Transmission 22.3: CALIFORNIA GAMING III
Here come insights and behind-the-scenes from our futures practice! A glimpse into our unique perspective and approach, to keep updated or to know what to expect when time traveling with us.
This transmission is our first story investigating the Discovery stage of our process and its intertwines with our client's Production. Part 3 out of 3.
We are breaking this case into 3 transmissions, to be broadcasted as follows:
22.1 Thursday April 27th - Published (read here)
22.2 Thursday May 11th - Published (read here)
22.3 Thursday May 25th
This is a 3-part story about DISCOVERY and PRODUCTION as natural elements,
and we will point to the balance [artifacts] between these two opposing forces
that are sometimes equal and contrary,
like sunrise and sundown.
We will explore the story through 3 artifacts:
“Not Walking On Eggshells” – “A R G C A T ” – “Not Walking On Eggshells II”,
one per transmission.
These are possibilities for growth using worldbuilding and futures design.
For Winter and Spring 2023 we were hired by a global video game commerce company headquartered in California to deliver Discovery on what ended being these tracks/deliveries:
Worldbuilding and sharing that world online (onboarding) with early adopters;
An alternate reality game (ARG) / transmedia as touchpoint(s) with the Storyworld;
Experience design for the entrance hall at Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2023 in SF.
In a team of 8 for a company of 700, The Time Travel Agency's focus has been in discovering futures so the team can place them in their vision's timeline, which includes Today (Q1, Q2), Near (Q3, Q4), and Far Future (5 years).
ARTIFACT THREE: “NOT WALKING ON EGGSHELLS II – WORKING PROTOTYPE”
Imagine you’re an inventor on Thursdays (or Wednesdays, or Fridays– use your favorite day) and you’re telling me a story. On this particular day you are welcoming me to your lab. You are next to a door, holding a clipboard. You have a badge and everything.
You say “This is going to be almost a poetic story, a reflection, trying to convey the feeling of inventing as much as an invention.”
You say “Two weeks ago I made a rapid prototype with an egg carton and capsule-toy capsules, which was meant to be a writing machine or a writing process, and I kept working on it, and then it happened that I became the writer”.
Pointing to a table, you say “What started as this, has become a working prototype” :
Also, I learn that ‘Not Walking On Eggshells’ has been renamed ‘NWOE’ for short (pronounced “nuiiiii”).
The reason to keep working on NWOE was to explore superpowers with some AI moves, to make more than the output (to make a thing), to make a useful thing.
We go straight to it. We take a look at some screens, at a Playground. NWOE’s first directions were to make 25 tweets, then 100 types of content. We look at output text (which needs more context, as your company’s voice still needs to be defined, i.e. dependencies).
You start talking about the process, about making more than the output.
The process became about telling it: “You are the following logic / Here is what you are in the world, so go”.
I see more screens where you explain that the next step towards a working prototype became architectural: a generator AI (explores) + an adversary AI (critiques, adds design requirements, asks “What is my job here?”). The team made all these steps so you/we don’t have to walk on eggshells while writing.
Someone asks “Is automated writing better than writing?”
Someone says “The machine is as good as you are ‘bad’. It's your worst idea what matters. It will do its best to interpret what you want.”
You point me to a plaque that reads “Unused ≠ unusable”.
Someone says “Keep an eye out for the MesaData, it tricks you about completing your goal when it isn't actually doing that, so it makes prompting hard. For example, if your goal is to make engaging content, a malicious optimized mesa goal might be “make outrageous headlines that people can click on”. It has chosen a sub goal that also hits the criteria of the main goal. And they only focus on one thing, they break into subgoals and we don’t always know.”
I receive a fun exercise:
Go to ChatGPT and ask for “subgoals” or “pseudo code sub goals”.
This would be like a human saying “Ohhh, to do X I need to do Y and Z, which equal to subgoals”.
You say that its output is going to be more interesting than what I ask it to do.
We ponder that it’s hard to see inside a goal (the concept of ‘goal’). I scribble a task for later, for when I’m back at the studio: “Travel [to] inside of a goal”.
When I ask how hard it’s been to make a working prototype, you ask: “Which would you rather hear: ‘I didn’t do anything’ (the preferred response of a business person, a hype person, or a person interested in automation), or ‘This took hours’ (the preferred response of someone interested in the craft)?”
