The Joystick Arena: Students working with Malmö Symphony Orchestra

Joystick is a concert where Malmö Symphony Orchestra (MSO) plays computer game music. The format is highly popular and well visited, drawing mostly men between the ages of eighteen and forty. The design challenge for the interaction design master students Carlo Luccioni, Chi-heng Peng, Chomphunut Haglund and James McIntyre was to explore how the relationship between MSO and their Joystick audience could be deepened and broadened.

This post summarizes one of the concepts developed during ten weeks of collaborative work between masters students and the cultural institutions in the project Musikalsk Oplevelsesdesign. See an overview of all four concepts here.

Text written by Erling Björgvinsson.

The Joystick Arena - Webpage

An event-based Twitter webpage that will function as a hub and an arena for dialogue between MSO and the Joystick audience.

The concept developed by the students (still image above and YouTube video below) is an event-based Twitter webpage that will function as a hub and an arena for dialogue between MSO and the Joystick audience, and between the Joystick audiences/gamers themselves. The Joystick Arena is divided into three areas pre-play, play-time, and after-play, which correspond to the time beforeduring and after the Joystick concert.

The arena hosts groups that are either created by MSO or by the Joystick audience. A pre-play event could, for example, be that MSO creates a group a few months before the concert where they invite the Joystick audience to suggest what computer game music should be played at the next concert. What two pieces would be played, out of the eight pieces played at the concert, could for example be decided through online voting. Post-play events could, for example, include releasing a high-end sound track of one of the pieces played at the concert that the audience and gamers worldwide could make a music video to.

The Joystick Arena - WorkshopsThe design is grounded in the following insights gained from the field-study, workshops hosted together with MSO and gamers, and through a survey of the field of audience engagement and how gaming communities function and what values drive them:

  • the audience engagement activities offered, such as talks, game activities in the foyer, and the Joystick concert have limited connections;
  • the Joystick audience main interest is not exclusively focused on high artistic standards, but also on a having a good time with friends. The getting together is as important as the concert itself;
  • gamers view computer games as an art form equal to classical music;
  • gamers expect and enjoy cultural expression that includes active participation, which in their definition is more than listening to music;
  • gamers presuppose that cultural expressions can be re-worked and shared;
  • gamers socialize and communicate about gaming experiences through forums and mobile communication services such as Twitter, which is quick and fleeting and as such well suited for communication centered on events.