Speaker announcement: Curious, horticultural, custard-y and makers.

The wind has changed, bringing a refreshing chill after a summer of damp air and baking flagstones. The leaves are starting to turn the burnt reds of Romance, cloaked in somber hues and new rain. Ah, autumn. Take your coat off, or you won’t feel the benefit.

It’s also the start of the Playful season. When we get filled up on posters, badges and other little bits and pieces that help make the day that little bit nicer for everyone.

BUT most importantly, it’s time to announce a bunch of new people whose brains will be speckling the walls of Conway Hall with their reckons.

Anne Hollowday
Anne works as a Director and Producer for Lonelyleap in Greenwich, as well as making her own short films. The Makers Of Things, Anne’s recent series of beautiful shorts, looks at the things we do and make, specifically the craft and craftspeople of SMEE who spend their life making things by hand — tiny machines, wooden objects and, well, ‘things’. Anne will be sharing stories from this and other projects.

George Buckenham
George “makes games and things” – often silly (Punch The Custard, A Bastard), often hacking existing things (Proteus Frog mod; Sweareoke Guitar Hero mod) and sometimes just straight up, fiendish games (Hell Is Other People, CUBES). George is going to be talking about videogames and their relationship with the hardware.

Marie Foulston
MARIE! Finally. We’ve been trying to get Marie to perform a spiel for a while now. She’s one of our favourite people and a hugely unsung heroine of indie games. For the past couple of years, she – with her Wild Rumpus cohorts – have been leading the charge of physical game parties, in the UK and the US. Marie might riff on horticulture in Animal Crossing. She might not.

Pippin Barr
Pippin is a game designer, artist and critic who has done many wonderful things that you’re probably already too busy cooing over to bother finish reading this. He’s just spent the past month working to create the Digital Marina Abramovich Institute, where visitors can experience exercises designed by Abramovich and view some performance art. He’ll be talking about Curious Games.

BONUS PIPPIN — Playful will also be hosting a hands-on Fireside Chat with Pippin Barr at this year’s Mozilla Festival (26-27 October), which will be looking at putting “openness” into the gaming industry and testing the web as a platform over the weekend event. 

There are now less than 40 tickets remaining, and stocks are diminishing rapidly as people return from summering in the tropics and/or Bridlington. We’ll make sure the tea urn is full of hot water and the biscuits are fully stocked.

That’s it for now, more soon!

Speaker Announcement: materials, data, food, algorithms and mischief.

Hi, halló, wilkommen, hej hej, olá etc

Thanks for joining us on this Very Special Episode. In this episode, Blossom will discover the – no sorry, wrong post. In this Very Special Blog Post, readers will discover a bunch of people who are going to talk at Playful 2013, some idea about what they’re going to talk about and some really important life lessons like Stay In School and Be Yourself.

We are properly excited about everyone that’s coming along so far, and ready to have our minds ripped wide open by the bloody marvellous things they have to say, so let’s get to it.


Jane ní Dhulchaointigh
Jane is an inventor. Not a mad one, not an evil one, just a straight up, classic inventor. She is responsible for creating Sugru – the wonderful rubbery fix-anything material – and, as CEO, has spent the last eight or so years helping people ‘hack things better’.

My bathroom floor would be a much wetter place if it weren’t for Jane, so I’m very pleased to have her talk this year.

Dan Catt
You know Dan, right? Nice guy, big beard. Really big beard. Properly massive beard, down to here? Well, there’s also a brilliant brain behind those long flowing face-locks, one that juggles creative programming with art and stuff that pays the bills – previously for people like Flickr and the Guardian.

He’s going to be talking about trying to make the Most Perfect Snakes & Ladders Board Ever™, which involves lots of things like algorithms, time, and generating thousands and thousands of gameboards.

Ben Reade
Ben is what happens when parents don’t tell you to stop playing with your food. Following roles in various restaurants – including River Cottage in Devon, and as Head Chef of Iglu in Edinburgh – he ended up doing a Bachelor’s thesis on ‘Flavour Exploration and Biotechnology in New Nordic Cuisine’.

Now, as Head of Culinary Research & Development at Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen, Ben’s whole life is about what can happen when you really muck about with food. He will be talking about his experiences and exploring the idea of play as vital to research.

Dani Lurie
Dani wears a couple of hats as Associate Editor of Oh, Comely magazine (an absolutely beautiful thing you should pick up if you get chance) and Head of Creative at Adeline Media. Her main bent, though, is fun. At Oh, Comely, Dani has been practising mischief as a way to create real user engagement and she will be talking about creative, positive mischief.

Stefanie Posavec
Well, what do you say? Stefanie’s been making some of the most beautiful graphics – across book covers, albums, apps and posters – over the past few years. More impressively, she uses data as a material in the creation of these works. She will be talking about her process, inspiration and whatever she wants because she’s ace.