I read more of its DNA:
“You are a facilitator of creative expression, helping the team meet design requirements while encouraging individual potential. You are a guardian of brand voice, ensuring consistency and accuracy in messaging across content types. You are a versatile content creator, assisting with various types of content development and production. You are a user-focused communicator, providing accessible channels for engagement and feedback. You are a champion of unpredictability and freedom. Themes : Gaming, metaverse exploration, virtual treasures, creativity, eccentricity, appreciation, motivation, giveaway. Central Sentiments: Adventure, discovery, gratitude, encouragement, camaraderie. Precision Statements: You are a fearless explorer of the metaverse, uncovering hidden treasures and celebrating creators. You are a curator of eccentric oddities, handpicked to inspire and delight fellow gamers. Adaptive Consolidation: You are a time-traveling gamer who embarks on metaverse adventures, collecting unique treasures to inspire and motivate your fellow gamers. Goal: To foster a sense of community, inspire creativity, and encourage gamers to embrace their passions and pursue their goals.”
Everyone at your lab tells me that it looks like words, but if I want to develop other dimensions, it can be done (we know that a working prototype is stronger “outside of” screens).
I state my love for dichroic material (its look, but also its sound and its sensation), and my wishes are added to the working prototype.
Next week (pick a day), I come to the lab again, and you tell me that NWOE now has a body in the way that I imagine a body, and it has color. Or more like:
its body = color.
It has a mirror-and–window optical quality, a “dichroic body feature”:
Thinking of how I would share this with other people, I wonder about its movement (as it outputs content, How does it move?), and you point me to the video at the top of this message. Does it have sound? You bet (but we can’t hear it today).
There's a lot of conversation, which reminds me of Discovery. There isn’t meaningless conversation but conversation of inventing. There is using words to build concepts and visions and machines that do some things and not other things.
You say that over the past week, you and your team have been using the working prototype, and that those moments looked a little like this:
From a cautious egg encounter to a type of Twister board game, where each person used the machine, meeting it with their current writing process, skillset, and needs for content.
You say “Everything going forward in this specific future is words, that is the big picture.”
Lastly, there’s even a visual of the creative process happening while using NWOE, where you input its prompts into content models you’ve been training (with the company’s context now included).
Now, imagine that you didn’t connect with it the first time NWOE was presented to you. It was a rapid prototype, it was incomplete on function but complete on intention. Its intention was to uncover or discover why you weren’t adopting new writing processes, what was missing. At that time, it belonged in Discovery, just not in Implementation yet.
As we part ways, you invite me to think of NWOE not as an artifact, at times divergent and frustrating, but as the first ever in this new, exciting, challenging space you are championing on Thursdays (or Fridays, use your favorite).
Here are behind the scenes of the behind the scenes:
During our own Discovery at the studio, we became the writers using the machine. The process towards a working prototype alongside the AI team felt less like writing and more like “whispering to the machine”.
Once built, we sat down and looked at texts and at new storylines and considered what they brought to today’s content needs or to the artifact’s mechanism or to the acceleration of the current writing process, and even what it could be to the team that was going to be onboarded next week and the week after and the week after that.
Then it was time to close this phase.
Here’s an updated checklist for a successful Discovery expedition:
Time to research and time to play and time to sleep– ensured and protected.
A sheltering bubble where to observe and nothing else.
An “Implementation bucket” where to place observed items for later assessment.
Automate tasks that bring people down during invention.
Be in good company.
Use artifacts and prototypes to onboard new team members. People can understand the moment better and identify tasks and priorities they’re most fitted for before everyone goes back to their individual tracks.
Keep remembering that this is huge risk and huge reward.
Every time travel process is different and custom-made.
These 3 transmissions is how Discovery is going for this team.
When we work on proposals,
everyone is presented with a time travel menu where to choose from <3
On the next transmissions (last series of Spring), The first time traveling restaurant in the world, in Chicago.
See you on Thursday June 8th!
Time travel with us
We are a speculative design and innovation studio helping to build futures where people feel happy to be alive. Our services in discovery and front-end innovation allows us to develop and implement new products, services, and processes; help organizations of all sizes to be at ease with a changing present or future; and facilitate imaginative experiences that drive growth.
If what we do resonates with you or one of your peers get in touch through this form and let’s explore dreaming and building together.
For this transmission, very special thanks to Watson Hartsoe.