We insist that the process of organizing CounterPlay must be as open, inclusive and explorative as (we hope) the festival is. This also makes it slightly more unpredictable and chaotic, and just like when we’re playing, we don’t know exactly where we end up. This is not a bug, but a feature; it is entirely by design (also when we sometimes lose control, how can we make anything playful if we control everything?).

We have, once again, had an overwhelming response to our call for proposals with so many wonderful people suggesting the most amazing and playful activities for CounterPlay ’17. We strive to design a program that mirrors the diversity of play, cultivating a diverse community in the process. We are also moving towards ever more playful formats to create an atmosphere, where everybody feels safe enough to risk not being taken seriously when they interact playfully with each other.

In addition to the amazing proposals, we are working with many good people to design activities specifically for the festival, not least for our special focus on playful cities / playful citizens“, where we will host a range of workshops, play sessions and open debate. There will also be a big, open creative space (the cardboard area from CounterPlay ’16). We are inspired by things like “Stupid Hackathon” and “Hebocon crappy robot contest”, so here you can make stupid, silly, useless things out of everything from digital technologies over wood and cardboard to broken toys.

While the schedule is not yet ready, the structure will be similar to that of CounterPlay ’16, so take a look at that program. This means that there will be “plenary sessions” where we all get together, many parallel tracks with workshops and play sessions, dinner on Thursday evening, and Saturday, April 1st, will once more be organized like an “unconference” for discussion and contemplation. Apart from the things we schedule, the festival wants to be hacked, so we expect numerous playful interventions we won’t know about.

For now, take a look at this list of all the activities and people we have confirmed for the festival – with (much) more to come in the beginning of 2017!

