A component of the UnBox 2013 fellowships that made them a bit different and unique was the potential for acquiring additional funding for the fellows to continue their projects. This made the month-long engagement leading up to the festival the initial, proof-of-concept phase in which the top-level ideas were created. In essence, the projects were outlines that the additional funding would allow to be fleshed out.
Over the last few days in Madhya Pradesh, I have been extremely obsessed in capturing Indian culture, colours and history to create different unique worlds inside our game. We went to Sanchi Stupa. It was fascinating to see the architecture of the place. It was an excellent blend of Roman and Kushan (Buddhist) architecture. Every design was a fusion (Indian+Roman). I have compared the one of the structures in Sanchi to that in Edinburgh (at the site, where they tried to create Athens). Excellent!! Isn’t it?
This was another day in another Aryan village. Excellent view. Exotic looking people. I was just absorbing all I saw around me. All these days I have been taking loads of pictures capturing the village view, village house, village people and village colours. It has been an artist’s feast for me.
Okay!! Very confident day, I understood the farmers and led them well (I think). This man is a successful and clever flower cultivator. This image shows his confidence as well as my personal energy level. We must have travelled 130km that day.
Okay!! We went to Sanchi and stayed at a place just below the hill of Sanchi Stupa. First day was quite an experience. I was supposed to lead the interview with the farmers with Misha and I was damn confident about it. Then suddenly something happened. When I heard the farmer speak, I couldn’t understand anything!
Although I kept nodding my head and asked questions, I looked at Misha to translate to her, but didn’t have a word to say. OMG! I had never heard the specific farming terminologies. Haha. Luckily we had a guide from Digital Green whom I listened to for sometime, and slowly got over this challenge. The farmers also understood and seemed to appreciate my efforts to understand them, and eventually helped me as well.
On 26, Jan 2013 | In UnTILL | By Joshua
We have just come back from 5 days in the field … literally. We also got our first sense of train life in India, which was most eye-opening.
We arrived in Sanchi where we stayed for the next 3 nights. We met the representative from Digital Green, who would be our guide for interacting with the framers and local villagers. She was a vital tool in our methodology for extracting the right kind of information from the farmers whilst at the same time helping us tread the line of what is acceptable when discussing the very livelihood’s of the people we wish to convey.
After 3 villages, 20 farmers, 2 video disseminations and some Police questioning of what we were doing with all the camera’s, we felt we had got what we needed with regards to the game.
Okay! So I think we broke the ice yesterday with Rikin yesterday in a meeting. In the process of flooding my inbox with valuable research, I think he is also beginning to understand where we come from. Which is great now because he can put his thoughts more clearly and we understand better. So yes, Misha got her much needed research question and the brief seems to have opened up to beyond teaching farming techniques and to being published on effective platforms beyond Facebook (if one such exists).
Okay! I am still thinking about the visual style. My inbox being flooded with research articles from Rikin now which is great but I am getting a bit confused. In the meanwhile, Misha arrives! Hurray!!!! And phew!!! C’mon our dear researcher, go get it ma’am. My first job now is to give her as much info as possible about the Indian middle class urban attitude (in my opinion). So now I sit with the team and just be sure that they get a clear understanding of my opinion of the target users thinking.
Okay! So whole of last week including this Monday and Tuesday have been very very busy. Lots of research on Digital Green, the target users, Zynga games, successful game mechanics, Wonder village and on and on. Although I still feel like we are still missing out on answering the basic question about how to make the farmers get some kind of benefit, I am beginning to understand the dynamics of making smaller and simpler engaging games for urban crowd.
The unseasonable winter showers yesterday put many obstacles in our way– flooded streets, flooded rickshaws, crowds hovering under every available shelter. We had some showers of our own as we talked through ideas with creative and technical allies Naomi Alderman and colleagues at UnBox and Quicksand. A talk with Gulzar at Digital Green about the process of their field work helped us understand what potential benefit farmers may gain from real life information about them in the game. But we’re really looking forward to asking them ourselves when we go into the field next week. We’re at a juncture now where it’s difficult to make decisions about the game narrative or mechanism without finding out more about their perspective, interests, practices and environment. So it’s a twelve hour train journey to Sanchi and we’re taking monopoly on the iPad!
What are you having for dinner? Do you know where it was grown? How it was grown? I am a grain of masoor dal from Madhya Pradesh, unpolished, no added colour, graded for uniform size sold in Auchun hypermarket. I went on a journey to get here. Let me take you along…
On unTILL our mission is to reconceptualise Digital Green’s online social game Wonder Village. The aim of the game is to build a small community and grow it into a thriving rural township. The aim for digital green making the game was to raise awareness for urban users of marginalised farmers in rural areas. At present the game has 400 monthly users and has created $700 in real finance from players purchasing extra add-ons to advance in the game.
I don’t think Digital Green will mind me saying the game is struggling.
1st Day at work Highlights:
- Met all the Digital Green crew
- Finally got head around what we are doing
- Felt the producer in me surge up
- Instilled in self, confidence and belief we can deliver in time for festival
- The lizard in the office that I swore was a doorstep until it suddenly moved
- Eating first street food … Gotta build that resistance – Here’s hoping tomorrow will be ok
- Pushing through the jet lag
First day – Orientation Highlights:
- Second High Commission I have visited in my life – I’m thinking I might become a diplomat one day
- Still Freezing
- Met all the fellows (well most)
- Had authentic South Indian food eaten with hands – Some of it nearly went in my mouth
- Met host organisation
- Got all my Indian goodies (sim card / Dongle / Per diems)
- Went to bar atop of revolving beers for free kingfisher beers… Happy Dayze
Joshua Oliver here from the unTILL project – writing in retrospect as festival blog only just active now
Arrival Day Highlights:
- Arrived in India – exactly a month after applying to come here – bonkers
- The Oh Shit I just landed in India welcome pack I received from unBOX – Most appreciated
- It’s Freezing… I mean effing freezing – Colder than England – What the fudge is that all about