John V Wilshire
John has a strong background in marketing and communications. Before founding Smithery, he managed accounts for global brands at Phd. These days, he plays about with the bits between physical and digital, consulting for large agencies to help them think smarter about how digital campaigns work in the physical world. He also doodles on a lot of Artefact cards. A lot.

He will be using his soothing Scottish brogue to talk about putting things in things and having form in form.


Playful this year will be hosted by one of our favourite people, the Boss of Tate Kids and other not-so-kids, Sharna Jackson.

Sharna is going to keep everyone in line, to time and happy, whilst doing various magic tricks, juggling kittens and reciting poetry about her boat. She hasn’t planned to do any of that, but she is bloody going to have to now.


There are less than ONE HUNDRED tickets left, so just ask yourself “is this something I can really bear to miss?“. Pretty sure the answer is NO, so sort yourself out and lean back, satisfied.

More announcements as they come along, so follow us on twitter.

Bye for now.


Words said. Claps played. Aeroplanes swept. Chairs stacked. Biscuits smuggled. Pints drunk.

That’s Playful over for another year.

We had a very lovely time on Friday, and – if we did our job well – you did too. Our aim was to offer up some unexpected things, new ideas, different perspectives and, you know, give you the chance to think about what you’re doing in a more playful way. Hopefully everyone got something out of the day.

We’d just like to do a final thank you to all the speakers, Josie for compering, the excellent volunteers and our always supportive sponsors.

Bye for now,

Greg & The Mudlark Lot

Hope to see you all next year. In the meantime, you can read some words that people have written off the back of Playful 2012:

Anab Jain — Faerie Stories for the 21st Century
Einar Sneve Martinussen — Means of Production
Annette Mees & Ian Williamson — Making a Talk

Blogs and that:
Wired 1, 2, 3, 4
Liveblog 1, 2, 3, 4
A Cup of Tea with PHD
Kirsten Campbell-Howes
Urustar’s storify
Greg Foster
Em Mathews
James Caig
Dan Williams
Oh Comely
Mary Hamilton

Let us know on twitter or in the comments if you’ve written something and we’ll update the post

One week to go: Running Order & things to know

Ah.  A week to go. The to-do list that sits on my shoulder is slowly being ticked off, meaning that Playful 2012 is getting more and more real. That’s exciting, but always a tiny bit terrifying. For me, hopefully not for you.

Here’s a bunch of stuff to know for Next Friday:




There’s a good amount of you and Conway Hall’s registration area is quite small, so don’t leave it until 09:58 to sign in. Help us all out and get in a bit earlier. There’s coffee and that to soften the blow.




Josie Long — Introduction & welcome

10 — 11

Mark Sorrell, Hide & Seek — Computer Games (Not Video Games)
Anab Jain, Superflux  — Faerie Stories for the 21st Century
Hannah Donovan, This Is My Jam — Digital Craft

Coffee break

11:30 — 12.30
Einar Sneve Martinussen, VOY/ AHO — Means of Production
Siobhan Reddy, Media Molecule — Learnings from New Ideas
Simon Cutts, Coracle — Playing with form

12:30 — 1:40


1:40 — 2:40

Bennett FoddyNo Pain, No Game: Confusion & Frustration in game design
Aron, Rob, Oli (TechsQuad)v.01: sound, animation, interaction, narrative and joysticks
Holly Gramazio, Hide & Seek — Clapping Games

Tea break

3:10 — 4:10

Mint Foundry & Alice Taylor, Makie — Toys With Purpose
Tom Ewing, Brainjuicer — The Thinking Behind Decisions
Annette Mees & Ian Williamson, Coney — Making A Talk

This starts off firm and gets looser as the day goes on. We’ll do our best to keep time in order and get to the pub for half four, but you know what these things can be like — everything is subject to change.




How do I get there?
Conway Hall is at 25, Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4RL. The nearest tube is Holborn, two minutes away.

Do I need to bring anything?
You were sent a PDF ticket when you bought one, have that to hand (as print out or on your phone) and it’ll be fine.  Multiple bookings on the same order get sorted out smoothly, so don’t fret.

You can bring your favourite mug for maximum refreshment satisfaction, otherwise, a pen, a pad and your brain are all you need bring.

I actually can’t make it any more. Can someone use my ticket?
That’s a bit of a bummer. You can pass it on to a friend, or let us know via email or twitter and we’ll try to hook you up with someone who can.

What’s the connectivity/wifi like?
It’s getting better, but still pretty sketchy. All that stuff’s a bit distracting if you’re trying to listen to people anyway.

Do you have an Official Hashtag of the Playful Conference 2012?
Yes, we do. We endorse the use of #playful12 to aggregate your opinions, links and insights garnered from the day across the key social network platforms.


