Ludi Vojago

Spotlight : Essen, the city of Spiel

Some of you may remember the concept of Spotlight : shedding a light on a city I’m planning to set workshops in. So far, I’ve been quite lazy and did only one of them : Innsbruck, the Bridge city !

This may be explained by one simple fact : I wasn’t absolutely sure to go through each city, as long as I didn’t have every structure to host the workshops. Everything could change because in a blink if I had a different opportunity.

And this is exactly what happened.

I was planning to go around Stuttgart, in Germany, right before Munich. But things have changed, and I’m now actually going to Munich first, then to another city in Germany, named Essen. Let’s have a look at this city !

 

SpotlightEssen

 

 

Essen, which may not be one of the best known cities of Germany outside the country, is nonetheless the central part of the Ruhr, which is basically a huge urban area bordered by the Ruhr river (hence the name) and Rhine. 5.3 million people are living in the area, so Essen may play a very central role for quite a lot of people.

 

A01_v_AbsatzelementAkkordeonGross

 

Couchsurfing-wise, 4,183 people currently have a profile marked as living around Essen. Way to go ! I’m going to Munich to Essen, then I’ll go to Innsbruck afterwards.

…Wait. Isn’t that a very ankward trip ? First I’m going from France to the south-east of Germany, then I’m coming back to the north-west, then I’m heading straight to the south ? Does it makes much sense ?

Well…

That’s right, something very special takes place in Essen : the Spiel festival. Spiel means “Game” (and “Play”) in German, a very fit name for what’s simply the largest board games festival in the world.

It takes place from the 16th-19th of October and I will go there to set up some workshops, so I thought it was worth a little change of plans !

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Deux nouveaux ateliers à venir (avec des Mécanicartes imprimées) !

Même sans être encore parti sur les routes, les ateliers vont bon train, avec deux nouveaux ateliers prévus la semaine prochaine ! Vous pouvez les retrouver – comme ce sera la cas pour les prochaine – dans le planificateur d’événements à droite.

Quel est le programme ?

Cette fois, ce soit deux ateliers parisiens qui auront lieu !

Lundi 30 juin, 19h : une “Micro game jam” de jeux de société organisée par le Gamelier. Deux heures de création de jeux de société en équipe puis une heure pendant laquelle les équipes testeront les jeux des uns et des autres. Un événement intéressant en perspective, organisé par un club habitué à ce genre de manifestations et un véritable désir de réunir des concepteurs de jeux de tout poil.

L’événement n’est bien sûr pas réservé aux professionnels du jeu vidéo ! Si vous brûlez d’envie de faire votre premier prototype de jeu de société, c’est l’occasion rêvée ! Alors ne soyez pas timides et venez donc faire un tour : http://www.meetup.com/Gamelier-Paris-meetup-community/events/186838542/

 

Samedi 5 juillet, 16h30 : une Nuit du jeu (de 12h !) est organisée par Le Petit Ney, café littéraire et associatif ! Cette structure bien sympathique rappellera peut-être quelque chose à certains, car c’est ici que j’ai pu faire mon premier atelier dans le cadre de Ludi Vojago !

Une sorte de retour aux sources donc, mais cette fois dans le cadre d’un chouette événement où l’on va tous se retrouver autour du jeu. Beaucoup d’autres activités auront d’ailleurs lieu, comme du test de prototypes de jeux de jeunes auteurs ou des animations de l’association Under Construction.

Les 12h du jeu ont lieu de 14h à 2h du matin. Mon atelier aura lieu de 16h30 à 19h30-20h. Venez nombreux, c’est tout public ! http://lepetitney.fr/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Juin-juillet14.pdf

 

Et tes mécanicartes alors ?

Une première version cartonnée est enfin prête ! Plus solide et plus pratique que la version papier que j’utilisais jusqu’à présent, elle sera parfaitement adaptée aux ateliers à venir, ainsi qu’aux premiers envois pour les contreparties Ulule.

MechanicardsPrinted

 

Cette version, toujours en Français, n’est pas adaptée pour les ateliers autour de l’Europe, mais ce n’est qu’une question de temps avant de pouvoir imprimer une nouvelle version en anglais.

J’en profite pour remercier Laetitia Di Sciascio pour ses précieux conseils et avis ayant permis d’aboutir sur cette nouvelle version, ainsi que Guillaume Hoquet dont les avis m’aideront sans aucun doute à peaufiner la version définitive avec une grande précision !