Name(s)Title of sessionInstitution(s)Area(s)Description
Alex MoseleyWork at Play at WorkUniversity of LeicesterPlayful WorkingWe might be playful individuals, but we work in often distinctly unplayful organisations. To consider this problem, join me for a board meeting. We'll sit around a table. We'll have an agenda. We'll have slides. None of us will have read the papers in advance. There may or may not be coffee.
Let's see how far down the agenda we get, before someone says "what if we did it like this..."
Anders Dinsen, Jessica IngrassellinoPlayful Software ExplorationPlayful WorkingThe players in the workshop will simulate software testing and exploration, carry out experiments to unleash the power of play, and perform a deep philosophical dive into our personal space of values and attitudes in order to find new ways to think constructively about play and value: Act powerfully and excellently.
Amanda Page, Meg LyonsCreating Transformation through Play Playful Working, Playful LivingYou will discover the magic of possibility when the intention to succeed, progress, and advance is served by a playful approach to coaching. You will help your clients unlock their playful spirit as part of their transformation and growth.
Andrea Flueck von Planta​, Babette Pfander, Bertha Camacho, Nadia von Holzen​Playful Leadership Concertgame@workPlayful WorkingWe explore the power of play with focus on leadership, by providing a platform for experiential learning: An "orchestra" of 10-20 people, and one person designated as the conductor of the orchestra. He/she leads the team in the performing an improvised piece of music. There are only very few rules, the main task is to tap into the possibilities of the group. The experience and insights are explored in a subsequent dialogue.
Annabelle Nielsen, Kenn MunkA Secret World of PlayA Secret ClubPlayful LivingWelcome to our world! It's a place where stories happen and tales are told, a place where you can make almost anything out of almost nothing and a place where you share, not just the glue and scissors, but also your strangest, most amazing thoughts and stories from past and future.
Anthea MoysThe Portrait ExchangePlayful Living, Playful CitiesThe Portrait Exchange is a game that is played between myself and any participant who is willing to sit opposite me and play. I believe everyone can draw! The rules of the game are that we both have to draw each other in one minute without looking down at the page. So we are both at a disadvantage! After the game we sign, date and exchange the portraits. The performance is a wonderful interactive experience that invites people to take a risk, draw, laugh and play. And be part of a growing collection!
Aviaja Borup LynggaardDesigning Games With Children: Designing for Collaborative Play CxD -Child Experience DesignPlayful LearningThis session is twofold: Starting with a talk about co-designing an interactive game together with children, followed up by a collaborative play session, where we will make music and dance choreography within the interactive game that the children came up with.
Bart DurandBlowing giant BubblesMonsieur BartPlayful Living
Ben RossPlay Like Your Life Depends On It… It Does!The Flying RaccoonPlayful Living, Playful WorkingWe will discover that, far from being a distraction, bringing elements of play into the workplace cannot fail to help one achieve one’s objectives. Even more importantly, we will uncover the potential for play to enable workers to bring their whole selves to work, and to reveal the full expression of their humanity.
Christa van Rijn, Grace Holme, Kezi Gardom, Matilde RealPlay It Again: A Reflexive PractitionerPlayful LivingThrough dance, improvisation and games we will explore different aspects of play with our participants, revealing particular facets of its nature and considering experiences of play as condensed pieces of life. The first part of the session considers personal barriers to play and how we might overcome them; the second, how purposeless play can create something unexpected and ‘useful'; the third, the implications of limits and structure in play - whether they hinder or stimulate creativity.
Dan BarnardFinding ForeverfanSHEN Playful Living, Playful CitiesIn Finding Forever, participants are sent out into their environment in teams of three for 2 hours, armed with a smartphone. Their task is to photograph and catalogue the city’s components as the assets of a particular point in the future, and tweet them. The hashtag used in these tweets will link the catalogued items to a map, which participants or interested parties can browse later. Are there particular parts of the city which are geared to our future selves? Do we seem to be more bothered about some of our future-selves than other future-selves? What do participants discover about the way they individually think about the future?
Dom BreadmorePostdigital Play: Conformity, Ubiquity and RulesCoventry UniversityPlayful LivingHow are artists, urbanists and creative technologists leading playful initiatives that promote civic engagement, subversion and active citizenship? How do we tackle the stigma of using play for serious purposes?
Enrique Perez, Klemen Lilja1: Breathing Playground 2: Partygame Players throwdown NightPlayful LivingBreathing is the essence of living, a common action to all human beings. We can choose to be aware of it, but we rarely do. The purpose of this playful activity is to raise awareness about our own breathing and other people’s breathing and use this mechanism as a tool for empathy, to explore our ability to understand and share feelings with people around us.
Gabi LindeCreate Your Cityplayin' siegen & HiddenCampus Playful CitiesIf you live in a city - and you don't just want to accept what's there but want to participate in creating and shaping your city and especially your neighborhood? From creative interventions to urban games and civic participation - you can shape the city you live in.
Helle Marie Skovbjerg”Can I join?” Playful inclusion.Aalborg UniversityPlayful Learning
Hugh ChapmanInter-Charades- CulturalPlayful LivingThis session is based on the parlour game charades where players mime words / phrases / folk sayings / well known references from the arts or popular culture in front of an audience who have to guess the 'answer', exploring the cross-cultural learning/exchange through playing charades.
Jakob la CourUrban Consensus Play - A Playful City ExperienceStudio la CourPlayful CitiesThe hands-on co-creative workshop is targeting adventurous thrill-seekers. It is about changing the perception of the city from ordinary to extraordinary. The city is a playground and participants in the workshop get the know-how to play it. It gives the tools, skills and confidence that will enable the participants to be challenged and enter new modes of city behaviour.
Jana Wendler, Sybille LammesPlayfields – a Playful Methodology for ResearchPlayful LearningThis workshop is based around a prototype mobile app that enables students to employ playful methods in their research. Using elements of playful mapping, learning through design and location-based games, the app unsettles traditional research structures and challenges students to find creative approaches to their research practice and subject. It is versatile in its application and can be used for a range of courses and settings in different disciplines and fields.
Jeff WatsonTechnologies of the Imagination: Games, Context, and CreativityUSC School of Cinematic ArtsPlayful LearningFor artists, rules, either invented or subscribed to—the “games painters play”—liberate more than they constrain: the rigorous meter of a sonnet forces the poet into the discovery of new turns of phrase, and even new ideas; the musical score invites acts of creative interpretation and revision from conductors and players. This facilitated discussion takes as its starting point the notion that places and their explicit and implicit rules of conduct can be thought of as constituting “technologies of the imagination”: systems that limit, activate, or guide creative action.
Jørund Høie Skaug, Kristine Sevik, Lars Gimse, Vibeke Guttormsgaard1: BBC micro:bit Jam 2: Very Silly Local Multiplayer GamesThe Norwegian Centre for ICT in EducationPlayful Learning, Playful Living1: The BBC micro:bit is a entry-level cheap device designed to encourage children to get actively involved in writing software for computers and building new things, rather than being consumers of media. The micro:bit has accelerometer and magnetometer sensors, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, a display consisting of 25 LEDs, and two programmable buttons. What kind of inventions or games can participants make in a couple of hours?

