Replacing it all: Starting the transition

Whew, well moving to a secure website and domain for the non-profit stuff is an involved set of decision points.  So yes, abandon this transitory blog and move on.

We should have the new site up in late June or early July, with at least 3 weeks before our 1st game design camp for youth. With that, I can start to develop a recurrently curated set of conversations related to games and play related to what we’re doing with Pixel Arts (yep, temporary name, a placeholder).  The camp gives us the opportunity to prototype a maker-based learning environment in game design, see what works and where to improve, and continue development for a full-set of programming and resources support.





Barcamp Portland 7: Digital Interactivity and Mini-Maker Expo Schedule

We’ve finalized all the submissions and Barcamp Portland 7 has an online guide up.  Please join us this Friday, March 29th 6:30-9pm at the Elliot Center.

This year, we are partnering with the Game Creation and Education Initiative to provide an evening and full day interactive exhibits along with the usual attendee-led sessions. On Friday evening, please join us to experience local indie game and other interactive projects featuring a game about canvassing, epic robot fighting, puzzles, self-controlled visual music displays, crowd-sourced font design, and more! On Saturday, join us for sessions including a home brewing demonstration, woodworking lecture, the neighborhood market project, and the conclusion of the weekend’s font design project!

Barcamp Portland 7: Video Games and a Mini Maker Expo

Last year, Pixel Arts and the Portland Indie Game Squad co-produced a video game showcase and crowdfunding jam at Barcamp Portland.  This year we’re expanding the scope and reach to embed games in a larger ecosystem of maker communities and project related to digital interactivity.  A call for participation can be found at the Barcamp Portland website.


Our goal is to provide a hands-on space to showcase creative work by our talented makers and communities throughout Portland. The mini-expo offers groups a chance to share their work, collaborations and passions with new people. What kinds of projects submissions are we inviting? Anything that promotes hands on engagement and interaction including but not limited to:

  • Video games
  • Digital or static immersion displays
  • Audio, light and visual interactivity technologies
  • DIY hardware hacks, micro-controllers, Arduino, Raspberry PI
  • Digital puppetry, robotics, micro-machines and rotorcraft
  • Motion and gesture sensory recognition technology
  • Origami, paper kits, and 3D printing or modeling
  • Hybrid arts that blend the spectrum of digital and non-digital media

How to Submit

Please apply online.Submission Deadline: Midnight PST, Wed March 13th, 2013.

Our thanks for helping create an amazing community collaboration.

Please RSVP

Barcamp Portland 7 takes place Friday March 29th, 6:30-9pm and Saturday March 30th, 9am-9pm at the Eliot Center,1226 SW Salmon St, Portland, OR 97205.

If you haven’t already don’t forget to RSVP to let us know you plan to attend.

New Website for Pixel Arts

Clearly we’ve lapsed in using this blog in any meaningful way.  Thankfully, we’ll have an official website and blog soon, and we’ve shifted to a WIKI to for our development of game education programs and maker spaces initiatives.  We also have a monthly newsletter, which means that I may either retire or repurpose KawaiiDreams.  Until then, we have a backlog of posts about new events and pilot programs.  More to come.

Convergences: Build.Break.Make & Jane McGonigal

Some of the youths attracted by PIGSquad’s games and apps.

Parents really, really want game design education and opportunities for their children to make games.  It was palpable at the OMSI Mini Maker Faire where the Portland Indie Game Squad hosted an exhibition of indie games.  Will Lewis invited me to talk with attendees about Pixel Arts and our planned educational initiatives.  One parent let us know, “my son doesn’t stop talking about Minecraft.  He keeps asking how he can make games.  I don’t know what I should tell him.”  Advice has its difficulties when done from afar, but we did offer some starting points as learning mentors.  It wasn’t just Minecraft though, and many parents signed up for our e-mail newsletter.

OMSI’s Mini Maker Faire gives us early validation of our educational goals: offer maker-based education in art, design and programming through video games.  As important, I think it validates the Right Brain Initiative’s goal of STEM to STEAM and that parents are deeply bothered by cuts and the loss of arts and humanities in schools.  OMSI’s nickname for the maker faire was Build.Break.Make, and it’s what I would call Play.Make.Design.  In either case, learning is embedded in iteration through engagement, mentoring and collaboration.

