PICNIC ’09: A Preview

PICNIC 2009Wednesday September 23rd is a day a lot of people in the creative industry have been looking forward to, as tomorrow the fourth installment of PICNIC will kick off in sunny Amsterdam.  Previous incarnations of this intangibly sparkly conference were self-defined as a “crossmedia conference” but this year, the organization of PICNIC didn’t even try to put a tagline on the event.

And I can understand why they didn’t: it’s hard enough to describe what PICNIC is really about, let alone catch its essence in a one-liner. The past three installments were a melting pot of creativity, attended by major and minor names from everywhere in media, art , the digital world and several other industries.

I’m really looking forward to attending again this year and reporting on the event for ARGNet. I just received notice from the people at PICNIC that the conference event is completely sold out, and the lineup of speakers is probably one of the reasons for that. I wanted to give you a short preview of things I’m looking forward to at PICNIC this year:

On paper, the highlight of the first day looks to be “Social Networking meet Social Engineering”, a presentation by Michael B. Johnson from Pixar Studios and Gentry Underwood, a social sciences guru specializing in building collaborative systems. They will be talking about their experience with building tools to help creative people work together and develop concepts. I’ve seen Johnson speak at PICNIC before, and adding Underwood’s novel point of view should prove to be very interesting!

The second day of PICNIC will have a heavy focus on gameplay in a very broad sense. The big name of the day is that of keynote speaker Peter Molyneux, who has been a leading name in the gaming industry for almost 20 years. I’ve been a huge fan of the games he has made in the past such as Populous, Syndicate, Theme Park and Black & White, mostly because they were all highly original when they were released. I’m looking forward to hearing what Molyneux has to say in his talk on Innovation in Entertainment, touching on different aspects of gaming like technology, interaction and content.

Also interesting will be the panel discussion Games that People Play, covering the question “Who’s playing what, where, when and why?” The panel will feature, among others, Six to Start’s Dan Hon.

Then on Friday, the biggest name on the program by far is that of Nicholas Negroponte, co-creator of Wired Magazine, co-founder of MIT Media Lab and founder of the One Laptop Per Child foundation., who will be asked about his view of the world, both digital and analog, by PICNIC host Matt Costello (incidentally, another huge name in the gaming industry).

This and loads of other cool events will be happening at PICNIC this week. I’ll be on the ground trying to report on as much of it as possible for ARGNet, so keep watching this spot!

1 Comment

  1. Georg

    Hi Daniel,

    would be great to talk to you at Picnic.
    We run http://www.gpsmission.com, a platform for user-generated gps games. More and more ARG’s, or parts of it, run on our site like this one: http://bit.ly/oHvFS
    If you have some time and are interested to talk let me know.