2: We reject the idea of online multiplayers. The only sensible way to do social gaming, is being in the same physical space, and share the experience of being competitive and very silly at the same time.
Kathryn RickettsRemington: a Dance/Theatre Conduit; Inspiring Knowledge Makers and Reflective EnquirersUniversity of ReginaPlayful LearningThis workshop is exploring the range of perspectives and the diversity in approaches of play as a means for emancipatory processes in performance and particularly with my dance/theatre character Remington.
Kirsten Anderson1: 8 Building Blocks to Success
Through a Playful Mindset 2: Through the Lens of Play
Integrate Play SolutionsPlayful Working1: In this session Kirsten explores eight elements of success found in a playful childhood that we can integrate as adults into business and life.

2: Participatory DIY Kaleidoscope making Playshop with found /recycled objects.
Kit Nørgaard AabjergHOmo Ludens - a playful life for everyone.Playful Living
Lena MechPlay To Disobey: How Public Play Can Change Our View On CitiesCopenhagen Game CollectivePlayful Cities
Luca MoriniTogether we Play, Divided we Wall: Playfully Hacking Serious SystemsCoventry UniversityPlayful Living, Playful CitiesIn this workshop, participants will build, examine, remix and then make publicly available (through a variety of documentation techniques) a playful hacking kit, inclusive of tools of technological, conceptual or aesthetic nature, and ultimately provide both participants and the general publics with the means to develop and adapt their own community based playful interventions in urban and institutional environments, ways of collectively tearing down the walls of seriousness, be them physical and metaphorical.
Lynn RoseberryLearning about Inclusive Leadership through PlayOn the AgendaPlayful WorkingIn this workshop participants will play Mosaic®, a facilitated Serious Game, developed on the basis of the book, Bridging the Gender Gap: 7 Principles for Achieving Gender Balance (Oxford University Press 2014; 2016), by Dr. Lynn Roseberry and Dr. Johan Roos. Mosaic® uses gender as a starting point to encourage participants to discuss and reflect on common diversity-related dilemmas drawn from the real-life experiences of leaders in all kinds of organizations.
Mariane SiemThe Playful VoicePlayful LivingMany people restrict themselves in their vocal expression - either because of norms in society or because of aesthetic judgments. In the Roy Hart voice work the purpose is to liberate the power of the voice and use it as a source of creativity and personal growth. Essential in this approach to the voice is playing. Play allows us to connect to the impulsive body and makes us forget the controlling mind. In play we learn to listen – both to our own voice and to the voice of the other players.
Mikel HorlDeconstructive Play: Empathy, Distance, DiversityActivismo PSD, the Parliament of Social DesignPlayful LearningThis workshop investigates the power of play between cultures, generations and disciplines, promoting empathy, compassion and positivity in human relations. Groups will work together to deconstruct games and other source materials to invent new ways of playing. Deconstructive approaches from literature, art, theatre and architecture are employed to give insight and generate ideas for cultural and generational interaction.
Naomi de la Tour, Robbie FoulstonThe DenPlayful LivingThe Den remains in place & open throughout the conference with a chance for people to change it, adapt it, make their own spaces for playing, talking, disappearing, and exploring. In inviting people to (re)create and interact with it - subverting, reverting and converting the space in various ways - it encourages an active participation in thinking and experimenting with how spaces can influence and inform play, both for us as individuals and in wider settings in society; in education, in our homes and offices.
Nicole SumnerPlay Slam: Spoken Word for Empowered DemocracyPlayful LivingHalf the power of spoken word and the poetry slam is in effective emceeing. MCs are like skilled leaders of social play- they create an exciting place to try something new, make inclusive play offers and entice skeptics - in short, they Move the Crowd (another term for MC). The focus of this workshop is on both the poem and the MC: democratizing the performance space via play and spoken word. What does your play poem look like, sound like, feel like? In this non-competitive poetry slam we’ll support each other in remembering, co-constructing and performing our play histories/practices. Moving from heart to voice to stage, we’ll play with rhythm, choral echo and MC tools- this is democraplay at any age!
Portia TungThe Curiosity CarouselThe School of PlayThis fun and interactive workshop has been carefully crafted to give participants the chance to experience how we unblock ourselves and unlock our potential as individuals by acknowledging and embracing our playful selves. Join me, Portia Tung, Playmaker 001 and Play Coach, to crystallise your definition of play and explore your relationship with play. You'll get to play on the Play Carousel, a mix of exercises, arts and crafts and games to get us thinking and talking about play and having fun! No mini play adventure is complete without the prospect of change and challenge, so you'll get to take away at least 3 ideas to increase your daily amount of play right away.
Robbie FoulstonDissolving the Blocks - Giving ourselves permission to playPlayful LivingIn this practical session, we will uncover some of the common obstacles that get in the way of us playing, and how we might use playfulness itself to fully acknowledge them, lighten up around them, and start to gently dissolve them.

