Three years ago, not long after Mandy Tang started at Proboscis, we came up with an idea to use the StoryCubes and bookleteer to inspire people to play and invent their own games. We were inspired ourselves by the Love Outdoor Play campaign, which aims to encourage children, and their parents, to play outside more. Over about six months Mandy developed Outside The Box as a side-project within the studio, devising the three games with help from the team and illustrating all the resulting cubes. We frequently got together to test out the game ideas, as well as with friends and eventually with a group of children on a YMCA play scheme. But as the studio got stuck into several large projects, we didn’t get round to completing the whole package until recently.
The result is Outside The Box – a “game engine for your imagination” – designed to inspire you to improvise and play your own games on your own or with others, indoors or outside. It’s made up of 27 cubes, 3 layers of 9 cubes, each layer being a distinct game : Animal Match, Mission Improbable and StoryMaker. Outside The Box has no rules, nothing to win or lose, the cubes simply provide a framework for you to imagine and make up your own games. You can browse through the whole OTB collection of cubes and books on bookleteer, to download and make up at home.
However, 27 large PlayCubes and 7 books is a lot to make yourself, so we’re now planning to manufacture a “first edition” to get them into people’s hands to find out what they do with them. To achieve this we’re running a kickstarter campaign to raise funds – support the project to get your own set in time for Christmas or choose other rewards.
Animal Match starts out as a puzzle – match up the animal halves to complete the pattern. From there you can make it much more fun : mix the cubes up to invent strange creatures; what would you call them? What would they sound like? How might they move?
Mission Improbable is for role-playing. There are 6 characters: Adventurer, Detective, Scientist, Spy, Storyteller and Superhero, each with 9 tasks. Use them to invent your own games, record your successes in the mission log books or take it to another level by designing your own costumes and props.
StoryMaker incites the telling of fantastical tales : Roll the 3 control cubes to decide how to tell your story, what kind it should be and where to set it. Then use the word cubes as your cue to invent a story on the spot.
Hi all! We had our first play test for Outside The Box yesterday with the children who were taking part in the play scheme with the YMCA of Central London. We went with them to Lambourne End Centre for Outdoor Learning, where the children will get to take part in various activities including a chance to have a go with the play sets.
Upon arrival I was engulfed by the surrounding greenery, the centre was huge! 54 acres of land; open fields with animals grazing on the grass and various adventure activities built and scattered across the vast fields.
As we walked through the reception area to catch up with the children who were currently having lunch. My attention was immediately swept away from a beautiful blond haired horse which trotted passed; a small carriage trailing behind it with children gleefully cheering as they enjoyed the ride, “I want to go on that” was all I could think of after that.
After lunch the children were split into two groups and thus it was time to set the cubes free onto the grass and just see what happens.
The curious children watched and questioned as Giles placed the play set on the grass, they began picking them up and marvelled at the different drawings and asked who drew them – I felt proud and happy that they really liked them. They’ve ask me how did I draw the images to which I explained very briefly the process.
Then the blank cubes had become like gold, they all became immersed in the idea of making their own cubes and swarmed around trying to overcome the challenge of assembling a cube and immediately attacking the art box soon after. Frantically scooping PVA glue over the grass and dribbling it across each other, they busied away crafting their masterpiece.
There was one girl however, who was more determined to solve the animal set. At first when she couldn’t work it out she claimed the cubes were wrong, so I nudged and gave a clue to which she immediately thought “Ah! so it can also go this way!” she shuffled the cubes and tried again. Eventually she solved the puzzle and huffed “that was hard”.
Then the groups switched over, a trio sprinted across the field and sat down to make a cube. They then began playing with the storytelling set. At first they only picked one word from each face of the cube – which made their stories one sentence long, but after suggesting that they can use all the words from each face, their stories became longer.
One of the girls used the words in order shown, another used the genre cube – but instead of rolling it she preferred to choose the face that she liked and did the same with the word cubes. They competed with each other to tell the best story and started shouting to drown out each other’s story!
(If you would like to listen to some of their funny stories, click on the links below)
Finally the groups reunited to go see the farm animals, indicating the end of the first play testing session. Overall it was a great opportunity to be able to play test with children in a outdoor setting, it gave me an idea of what needs changing and how to set up the next play test. It would have been better to be able to get more children to play with them and to also get some of the boys to give it a go for a fair play test, instead of taking one look at it and tossing it aside for football. I thank the Central YMCA for this opportunity and look forward to more visits in hope that children will like Outside The Box. As for the golden horse that kept trotting passed me numerous times and swaying it’s golden mane as if taunting me…one day..one day..*shakes fists*.