Games I’ll give to the structures : Wink and Tête de Linotte

The first part of the workshops will be dedicated to playing actual games. I’m trying to achieve several goals :

– Breaking the ice between the attendees, who may not know each other yet;

– Giving attendees references of games themes & mechanisms so they’ll be able to use them afterwards, when creating their own games;

– Creating meaningful links between the players and the structure hosting the workshop : if the structure keeps the game, the players will be able to play it afterwards, then coming back on the site.

This last point can only be successful with some actual games to give. So I looked for interesting games to carry and give, and kindly asked some board games publishers if they could give me 12 games I could leave in structures.

Two publishers agreed and gave me games : Letheia Editions and Flip Flap Editions (which you can find on my Partners page).

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Oh hello.

The 2 games I’ll leave behind me will be Wink and Tête de Linotte. Wink is a fun game where you basically have to wink somebody else to tell him you have a card he’s calling. But if your wink get caught, you lose points. The game is quite international and was taken in India by the association Inter’Lude.

Tête de linotte is a wicked memory game, where you have to memorize different animals of different colors, then give the right answer about a card revealed some time before. More cards are piling up, so the game becomes increasingly difficult. The game is very small, easy to carry and understand !

Workshop report : “Spiders”

I had the opportunity to set up a new workshop with completly different people. So far, I’ve only worked with youngsters; this time the attendees were members of the video game association enthusiasts of my former university (the association being APOIL), so they were already familiar with Game Design.

They also happened to be my friends, so I had to work “professionnally” with people I could hang out with, which isn’t as simple as it sounds.

 

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Length : 2h30

Theme : “Spiders”

Mechanicards : Programming & Movement (mechanisms) – Calculations (skill) – Cubes (material)

They mainly used the theme and the mechanism cards. The calculation card was quickly discarded. The cubes card was used in the beginning but abandoned a bit before the game was prototyped.

 

In this game, you are basically giant spider riders. As spiders are very fast animals, you ahve to give them several orders beforehand so they can analyse them. Each player has a small pawn in an arena, representing the spider rider, and draws cards in two middle piles : “actions” and “movement”. Each turn, players put 5 cards in front of them, then each player reveals the first card and resolve it and so on.

The spiders can bite, sting and even spit venom, granted the player has the “spit” card and the occasion to make its pawn pass through the acid pit in the middle of the arena.

Mechanicards – almost ready to print !

Some of you may have heard of the Mechanicards I’m currently making for Ludi Vojago. To keep it short, it consists in cards describing board games I’ll use during the workshops.

Here's a sample card !

Still in French for now, translation coming soon !

I started those cards a bit more than 1 month ago for the first workshops, and they ended up being quite well received by various people, which made me very happy. Also, some people gave me very useful advice to improve them, both formally and graphically.

Meca_P1

Here’s one of the first versions !

Now, I’m on the way of printing some sets of cards, as you wonderful people helped me to reach more than 2000€ on Ulule ! I will also leave some sets of cards in the structures I’ll work with during my trip.

But reworking them wasn’t actually that easy due to some technical inability ! I used a vector drawing software to design the cards, which at the time sounded like a good idea.

However, what if I wanted to change something on ALL the cards ?

Yeah - I had to change them one by one.

Yeah – I had to change them one by one.

So I obviously had to switch to a publishing software, which I didn’t use that well at the beginning. But it gave me the opportunity to practice a bit. 🙂

You can find the new format on the Mechanicards page. If you have any remark, suggestion, anything… Please feel free to tell me !

Cheers !

Spotlight : Innsbruck, the Bridge Town

And here comes a new category of posts : the Spotlights ! My goal is to share some very basic knowledge I have gathered about the key destinations of the trip.

Obviously, Ludi Vojago is not supposed to take place only in big cities. I am perfectly open to smaller places as long as people are actually interested in playing and creating board games 🙂

But I have to start searching somewhere, and “WHOLE COUNTRIES” is a bit too large. So, after deciding the key points of my itinerary, I’m currently searching places to be hosted around big cities. I take the cities, find out what’s going on there, then search in the smaller towns around, say, a radius of 50kms or something of sorts.

But as I’m considerating passing by those cities, better do some homework about them, right ? I don’t know most of them, so I only gather minimal knowledge meant to be completed (or totally  discarded) by actually going there.

Let’s start with Austria, and the city of Innsbruck !