Iteration surfaces this week with two more convergences, Dr. Jane McGonigal and Kickstarter.  McGonigal is speaking this Thursday, Sept. 19, at Concordia University on the power of education and gaming.  Her SuperBetter and book Reality is Broken stretch what we conventionally mean by playing games toward systems of feedback loops and flow through divergent states.  Instead of tight loops of scarcity and reward found in gamification and freemium play, the preferred directive is gamefulness through an iteration of engagement.  In that spirit, check out this homage to her work with Dropkicker: Kick Your Bad Habits for Good, a new Kickstarter with a simple story:

A little over a year ago, I changed jobs, moved to a new apartment, and did a few other things that caused the amount of cash in my life to decrease – a LOT. I was stressing out about money and feeling lousy because I felt like I wasn’t in control of my life. I’d been reading Jane McGonigal’s book “Reality is Broken,” and thinking about the game “Chore Wars” by Kevan Davis, and hit on the idea of turning my financial struggles into a game. 

Along the way, we realized that what we were really working on was something that made good financial habits easier to learn. “Why not do this for all sorts of habits?” we thought, and DropKicker was born. 

I’ll be at her talk with our community group, Portland Games for Change.  Feel free to join us and chat; we’ll be at McMenamins beforehand from  5:30-6:30pm.  For information and volunteer opportunities, come by  our google group Pixel Arts PDX.

Upcoming meeting: Portland Games for Change

Pixel Arts is making some significant moves this and next month.  First, we have our Portland Games for Change meetup on August 23rd, Thursday 7pm.  Corvus Elrod is presenting, “Meaningful Design in Games throughout History.”  We’ll also have an update on our organizing meeting from last month and an update on future plans for the community group.


More information at:


Secondly, we are starting outreach to build a relationship with a 501c3 umbrella organization.  We hope to find a strong alignment in vision and mission so that we can generate sponsorships for our large events.  Most notably, we are planning a game summit in October to work with NGOs and NPOs on creating social impact games.  This will let us prototype vision of lowering barriers of cost in experimenting with game design for social good.

News from the Community Leadership Summit and OSCON 2012

This past weekend, I attended the 2012 Community Leadership Summit (CLS), an un-conference before OSCON, dedicated to elevating the practice of nurturing open communities. I had the opportunity to share our vision of Portland Games for Change in a lightning talk, and I’d like to bring some of that back out to our communities.

First, I’m starting Pixel Arts, a social entrepreneurship, to create positive change in the world. Our guiding vision is that we should be helping groups address social and economic issues through game development, education and investment.

We’ve seen our libraries disappear and our arts and sciences programs close in the face of budget collapses. We also see the dramatic impact of this on kids and adults in everyday life, and the chasm of the digital divide yawns widely for so many learners without these programs.

Second, our vision of positive change about games is one of many in Portland, and over the last year, I’ve met wonderfully passionate community leaders pursuing visions of social good.

Despite all our connectivity, many of our communities are siloed from one another. Some of this is normal: it’s summer or it’s winter, we’re busy, we have so many competing interests, our bandwidth is limited.

Games for Change begins with this simple opportunity. How do we grow community and support these various efforts across silos? Here are some propositions:

  • Silos concentrate but also isolate. Build connective tissue and an infrastructure to nurture our social ecology in vivid, fun ways.
  • Building community takes more than a common interest. It requires team and execution. Build shared resources by promoting alignment and collaboration.
  • The nation is not the sole or even the best way to grow. Build locally and regionally, and aspire to work trans-nationally across national boundaries.

Portland Games for Change is just starting, but we already are well on our way. Last month, Pixel Arts hosted Gaming for Social Good, a roundtable to bring together local educators, non-profits, businesses and game developers.  59 people attended the roundtable and more than 25 joined Portland Games for Change. In the last three weeks, we have grown to 79 members.

Our community is enthusiastic to do social good. Game for Change has reached our to support our affiliate and to help promote our efforts.  We already have plans to support a number of projects including:

  • PWNING Cancer, a charitable fundraising game tournament
  • ChickTech, a signature camp for girls
  • Portland Game It Forward, a game jam to work with mission-based groups on social good
  • Pixel Play, a game camp for middle and high school kids
  • Girl Scouts, a First Lego League and Media/Game Lab courses

More opportunities have risen from the CLS. We’re excited to talk with SocialCoding4Good and Code for America this week.  We also co-hosted a session on Gaming with Paul Vorvick of Beyond the Aether, and we got to make an enthusiastic connection with Justin Houk of WhereCamp and a member of Portland’s geographic information systems community.

Our first meetup is Wed July 25th, and we invite you to join us in setting an agenda and priorities for the next year.  Our hope is to create events that focalize attention and create opportunities for collaboration in the Pacific NW.  Help us extend the social impact of games for world-making change here and elsewhere.