During a week-long world-building workshop, design students from Les Arènes were invited to make the world of N O R M A L S their own, and tasked to role-play as new citizens of this world forging their own community. For this event, we made a custom card game allowing students to play more colorful characters and face all sorts of issues to which they had to respond creatively.
The result is "UTF-404", a new neighborhood in the Culture. Here is an overview of how this workshop went.
- LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK FOR UTF-404
Rules and laws change depending on where you are in the Culture. It is only natural for some frenz to agree together on what can and cannot be done. R_I_K has taken the time to compile what her fellow frenz seemed to agree on as being acceptable, or just plain punishable.
On top of this, she’s created a unique way for her legal framework to be interacted with. Rather than a textual repository, she’s chosen to have augmented organisms called ‘GY-NTs’ glide about in the neighborhood and where relevant — think primitive traffic lights. Each one carries a specific law, or law proposition, can be edited, and even emitted by passersby.
- GAME OF URBAN PLANNING
Gaston is what you might call a gamist. She’s taken on the urban planning of the neighborhood and has done it through a series of games where each frenz has been asked to throw dice, pick numbers, pick symbols… All of which eventually translates into locations and different modules for their homes.
- INTERFACES TO RANDOMNESS
Giorgio_Alabama is one of the rare well trained randomness technician in the Culture. Here, he’s developed a set of open, physical interface templates allowing one to interact with randomness.
3.a. Catalog of GiorgioAlabama’s products.
3.b. The Innocent Hand: once every three years, frenz gather to elect an ‘innocent hand’ — someone trustworthy dedicated to interacting with randomness for important decisions.
3.c. The Hat. An Innocent Hand’s weapon of choice — even they get elected by their predecessors through this template of radical simplicity.
3.d. The Lucky Wheel. These you will find in public here and there, they are meant to quickly solve basic discords among frenz. Its default setting is “where to party next?”.
- UTF-404’S AUGMENTED WARDROBE
by Culcul_La_Praline, Marble_Queen, and Mickey
The neighborhood’s residents are lucky to have such dedicated fashionists. Every frenz here got to be augmented in custom outfits. Well, except it was all done according to a Swag scale, and here ‘Swag’ translates as ‘more stuff around you’. As of today, no one in the whole Culture looks remotely as good as the inhabitants of UTF-404.
4.a. Gallery of augmentations.
4.b. Citizens of UTF-404 on the Swag scale.
4.c. Detail of Marble_Queen’s outfit.
4.d. Detail of Mickey’s outfit.
There once was a frenz named Dalida_Le_Terrible, and a Frenz named Sea-Slug. Sea-Slug was an experimental party architect. Dalida was a stream-based party maker, and was known to stream waaaay too carelessly. So much so, came finally the day he emerged from a long streaming session into another frenz’ body. Not any frenz. It had to be his ultimate party-making nemesis. Enter Dalida_La_Sea-Slug_Terrible.
5.a. Journal. A set of biographical evidences that describes the tumultuous life of these two frenz, and their daily burden of coexistence. The journal features stories, medical facts, Dalida’s plans for creating dead celebrities’ data mashups, as well as a tribute to the now gone James_Plaisir — may the Machine keep his soul at rest. A special part of the journal is dedicated to Sea-Slug’s experiments in vibrational architecture and frequency-modulation therapy.
5.b. Sea-Slug’s ‘BAFFLE2B’. A party dome designed specifically for propagating fine-tuned oscillations with frequencies pinpointing at various desired behaviors, from relaxing mods to HxCPRTYYY ones.
- LAB 404 NOT FOUND
by $@r@h-<3 and Oula-Oula
The Lab 404 is a little revolutionary group with a plan: getting everyone offline. Its founders have created an underground hideout from which they experiment with different means of interfering with frenz’ augmented vision. But for such illegal work to escape the scrutiny of the Machine, they’ve taken the harsh decision of tearing their ‘i’s out — the ‘i’ being every frenz’ AR soft implant — which irrevocably means tearing their actual eyes out. But resourceful as $@r@h-<3 and Oula-Oula are this drastic operation is only one of their well planned ‘phazes’. A success in fact, now resulting in — slightly dumb — clones of theirs placeholding their donor’s spots on UTF’s surface, while serving as vessels for their eyes. The Machine hasn’t noticed.
$@r@h-<3 and Oula-Oula are now experimenting with micro earthquake generators and other vibrational techniques to disrupt the ‘i’s networking capacity. They often gather with party builder Sea-Slug (now Dalida_La_Sea-Slug_Terrible) to get her input on how to fine-tune frequencies.
- ARTIFICIAL WEATHER SYSTEM
UTF-404 could not open to the public with old boring weather systems. Rain, clouds, the sun. Meh. Thankfully Chrome‑a has been taking care of that. Only, having a soft spot for squeaky and puffy and infantilizing things, she’s made her system for children to play with. If you ever come by the neighborhood, do not be surprised if you have to walk through a thick cloud of sugary fluff, or a flowery haze. However if euphoria-inducing confetti start raining on you: RUN! These can be lethal. In any case, here are a few of Chrome‑a’s weather systems:
7.a. Meteobot. Little drones controlled by children that spray all sorts of things into the atmosphere.
7.b. Flatty. Two-dimensional clouds moving cheerfully.
7.c. Blankie. Clouds of cute soft toys (cultural objects representing animals).
7.d. Lighty. Softly glowing rain system augmenting the urban light.
- LA SCKLOλA
Elvis has taken charge of the locale’s education system and she’s done it by applying a very democratic method. Stream-based forms where made for every member of UTF to voice his or her vision of education. Unbeknownst to most, Elvis is an acute antimodist. Meaning: she’ll do the exact opposite of what the pie-charts she’s garnered indicate.
“Regression, repression, observation, oppression” is the motto now. Where frenz asked for a virtual and distributed space of education, they got a centralized monolith. Progressive? Nope. The school is completely backwards, with books and pencils no frenz knows to use anymore. And rather than being put in touch with a whole team of qualified people, education is provided by one, central, and severe figure who spends her time stalking students and keeps tabs on them down to their most compromising habits.
- THE FIGHTING PIT OF RESOLUTION
by Carlos, Legba, and Oppenheimer
No matter the potential for innovation and abstract distractions the Culture offers its inhabitants, some frenz love to look the opposite way. Because they’re that cool, you see. Carlos, Legba, and Oppenheimer are such frenz. And together they’ve decided to let others experience the rawness of olden times by creating a center for conflict resolution between two peers that is all about the barbaric theme. In essence, it’s a fighting pit. One where you enter only to be stripped of your swag points, hell even your clothing.
Once naked, you and your opponent will be given randomly picked digital weapons — these range from magical swords and daggers to sausages and cats.