SpotlightInnsbruck

Innsbruck, actually meaning “The bridge over the Inn River“, is a city close to mountains. By “close”, I actually mean “very very close”.

The city is between München and Verona, two other cities I’m planning to visit. Couchsurfing-wise, 1,974 people currently have a profile marked as living around Innsbruck, which is not bad at all :-).

About games : there’s a café full of board games in the city, the Café Weli. There’s also a video game studio, Still Alive Studios.

Also, the city is quite touristic, and it’s quite easy to see why by looking at some pictures of local buildings.

And finally, some capital information from Wikipedia :

“In 1929, the first official Austrian Chess Championship was held in Innsbruck.”

Way to go !

Being hosted and meeting people : Couchsurfing, my love

On the road, there’s basically three ways to sleep :

* Rent a room in a hostel or whatever;

* “Whatever works” : sleep on the ground, possibly with something (sleeping bag, hamac, tent, sleeping mat…);

* Being gently hosted by people.

 

Each of these solutions have pros and cons. Renting a room somewhere is obviously really comfy and a good way to “charge up batteries”, but often lacks some social contact (although this is not entirely true in hostels) and isn’t free. Sleeping anywhere works wonders in some places and is absolutely free, but you should find a place you feel safe, you need extra effort to wash yourself and it is not always legal.

I’m really a big fan of the people-hosting, mostly because of it’s greatest specificity : you meet people, spend time with complete strangers (who are not strangers for long in most cases !), discover new ways of life as well as points of views about the place you’re staying you couldn’t have obtained otherwise. It is also really heartwarming.

Then, how are you supposed to find somebody willing to host you ? It sometimes happens randomly : some people offered to host me when I was simply strolling around a city or after offering me a lift while I was hitchhiking. You can also ask people in the street, which is something some neat TV shows like J’irai dormir chez vous or Nus et culottés can show.

But then, Internet.

Internet changed a lot of things for a lot of people. One of the most fascinating communities I’ve met so far with Internet is the group of people on the website Couchsurfing.

 

CS_LogoOrange_lowres

The idea is very simple : people create an account on the website, tell some stuff about themselves and say whether or not they can host people in their house/flat/room. Then, they can search for fellow couchsurfers in some place they want to go and send them a message to ask if they could host them for some days.  Thus the term of “Couch Surfing” : it is mainly a “couch-borrowing” website.

Couchsurfing is not only a hosting website however, as people can create groups, various events so travellers and locals can meet up, or even just offer travellers passing by to take a coffee or visit the city.

The entire website & hosting process are entirely free, although it is adviced to bring a little something to your host, may it be a present, a knowledge, a cooking receipe or whatever. But this is usually very natural, as people are usually quite friendly (well, they accept to share their home to begin with). Each surfing experience is very different, depending of the people involved in the surfing exchange.

 

Back to Ludi Vojago. I suppose it is quite clear Couchsurfing is my sleeping way of choice, as well as a way to meet people in the places I’m passing by, may it be players or diverse people curious about my trip. This isn’t meant to be the sole way tho, as I could have to rent a room or sleep on the ground in places with no available Surfers, but I’m quite optimistic about the “hosting” part of the trip.

I also think everybody should give it a shot. I’ve seen really various people on CS : young and old, single and married, grand-parents with little children, big houses with several students… So, why not you ? 🙂

Egotrip : some info about my precedent trips

Ludi Vojago isn’t some sort of silly whim coming out of nowhere : it is a way to combine several fields of interest. Among them : Game Design; Sharing things; Connecting people (no Nokia pun intended, honest). But above all : Travelling.

This concept is quite messy. What IS travelling anyway ? I’m quite sure if you ask this to 10 people, you will have 10 different answers. Travelling may involve driving, tourism, sleeping outside, fishing, struggling, paddling, meeting people, whatever.

I have my own “travelling philosophy”. For me, the destination isn’t as important as the actual trip. “Travelling” means “discovering”, opening my mind to people or situations I may encounter. Travelling also means “destroying” : I will use some means of transportation, use some specific material such as bags and shoes, use Internet to show some parts of my trip and countless things I wouldn’t have done by staying home. This won’t stop me from travelling, but I keep it in mind every time just in case I would ask myself if something is really worthy.

Back to the topic : my travelling experience is guiding me through the preparation of Ludi Vojago. It is not as big as some bigtime travellers walking, biking, hitchhiking and so on all around the world, but I have some interesting stories to share.

Here are some “highlighted” travelling experiences.

