Mobile Experiments Group

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The mobile experiments group is a collective of scholars and designers who are part of the Game Changer Chicago (GCC) Design Lab at the University of Chicago. This group meets once a week to brainstorm mobile games and projects. In this setting, we approach games not as finished products but as a medium of thought. The collective, made up of game designers and scientific researchers, faculty and graduate students, approaches concepts through the process of game design. How, we ask, might one approach concepts such as "jealousy," "passing," "code-switching," or "obsession" via a short interactive experience? How might one evoke a thought-provoking atmosphere or set a comedic scene or explore a networked relation through a mobile game? How might games incite learning through an affective, rather than rational, encounter?

The emphasis of this group is on collaborative brainstorming and digital prototypes that are produced in roughly two-week periods. As part of our process, we seek to create a collective rhythm that works for the members of our transdisciplinary group. Each project yields a playable but deliberately unfinished prototype that can be experienced in a short (2-10 minute) play session. In this way, the group moves through an entire development cycle in a short time, and quickly decides on ideas that can be implemented.

Games, here, open up thinking and reflection in a way that departs from linear argumentation or empirical research, even as both of these approaches inform our designs. Some of these prototypes will, eventually, be transformed into polished games. But the focus is on collaborative and experimental thought through experience design and systems building. We take seriously the capacity of art as a form of inquiry that exceeds performance or entertainment. Our game designs are "experimental" processes (rather than merely "innovative" products) that encourage hypothesis testing, reflective uncertainty, and generative failure. We approach "mobility" as a concept that is not limited to the platform of mobile devices but encompasses ephemeral thought, improvisational processing, and locative art.

The group was founded by Dr. Patrick Jagoda and the digital prototypes are developed by James Taylor. The mobile experiments group is hosted by Ci3 at the University of Chicago. Core members of the team include Amanda Dittami, Brandon Hill, Peter McDonald, and Ashlyn Sparrow.

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