Using games, activities and exercises drawn from theatre, mindfulness and self-development traditions, we will look at both the internal and external blocks that can jolt us out of our play-state, or stop us from getting into a play-state in the first place!

We will get curious about where they come from, before discovering the powerful potential of befriending and playing with these blocks, rather than resisting and ignoring them. Finally, we will discuss and explore some tools that might support us in our playing, in order to help give ourselves and others more permission to play.
Sarah HuxleyThe Toybox Mum’s Collective Story: What next?The Toybox Mum’s CollectivePlayful Living, Playful LearningThe Toybox Mum’s Collective is a project for young mothers to become inventors: co-designing hybrid toys and reclaiming a valued position in society. It aims to use human centred design, storytelling, and play therapy to tackle these issues:
1) Young mothers need a platform from which they can challenge stereotypical views of them as a ‘burden on society’, and present themselves, as they truly are: dynamic, powerful and creative.
2) The twentieth century has been a period of labour/ work and the neo-liberal project, which has resulted in a grossly unequal world. In our small way, we believe in the power of play, and a mother’s role to challenge this.
3) Mothers should be the inventors, and not simply passive recipients, or consumers on behalf/ for their children. Toys are imbued with so much meaning – how children are gendered, how they should learn and what they should learn. Mothers have a right to be engaged in the process: shaping social norms, as well as nurturing their own self-belief.
Stine Liv JohansenThe Playful Library as an Arena for Civic ParticipationAarhus UniversityPlayful LearningThrough debate and a hands-on workshop, we will be exploring how the library as an arena for play and as a playful organization can - developed in dialog with the Danish Union of Librarians.
Sune Klok GudiksenReplay-Power / Power-ReplayAalborg UniversityPlayful WorkingWe take a direct approach to the 2017 Counter play theme ‘the power of play’. Through a newly developed board game we let participants take various routes and scenarios to gain power and deal with that new- gained power through various lenses from historical thinkers to ethical viewpoints. Players will start with minor and less complex scenarios, and as the game progresses more complex scenarios will unfold. Incorporated into the game will be everyday ‘power’ scenarios from real life, probably also inviting the participants to bring anonymous stories.
Sylvan SteenhuisPlayful Revolution Performance LecturePlayful RevolutionPlayful LivingIn this Performance Lecture we will cover some theory on designing for Ludic Interventions, pop-up playful happenings. With these theories in mind we will embark on a quest to find ways to incorporate playfulness in our every-day mundane activities. In what way can we challenge ourselves to play with our surroundings? How can we challenge our social structures in a playful way? How can we introduce ourselves to someone new without using any words? Should we challenge the way we sit on chairs? In a Playful Revolution Play Out we will explore different forms of communal Play. With a range of exercises catered to explore different aspects of play be it social, physical or cognitive, taking inspiration from the New Games Movement and theatre warm-ups.
Troy InnocentWayfinderSwinburne UniversityPlayful CitiesPlay persists in cities despite mass surveillance and urban alienation, perhaps responding to these as a strategy for engaging with the complexity of contemporary cities, or the emerging and contentious concept of ‘smart cities’. Mixed realities, the blending of digital elements into the material world, can reveal the multiple layers of this complexity and open it up as a site for exploration and play. Wayfinder explores the many tensions present in contemporary cities: connection and alienation, actual and virtual, digital and analog, public and private, civic and corporate.
Veronica FossaCreating Food Experiences at Work by PlayingWE FactoryPlayful WorkingThis workshop build bridges between design thinking, food, experience and gaming design and brings the conversation to the workplace, a place where play is often out of discussion.
In this workshop, which is structured itself as a game, participants will work in teams to create ideas for happy food concepts at work and prototype them with the materials provided. Each group will receive a surprise food item – undisclosed to others – which will set the ground for the conversation and serve as the foundation for the game. With the support of cards that highlight roles, location and a specific task to solve, participants within a team will be actively involved to create a concept keeping the food item in mind. At the end, each team will present their idea by role playing and will let other teams guess.
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