At the beginning this year I started planning how we could begin to introduce bookleteer into education and learning contexts and programmes – not just in formal settings such as schools, colleges and universities, but also in other spaces and places where learning takes place : museums, community centres, libraries, archives and grassroots groups.
We began this journey with a Pitch Up & Publish workshop in February co-hosted by former teacher, writer and digital evangelist at TeachersTV, Kati Rynne which was aimed at teachers and creative people who work in education settings. Among the participants who took part was Ruth from Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination who have ended up creating around a dozen eBooks for workshops and projects they’ve been running with people of all age groups. Others have also used bookleteer in their own projects and for creating teaching and learning outcomes – workbooks, notebooks, documentation and course materials – and not just in English, but Hindi and Arabic so far too.
Our own City As Material event series has also outlined a simple model to bring a group of people together to explore an idea, place or theme and then collaboratively produce eBooks (you can follow the development of the series over at diffusion.org.uk). In these events we’ve shared lots of local knowledge and experience within the group of participants, and found creative ways to share and explore themes of common interest with other people. Its very much in the informal/non-formal learning space (one of the participants was Fred Garnett, a former policy advisor at Becta who’s written on and worked extensively in this area) and I think it suggests exciting ways in which hyper-local groups can come together to explore or pool knowledge and experience, capture and share it in a rapid and very easy way not only among themselves but with wider communities too.
More recently we’ve been joined by Education Assistant, Christina Wanambwa, on a 6-month placement whose role is to help extend and focus our efforts on working both in formal and informal learning. We’ve begun a collaboration with Soho Parish Primary School, where she’ll be spending 1 day a week from January til Easter – helping both teachers and students use bookleteer to create tangible outcomes from curriculum based projects. We’re also using this project to understand more about the specific needs of schools in using online platforms like bookleteer; potentially to build a separate schools version that suits the context of authoring and sharing by children and the need for oversight by staff around issues such as child protection.
Christina’s also begun a research and outreach project visiting other kinds of learning environments to see how bookleteer could be weaved into their existing education programmes to add value and fun. She’ll be publishing an eBook of ideas relating to each place she visits over the coming months, as well as posting about her research on the bookleteer blog. Her first post discusses a recent visit to the Museum of Childhood (download the eBook).
bookleteer is about helping people make and share beautiful publications of their own – whether they handmake the results or choose the PPOD professional printing service. We want to help people find new and dynamic ways to record and share the ideas, stories, knowledge and experiences they have – learning and exchanging things of value as they go. bookleteer has enormous potential to enable people to make and share things of their own, books and storycubes; things which they can share with people all around the world, without the problem of shipping physical objects. Hand-written eBooks can be scanned in and made available online in the same way as ‘born digital’ ones and can also be turned into professionally printed books too.
We’d love to hear from other people in education and learning contexts who see the potential of using bookleteer in their own work and play, want to try it out and share their ideas, experiences and templates with others. We’d like to see bookleteer evolve into more than just a tool – into a community of practitioners creating and sharing across many languages, geographies, interests and outcomes. In the new year we’ll be launching new functionality which will open it up even further. Watch this space.
Hello, Haz here. I’ve been asked by Giles and Alice to write about my first impressions of Proboscis and my experience of working here as a Creative Assistant for the last fortnight, under the Future Job Funds placement scheme. I was fortunate enough to get a placement just as the scheme was ending, and it’s a welcome opportunity after an otherwise unproductive year for me, an opportunity where creativity is a crucial part of my role, and something to be celebrated, rather than suppressed, as in previous job experiences.
As would be the case for many other young people in Future Job Fund placements like this, I have no prior education or experience in the arts, only a recreational passion. Any initial trepidation has been eased by the focus on existing strengths and interests (for me, literary) and a comfortable, relaxed environment to get familiar with Bookleteer, by creating eBooks and StoryCubes of my own. The studio, and the surrounding architecture of Clerkenwell, with its rich history, is inspiring. This was the basis for my first StoryCube, a simple photocube of historic buildings. Simple, because my initial idea, a 3D model of Smithfield market made using multiple StoryCubes, was a tad too ambitious for my first attempt, alas.
My eBook was a very slight portfolio of poems, which led me to start thinking about how Bookleteer could be a useful tool when creating zines (small circulation publications) and inspiring people to create their own through its simplicity. I’ll be exploring this during my time at Proboscis and sharing any interesting ideas and creations I’ve found from the zine scene on the Bookleteer blog, hopefully even attending some zine fair’s with a on-site Bookleteer workshop and writing about the experience.
Articulating Futures was a 4 day workshop held at Chinmaya Mission Vidyalaya in New Delhi between the 17th – 20th November, 2009. As a collaboration between narrative designer Niharika Hariharan and Proboscis, the workshop investigated how through innovative thinking young students could be mobilized to voice issues that are important to them.