2009 – Walking from Paris to Rouen

The first “biggie” is also the one with the most information. If you can read French, you can find some pictures & description on my old travelling blog : HERE and HERE.

Long story short : we were 3 people (Hélène, Amaia and me) walking for about 150km in France, near the Seine river, from the south-suburbs of Paris to Rouen (Normandy). The trip was 1 week long and we slept outside under our tents – hopefully, the weather was absolutely stunning.

We could expect that, so “close” from Paris, the landscapes would be quite urbain. We were wrong. We passed through stunning areas, little villages and a lot of little roads.

We also discovered that people are great. We crossed the road of really interesting people, just by walking around. We were offered to stay in some places, and we even ended up asking for hospitality to a priest in a very rainy evening. He wasn’t even shocked or anything. He just opened up the community hall and left us the key.

Also, we met the grand children of one of our junior high school teachers. 80km from the school. In the middle of a tiny village. Yeah, that happens a lot.

2010 – Biking from Reims to Utrecht

The plan was to bike from Reims to Antwerp with a friend (Amaia, one of the Paris -> Rouen walkers !) then to finish the trip from Antwerp to Utrecht alone, then reach Scherpenzeel to meet up some friends. It ended up pretty well. The trip was something (very roughly… )like this.

The whole trip was a whole different story from the walking tour. Biking is fun and interesting, but also have some drawbacks from walking (I wrote something about it). So, we ended up travelling huge distances while still enjoying the landscape and meeting people during our stops, but had more trouble to find acceptable ways to bike, where we could climb small hills easily while walking.

During my first day alone, I slept in some grassy area. A boy was quite curious about that little tent in the middle of nowhere, and came to say hello. Problem is, he wasn’t speaking English very well, and I didn’t know a word in Dutch, so we had trouble to understand each other. Still, he went away then came back several time to ask me some things, like “Do you need things ?” or “Do you want shower tomorrow ?”, then “My parents are OK if you want come tomorrow shower”. I was, of course, incredibly moved by the infinite kindness of this boy… but I couldn’t manage to find his house the next morning. So I left some little message around the grass, which was a bit pointless I guess.

Little boy, would you read this one day, I want you to know that you lightened up my trip and I can’t thank you enough. Next time, I will write an adress somewhere !!

2011 – Hitchhiking to Finland

I was living in Finland for one semester in 2010. I deeply felt in love with this country and promised myself to come back one day. I kept my promise the year after by hitchhiking there with my best friend Thibault, and a friend of us, Elyse, for the first part of the trip, from Paris to Hamburg.

The trip last 3 weeks – we wend back from Finland to France by plane, as I had some emergency to take care of. We traveled through Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. This time, we were hosted during most of the trip, either via Couchsurfing or friends/family (in Hanover & Stockholm).

I don’t even know where to start with this one. We had so many intense times, we met so many incredible people during the whole trip. So, I’ll rather give some “key advices” from what I’ve seen.

– Hitchhiking in Finland is all right, but very hard in South-Sweden. We may had bad luck, but I’m still wondering why…

– Christiania, in Copenhagen, is a very interesting place. It is also a very bad sign to see armored cops there – my lungs may still have some tear gas somewhere.

– Frankfurt am main is a terrible place to stay during a night only with sleeping bags.

– It is unadvised to hitchhike too close to a Finnish metal festival, because wild, drunk Finnish guys pissing on the road seems to be quite unappealing (but still very friendly).

2012 – The Nowhere event and car-sharing to Hungary

Those two trips were, at the same time, very intense and very conventionnal.

Conventionnal because very organized, involving only car-sharing and quite “comfy” (at least for my standards). Intense because they involved the Nowhere event – the “”European Burning Man””  (the shortcut is a bit rough) – and one day in the Sziget festival in Budapest, one of the largest musical festival in Europe – as well as the magnificent Budapest itself.

The Nowhere is a very enlightning event where a lot of crazy things happen.  We set up a “Tea, Tales & Games” camp with some friends, filled up with board games and, well, tea and tales. We enjoyed being part of this strange community and discover a lot of things, mostly on ourselves. Organizing this trip in the desert was an interesting task and taught me some tricks… mostly about delays :-).

Our trip in Hungary – with Thibault, again – was made interesting by the people travelling with us. We found a car-sharing opportunity on the French website Blablacar, which was uncalled for, and spent some days with four fun and easy-going people.

