Fracture was an experiment in rapid prototyping, a collaboration with Jonathan Bobrow and members of the MIT Media Lab’s Playful Systems Group. We first met Jonathan and Mike Lazer-Walker at the Harvard Tech Poetics exhibition in 2015, where we were showing eBee, and they were showing Jonathan’s master’s thesis project AutomaTiles. We had a meeting of the minds through our mutual affection for hexagons; when we asked Jonathan how long it might take to collaborate on a game for his platform, he said “I don’t know, we could probably do it in an afternoon.” So this is precisely what we did.
Celia, Jeanie and Isabella when to the Media Lab and sat down with Jonathan, Mike and MIT undergrad Joshua Sloan with the goal of prototyping a game in an afternoon. After spending some time exploring the affordances of the platform, we proposed an adaptation of a field game Celia and Jeanie had been working on entitled DiverCity. The original idea was that a large number of people in an open space would wear different colored building-shaped hats, beginning in segregated groups, with the individual and group goal of moving to a position adjacent to people with different color hats.
For AutomaTiles, this translated into a game in which the goal was to position your tiles such that they were surrounded by the most different colored tiles. As we playtested the first iteration, we discovered the affordance that you could break off a section of the board, including other players’ pieces, to optimize your placement on the board. Thus was born Fracture. The lights blink happily when maximum diversity has been achieved. After creating the initial prototype, Jonathan and his team modified the game to be competitive. We later added a cooperative element so that if both players achieved maximum diversity, it would be considered a double-win.
Dr. Pearce is now an advisor to Move38, the company that Bobrow has formed to produce AutomoTiles.
For more on the game and the system visit: http://automatiles.tumblr.com/
All images and videos used with permission of Jonathan Bobrow.