I had the opportunity of working as an intern and project assistant at Proboscis while I was pursuing my Masters at Central Saint Martins, London in 2008-09. Needless to say, the experience at Proboscis was invaluable, giving me important insights into the various processes of design thinking as well as management.
On completing my course, Proboscis offered me a professional development commission. The commission is granted to emerging young artists and designers to help them kick start a project of their own interest giving them an opportunity to showcase their capabilities to the ‘real world’.
Giles Lane and the Proboscis team worked with me through the entire process of my project Articulating Futures right from ideation up until the execution. Proboscis was an important member of the think tank that helped shape this commissioned project. They not only provided me with the required materials to execute the project but also a platform to share and discuss my work with creative practitioners at a global level.
Articulating Futures has been an extremely satisfying project to me as a designer and a thinker. It has allowed me to explore and share my ideas as an emerging professional in the field of art and design. And finally, it has given me the confidence to further pursue, lead and manage projects and ideas. Needless to say these are all desired and necessary skills for a future creative practitioner working in the industry.
Post the completion of my education in London, this Professional Development Commission by Proboscis was an ideal platform for me to progress towards a career in the field of art and design.
We have been working on Ears to the Ground for around 3 months now and the phase of being out there talking to people and doing activities is almost over with our energy now being focused into how to condense over 200 voices and quotes into a small publication. We’ve been roving around Hertfordshire meeting young and old, talking to them in groups, in their homes, at events. As well as the many people and groups we have met we have; set up a stall in Watford Market to talk to market goers, set up outside Broxbourne Station to speak to commuters, set up a map outside Stevenage Job Centre and annotated it with post it notes of comments from Centre users and ran a drawing workshop with a youth group. We’ve taken our anarchaeology approach of using informal and creative approaches to excavate layers of meaning and understanding. I’ve enjoyed all the people we met who have been so generous, and as I go through the hours of recorded audio two of my favourite quotes so far have been from the Meriden Comunity Centre Community Bar on the Meriden estate in north Watford, and the list of what young people saw around their Neighbourhood in the Chells area of Stevenage.
In the Meriden community bar we asked: How long have you been here?
1962 I moved onto this estate.
I was going to say half past seven.
I’ve been a member of this club for years since it first opened.
I’ve been here so long I’ve worn a hole in the carpet.
You certainly don’t get any trouble in here fighting or all that, its just all mates really I suppose
Like a big extended family
We come down here to insult each other
Don’t know what we’d do without it, we’d sit indoors and watch telly.
We’re all living round here so we don’t need to drive.
The atmosphere, you know, you come in and you know you’re not going to get into any trouble.
And in Chells Manor Community Center we went for a walk with the youth group and after making a large drawing we asked: What did you see and draw?
I saw a fox
I saw the pub, shops, chip shop
I saw, a cat , a man smoking
I saw a tree and a road and an aeroplane
I saw a red flower, a broken glass
I saw myself
I saw a load of people at the youth club
I saw my house
apparently we saw a train going up a tree
I never saw two men shooting each other
I saw darren
I saw houses, dogs,
I saw the green, football, cricket, cycling down fairlands
The book will be published in December.
A film made by Sutton Youth group about the qualities that make up Sutton-in-the-Isle, a village in the Fens. Using cut up paper and some pretty low tech processes and a lot of laughing, this was made in under two hours one evening.
Collecting, Curating and Communicating Culture
Proboscis co-designed (with Andrew Hunter of Render) a studio/seminar course introducing 3rd & 4th year undergraduate and post-graduate students to contemporary approaches to collecting and curating through learning by doing. Students were introduced to techniques (anarchaeology, public authoring) and tools (Diffusion eBooks, StoryCubes, podcasting) used and developed by Proboscis. The goal of the course was to work both individually and collectively in excavating narratives of people, places, events and artefacts and creating new artefacts (using new and old media tools).
Render continued its collaboration with Proboscis on the Anarchaeology programme in May-July 2008, running a lab out of the Artery Gallery in downtown Kitchener. As part of this Render hosted a workshop with Collision, a group of students from Preston Highschool who have formed an independent collective to initiate and create performative art projects. Collision is mentored by artist and teacher Kyle Brown. For the May 17 workshop, Collision became selected buildings in downtown Kitchener and then ventured out into the street to engage the public.
Team: Alice Angus, Giles Lane & Orlagh Woods
Partner: Render at University of Waterloo (Andrew Hunter, Barbara Hobot & Amos Latteier)
Funded by the J.W. Graham Trust