I stayed one single day in the Sziget festival itself, but it was once again an interesting discovery. Its size is unreal, as well as the amount of people there. The amount of alcohol drunk is also really high and convinced me I was getting fonder of small communities and wild nature, not tremendous parties like this. I went forward in my “travel philosophy building” mission.

2014 – Ludi Vojago

More and more, I wanted to travel for something, to share experiences, bring a little “something” to the numerous people I would meet. And I also spent some years to study Game Design I couldn’t use to travel.

So… here we go. 🙂


PS : You should take a look at http://travelwithamission.org. This community/website is meant to gather travellers willing to share something or even building a better world, and people willing to offer them a public to interact with.

In other words, TWAM is another wonderful use of the Internet and could lead to great partnerships between great people.

Some temporal schedule of the trip

Ludi Vojago has a couple of temporal marks kind of settled :

* The departure date : September 2014

* The length : 6 months

But how long will I stay in each place during those 6 months ? How long would last the workshops ? How can I manage to update the website after the workshops without slowing the trip down ?

I’m still working on these questions, but my first draft can be sum up by one (fancy) schema .

PlanningLV

Basically, I will altern between two types of weeks : the workshop week and the travel week.

The Workshop Week

First day : Installation

Several things have to be done to be able to start the actual workshops. For example meeting people I exchanged e-mails with to get the workshop place (or even finding the actual place). I also may ask some sponsors to send me board games packs (or material packs) by mail, so I would have to grab them before the workshop. I feel more comfortable by taking a whole day to set up “things” for the workshop.

5 days of workshops

“How are the workshops organized ?” is a pretty big question. In fact, it’s such a large topic that I gotta write a whole article on it.But not right now 🙂

Last day : Website update

The point of this day is to write an articleon this blog about the workshop week, as well as archiving the various games made. I will also take some time to answer the diverse messages sent during the week, which may lead me to uncaled places during the following the travel week.

It may also be the “tearful goodbye day” !

The Travel Week

Despite the name, the Travel Week isn’t only dedicated to travelling from point A to point B. It is however part of the job to reach my next workshop place.

I also may have some interesting things to do during this trip, for exemple meeting people eager to create games or attending some gaming events which are not near my workshop place.

Would people suggest me anything interesting on the Internet, this week gives me the opportunity of actually doing it, and not only answering “Yeah, great, but I have no spare time !”.

Where am I going ? – Mingling personal goals and field reality

Yet another tricky question is : where am I going ?

Without further ado, here is the first draft of my planned roadhttp://goo.gl/maps/WA81u. Now, here comes some explainations.

As I don’t have yet any official places to reach (meaning : media libraries, city halls, schools), I am very flexible. Still, I have to start somewhere to have an even remotely idea of the countries in which I would be searching hosts. Three main criteria then comes in :

1) How smoothly my board games workshops would be working;

2) Which countries are connected to each other to make a somehow linear trip;

3) Which places I would like to visit.

1) Workshop easiness !

This criteria is of course way the most important, as I’m definitely not putting my personal pleasure above the project’s goal (meaning : making board games). I guess it would be easier to start the workshops in some countries I would have less trouble creating board games, thus two sub-criteria : language mastery and board games general popularity.

As I basically speak English, French and a little bit German (as a sidenote, I’m also learning Esperanto), France, Belgium and Germany are really interesting. Board games also seem to be quite popular in those countries, hosting several big board games events (Cannes, Essen) and being motherlands of well-known very popular games, like Settlers of Catan, Seven Wonders, Dixit, Abalone and so on.

French creator, French publisher and German award.

The whole goal of Ludi Vojago is to make board games with whoever wants, so every place in the world is a possibility. Still, the odds of running a smooth and easy workshop are higher in France and Germany thanks to languages and board games popularity. Thus, it makes sense to start my trip in those countries as a “warm up”, to acquire extra experience before going in countries with more things to consider.

2) Countries connection !

This is obvious. There is little point in going to Germany THEN Finland THEN Croatia THEN Moldova !

3) Places I would like to visit

This is the “scales tipper” criteria to make choices between similar options. If there’s no reason to go in a particular country or another, then I’d rather go somewhere I want to discover.

I had wonderful opportunities to travel around North-Central Europe those years. By no means do I know everything about those countries of course, but on the other hand I don’t know anything about South-Central Europe. Countries like Slovenia and Croatia got my attention, and I’d really like to go there. Thus the post-München trajectory to the south.