It”s been a couple of months since this year”s happened. Now that we”ve stopped worrying if there is enough tea*, we”ve had chance to catch-up on the  and start thinking about what we”ll do in 2013.

*there is definitely enough tea.

Playful pin badges.

It”s useful to think briefly about 2012, though. Learning from previous events, people”s feedback and our own thoughts, we had a few key aims for this year:

  1. Focus on Play.
  2. Excite People.
  3. Broaden Horizons.

Focusing On Play.

A lot of different elements have seeped into Playful over its life-span; most for good, but not all. We felt it was important to strip back to the original focal point – “play” – and not get too bogged down by other things.

Play is a broad concept and has a lot of affordances, allowing us to look at different behaviours, uses, contexts, meanings and approaches. It”s a tool for understanding relationships, how things work and navigating the world. It”s not saying “games”, but games are a key part of it, whether formal or informal.

That”s a hell of a lot to put over in six and a half hours, without getting distracted by other things.

“Planes, by Utku Can (@utku)

Exciting People & Doing It Yourself.

A major reason for our approach this year was seeing lots of people struggling, financially, to do what they were trying to do. The kind of thing that”s seen Glitch sadly close recently. We wanted people to still believe in doing what they”re doing, to be re-excited, refreshed; to go back out with a renewed sense of vigour and some new ideas.

To that end, we wanted to bring the DIY spirit to the fore; sacking off The Man and getting things done on your own steam.

We invited people to talk about , small publishing, digital craft, speculative design, making products outside of the system, and a healthy dose of ScandiCommunism – things that point towards different ways of doing it yourself.

Bikini Kill, Rebel Girl

Broadening Horizons.

Playful has a curatorial role: we”re not just putting businessmen on stage and asking them to hawk products. It”s our job to offer up some unexpected things, new ideas, different perspectives and, you know, give people the chance to think about what they’re doing in a more playful way. We are asking people to talk about things that are interesting to us, relevant and hopefully pointing towards greater trends.

We can”t do that by having same people all the time. We need to bring people and ideas beyond what we can see in front of us, bring in new voices, new brains and take a punt on some potentially raw speakers. One of the most important ways of doing that is actually having diversity on stage.

We have, in the past, struggled to make the line-up more than 25% women. This is a hugely common issue, and something that the majority of conferences fall down badly on. Various reasons are often cited for this: not asking enough women, not trying hard enough, not making it as appealing, not being as accommodating, not knowing enough women, perceived tokenism etc.

Last year”s event felt lopsided. Two female speakers withdrew shortly beforehand (urgent travel, illness) and we only managed to fill those spaces with men. We realised we had a failing in our approach, so decided to do something about it. That was in the form of an open Google Doc calling for women to put themselves forward as a speaker. It wasn”t just for Playful, but to address the issue in general.

That quick solution has now turned into Articulate, a proper project with Caper, aiming at redressing this imbalance across all creative and technology conferences.

It”s really A Good Thing. Please support it and get involved.

Next Year

We will be doing it again. Same place, sometime in late October. Looking forward to finding out what it”s all about again.

See you then.

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