PETLAB: OPEN HOUSE

PETLab (Prototype Evaluation Teaching and Learning Lab), is a public-interest game design and research laboratory for interactive media and is a collaborative effort between the organization, Games for Change, and the Communication Design and Technology Department at Parsons. The initiative was made possible by a $450,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, as part of the foundation’s digital media and learning initiative established in 2006 to help determine how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize, and participate in civic life.

I have been working in the PETLab research group since December 2007 and have worked on a number of collaborative game-design projects across multiple formats.

The first game I helped design was called "Open House: Living in a Material World" and it was meant to raise awareness about life-cycle issues by forcing game-players to debate aspects of materials in housing. The game was launched at a conference at the Philip Johnson Glass House which was sponsored by the Interface Flor Company and included many notable architects and representatives from companies like IDEO. Players took on the role of residents and community members with varying interests and other players tried to persuade them to select their housing materials for points. The structure of the game produced unexpected results, for example Fossil Fuels were the leading energy source selected for the hypothetical homes, which caused further debate at this conference based on sustainability. The game was also played in a McMansion home that was recently built within site of the Philip Johnson Glass House.

 

Founder and Chairman of the Interface Flor company, Ray Anderson, tries to persuade colleagues into selecting his material. After all the materials for flooring, energy, lighting, walls, and roofs wereselected, they were displayed on the game-board.

 

Conference participants debated the results of the game further. Cameron Sinclair, head of Architecture for Humanity, is the blond one seated on the couch. The PETLab crew in front of the Glass House.