haus der Statistik for an intensive hackathon, where the approach was to find ways to prototype and develop game ideas, deriving from the ethnographic projects underway.
This workshop was done in cooperation with Miodrag Kuč & Olesia Vitiuk ZK/U) as part of the involvement in the exhibition “Open Form neu denken” (link to our own website’s event, once you have it created)
We created three teams, different from the ones working on ethnographic projects, with all of the Studienprojekt’s teachers actively involved in the development in one of the games. At the end of these days, each of the team needed to develop a workable prototype.
Our inspiration to do this emerged from reading, discussing and putting to work the insights of the Gaming Anthropology Sourcebook, in particular Anastasia Salter’s “Making Board Games in the Classroom”
In preparation for the event, we had agreed on operating with ‘constraints’, hence restricting the possible ranges of ‘topic’ (from the pool of topics of the different projects working on, say, the hosting and use of AirBnB, real estate agents and the documentary work of flat visits, the different attempts at living in public spaces or community-based tiny houses as experimental ways of dealing with the issue of housing shortage, cooperative projects searching to offer alternatives to the regular real estate markets, to name but just a few), ‘game play’ (collaborative, competitive, hybrid), ‘format’ (card, board, performative), and ‘aim’ (pedagogic, activist/political, research-oriented).
As part of the workshop, Sebastian Quack (game designer and curator part of the Invisible Playground network) facilitated a game prototyping workshop. After an open discussion, we settled on the idea that one group would develop a board game, another a card game, and a third one a research-based game, leaving open for all teams the rest of criteria.
Beyond this, all students had agreed on different functions for the day, with students working in both the spatial planning of the room, as well as in charge of buying and preparing food and snacks. Also, team work had functions, all students had agreed to, dividing into Builders (including artists–those working on the looks, and the aesthetic connection with fieldwork materials–, designers–those in charge of creating ideas for the different ‘worlds’ the games were to simulate, mimic or elicit–and craftspeople–those in charge of the material set up of the game, people with hands-on skills) and Bees (the people in charge of buying, providing that all tools and materials were in place, as well as connecting between groups for this)
Besides, the group agreed to document the event, and a video was produced by Adriana Flores Franz (camera) & Vanessa Zallot (film editing), also students in the course.
As a result of the Hackathon, three game prototypes were produced, presented and discussed:
– House of gossip, a board game simulating a staircase where gossips are exchanged, staging dynamics of neighbour resistance to real-estate pressure for a building about to be bought (developed by Joram Grünenberg, Katharina Lotz, Leonie Schipke, Lena Heiß, Svenja Dörflinger, Tan Weigand, and Tomás Criado).
– Sue them all, a card game where players are members of an activist group that helps tenants sue their landlords by facilitating contacts to support persons (lawyers, witnesses, experts, journalists or friends) whilst struggling to make ends meet (developed by Lilian Krischer, Rojîn Bindal, Sophia van Vügt, Tjaša Celan, Vanessa Zallot and Ignacio Farías)
– KiezMindArchiv, an urban exploration game, so as to develop an archive of the urban transformations affecting the Karl Marx Alee, in the surroundings of the Werkstatt Haus de Statistik, with players moving through the district with an open task, connecting the everyday and the unknown. Through the photographic interpretations of players an alternative visual archive of the neighborhood is created (developed by students Diana Mammana, Nora Kronemyer, Kiane Wenneman together with Miodrag Kuč, ZK/U).
Later, these three games would be further re-developed by a group of these students and presented as part of the participation of the Stadtlabor in the exhibition “Open Form neu denken” (link to our own website’s event, once you have it created)
The hackathon closed with an intense and lively discussion on the promises and challenges of the game form as either a field device for ethnographic research, a stage for public discussions and a representational genre for ethnographic work.