World trip inspires real food revival games for festivals.

A performer at Burgfest, Neustadt Glewe, Germany in June 2013. Photo by Sylvie Gustafsson. 

I'm excited about this first post. Partly because it takes me back to where my journey started last December 2013, before I embarked on the most intensive and extensive global market research trip I had ever heard of, one that nearly left Sylvie and myself more than just knackered. Partly also because it resembles a new chapter in the story of developing a new media format for the world of food festivals, one that revives endangered culinary traditions - - you know, the sensible, fun and intriguing way your grandparents made real food taste so good that it made you instinctively say "Wow, can I have a go doing that!"

After travelling for 5 months through Europe, America, Hawaii and Canada, I determined the game model would serve 3 purposes: The 1st is to help food festivals capture a newer, more interactive global virtual and physical audience that is seeking authentic opportunities of collaborative play. The 2nd is that the games will serve as a serious platform for championing long-forgotten culinary cultures by innovating their foods. And the last is to keep the experience evolutionary across a string of festivals around the world.

But developing anything new is easier said than done. To do it I'm going to reflect on my interviews and call on your participation in preparation for prototyping: 

I'll take you on a story and give you the latest in thinking among industry leaders and underground creatives from 4 tourism industries ( adventure, culinary, creative and heritage) plus the games industry in Europe and the North Americas. I'll also tell you what drives them to do what they do.  Finally, your constructive alternative views, ideas, links and discussions will help either refine the format's design and tighten its definition or build context to the posts thereby broadening its appeal to other industries. All in the name of bringing the new media format to the world in a monetisable form that benefits the end user, and bringing back the foods we love from the times we cherish and dream about.

Next I'm going to dive straight into reflecting on why Germany's Burgfest psychologically works just like a well designed game & business, how it relates to the world's most successful brands, and the untapped opportunities that lie within. 

Watching delectable crepes being made fresh at Burgfest. Ah, childhood memories. Photo by Sylvia Gustafsson

I start here (June 2014) because Burgfest was the first pivotal moment in understanding how to design powerful festival experiences. Throughout the trip I learned a massive amount, but every so often someone, a place or an event like Burgfest would trigger a eureka moment and a big leap forward in my work. Leading up to this starting point was many months of preparation and years of dedication to applying my own and other designer's theories in the science of play through designing interactive exhibitions at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum (one of Australia's largest museums). I'll dip into that knowledge base and people's inspirational work I'm grateful for occasionally.



Sylvie Gustafsson has always believed in me since the days we designed the Magic Garden together in 2008. She joined me at the start in Germany and then again on the North American leg of the investigative journey, and you'll see her great photography here. I keep learning from her and her creative leadership.

Sylvie is a cultural scientist and a children's philosopher who brought Sydney the Magic Garden's Time Machine that helped make the educational play space a cultural phenomenon in the streets here during its incredible 6 year life. At the time her use of interactive media with children's philosophy was a new milestone achieved.

Mary Kurek, my PR agent and professional networker was always with me (virtually, from afar in North Carolina). I approached her in December 2013 with my new collaborative economic model I wanted to test through a game. Before its inception I had spent a year investigating culinary tourism since discovering a cookbook that serendipitously took me up the Swedish west coastline of island bakeries and knew that a mass-collaborative game for food festivals that awakened the culinary tourist within us was the ideal fit for a popular experience. Mary then set up high level connections for me to interview. Soon I began to develop a multimodal method of investigation I believe to be more powerful, faster and therefore better suited to innovators and early adopters than many number of good trend forecasting reports I have enjoyed reading.

I laugh now because a short while before I embarked on the trip Mary said the trip is not something she would do. Would or could? It was epic and there's no way I could have done it alone, or keep going without you as the reader and the amazing professional connections and friends I've made along the way.

And a real thank you to my family for their ongoing support.