That’s it for now. See you next week, all cheery and forgiving.

Final speakers and OH GOD IT’S ONLY TWO WEEKS AWAY


Here we are, then.

Two weeks to go. Massively sold out. A full speaker list of brilliant people. Badges somewhere on the way to our studio. A pub with money behind the bar (thanks, Sheridans). A bunch of nice volunteers signed up to help everyone have a good day.

We just need to find somewhere to lay our heads and decide which biscuits to spend Ogilvy’s dime on this year. Currently thinking about a mixture of under-rated classics, a sturdy old reliable and maybe one or two lavish ones from the new school. TBC.

Let’s get to know our latest additions that round out the day.


Simon is an artist, poet and all-round fascinating man who has been working in creative publishing since the ’60s. I recently saw a lot of his work, and works published by him under the Coracle banner, at a recent exhibition at Site Gallery (also, our new home). I was enthralled by his playful deconstruction of what a book is, and the processes that created new interpretations of the form. Simon will be talking about playing with form, which will be fantastic and illuminating.


Siobhan is the studio director for MediaMolecule, creators of two of the finest, most creative games ever made — LittleBigPlanet and LittleBigPlanet2. You may have noticed that MM recently announced  Tearaway, a brand new game that pushes the PSVita to its absolute edges and makes handheld gaming creative, essential and bloody mindblowing again. Siobhan will be telling us a bit about Tearaway, but also the creative processes that go into making MediaMolecule amazing.


A few years ago, we did a bad thing. We let the word gamification become a thing that people said. It was said, and it is now said A Lot. It’s short-hand for lazy tossers to try and get people to do things with the promise of a badge at the end of it. It’s the ugly sister of behavioural economics.

So, we’ve invited Tom Ewing from brilliant market research agency, Brainjuicer, to come and talk about Actual Decision Making. From coaxing people to confess cleaning shame with a boardgame, through surveys designed to stress you out, to playing Chinese whispers about new laundry products, Tom will showcase some of Brainjuicer’s game experiments, and put them in the wider context of human decision making and what games do to it.


Our friends at Mint Digital have run a project for the last couple of years giving recent graduates an opportunity to spend three months working on a creative brief to make a real thing. Last year’s intake created Olly — the web connected smelly robot. This year, the brief has been to Make A Toy With Purpose. To make it even more appealing, they’re making a sourdough-based toy. Seriously. So, we’re getting them up on stage to talk about the process and things that they’ve learnt.

We’ve also pulled in the wonderful Alice Taylor from Makie Labs to act as the Letterman to their collective Ollie Reed. Alice is currently doing exceptional things in the toy-space by helping people design their own 3D-printed dolls that are then actually made in the UK. Marvellous.

Tiny bit exciting, eh?

We are totally sold out, but there will be a late flurry of “oh-I-double-booked-myself-anyone-want-my-ticket?” activity, so follow us on Twitter as we will post any ticket opportunities up there.


A splashy speakers update.

Hello, there.

It’s been a lovely couple of weeks, with everyone celebrating all the sports and batshit crazy competitions (Omnium! Tron Fencing! Modern Pentathlon!) of an amazing Olympic games. We’re all sad to see it leave, back to arguing about hobnobs and whether Tom Hardy was doing a Victor Meldrew impression in T’Dark Knight Rises.

To keep our high of good-feeling going, we are excited to fanfare the entrance of a few new speakers waving tiny flags and snapping audience photos on a disposable Kodak camera:

Bennett is as close as you can get to the Two Face of indie games. By day, he is Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director at Oxford University (Ethics of the New Biosciences, since you ask); by night, he is the creator of brilliantly infuriating conceptual games such as QWOP, GIRP and new unicorn fun – CLOP. Games that make you question your ability to actually do anything at all, but laugh all the way through it. Bennett will be talking about how confusion and frustration are core parts of videogame design.

Holly designs games. Big games in big spaces, like parks and the city. Stuff that makes you run around and play daft. She will be talking about the long tradition of clapping games — from high-fives to playgrounds and even snazzy tech-enabled ones. You may even learn how to play one, too.

Anab Jain is founder and director of Superflux, a proper whizzing, forward-facing design practice. Anab will be bringing her thoughts from the interaction end of playfulness to the day, and we look forward to finding out exactly what.

Rob, Aron and Oli are a collection of technicians with mixed  backgrounds in photography, set design, sound engineering, projection and tea drinking. Based inside Derby’s QUAD Art & Film Centre they will be performing a spiel about “v.01″ – a combination of sound, animation, interaction, narrative and joysticks.

We are still cajoling and jostling  some more gems, whom we hope to be able to announce fairly soon too. There’s just a handful of tickets left, so it’s probably worth you putting your mouse on this URL and fulfilling your wishes.

The Pickle That Holds It All Together

Afternoon all and congratulations to every single one of you.

This is a small post to introduce some BIG NEWS that we are pretty excited about, and one or two of you may be bit excited about it too.

Our compere for Playful 2012 will be the most excellent, mirthful and giddy JOSIE LONG.

You may recognise Josie from off of the telly in such things as Charlie Brooker’s You Have Been Watching, and Never Mind The Buzzcocks, or heard her on the wireless on Radio 1, Resonance FM or Absolute Radio. Maybe you’ve even seen her on stage doing what’s she’s best at: telling jokes and making lols appear.

The compere’s job is one of the most under-rated and hard to do. A mixture of good humour, getting names correct and gently hauling people off stage when they’re yammering on about something or other 5 minutes too long — and we think we’ve come up trumps with such an excellent host.

Give Josie a warm welcome, and see you again soon.

2012, then.


We have decided to do it again.

We like you all so much and it’s great fun. We’ll be at the same spot, on the same stage, with the same Very Good For Your Posture chairs, and we’ll be out at the same time, so that the same tango dancers can exercise their joints. If we’re lucky, us Mudlarkers may get to have our morning bacon butties before they go cold.

Playful 2012 will be different though. There will be new faces and new voices, new thoughts and new whims. We’ve put the future to bed, and we’re getting on with the now and the nearly now. There will be genius imparted from good folks, smiles laid upon the faces of all who come, and maybe – just maybe – one or two REALLY good words that lodge in your brain and tickle you into creating something completely brilliant.

We are excited to be back, full of piss and vinegar, ready to put on the best show yet.

To get you in the mood for BUYING SOME OF THE TICKETS WE HAVE FOR SALE, let us introduce you to the first batch of our most excellent speakers:

Hello there, Hannah Donovan.

Han is roundly welcomed by all at Playful, as she is part of the team behind one our favourite things of the past six months: This Is My Jam. Without giving too much away, and because it’s only April, Han may talk about digital craft, but she may not. It doesn’t really matter, because it will be great.

Oh, hi, Einar Sneve Martinussen.

We are delighted to be bringing Einar over from Oslo and the excellent design studio Voy and Oslo School of Architecture and Design. Einar, and Jørn, make lovely things with their hands, actual machinery and consumer electronics. Things like the beautiful Ugle or the drone-wonderful Wind Speaker. A good chance of tales from the forefront of new craft.

Hallo, Annette Mees.

Annette is no stranger to the stage, being co-director of the marvellous experimental theatre bunch at Coney. At Coney, Annette mucks about in a constructive way, creating interactive experiences for theatre-goers and laptop-lovers alike. We are very much looking forward to her doing whatever it is she chooses to do with twenty minutes, a stage and a roomful of open minds.

Finally, for now: Good Afternoon, Mark Sorrell.

Sorrell is that rarest of things: a very tall man. He is VERY tall. And loud. VERY loud. He is hard to ignore, so we decided to put him on stage to have a proper listen to the things he says in his new role as Games Guy at Somethin’ Else. We’re not certain what he’ll be talking about just yet, but if it’s anything like this, then we’ll be properly made up.

That’s it for now, more soon. Get real time updates on the live internet for all the happenings as they’re going on. Use the hashtag of #playful12 (if you’re into that sort of thing) and tell Lanyrd that you’re attending Playful this year.

See you soon.

TL; DR: great speakers, buy tickets, get excited!


Playful is a one-day event all about games and play. The hashtag is #playful11.

The liveblog was looked after by Chris Unitt from Made Media.

* Sami Niemela – We’re All Cyborgs Now
* Georgina Voss – Your game is not my game but your game is ok
* Paul Rissen – Making the Web more Playful
* Chris O’Shea

Blog posts:
* Eva-Lotta Lamm – sketched notes
* Hugh Garry – notes on Storify
* Hubbub – Occupy the future at Playful 2011
* Wired – Playing with reality, the middle-aged future and sadomasochism at Playful 2011
* Dan Williams – notes
* Nicolas Nova – notes
* Dentsu London – notes and sketches
* Mary Hamilton – you don’t need a flying car

Are You ‘Appy Now?

Instead of loads of printed material to hand out on the day (that’s usually out of date by the first Tea Break), we’ve made a little mobile web app for you all.

In it you’ll find the running order, speaker profiles and more.

It means we can change things round on the day and make sure everyone knows what’s going on.

We made it using JQTouch so it should work on iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. It looks and works well on the iPhone, but not on Charles’ HTC thingy.

Go to thisisplayful.com/app on your smartphone and add it to your Home Screen and BAM you’ve got a Playful Programme App on your phone.

We’ll put up that address on the projector at Conway Hall. Maybe with a QR Code. Crikey.