Workshop: Worldbuilding and Speculative Design through the Creation of Rule Sets

Wednesday, November 15, 2023 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

UChicago Yuen Campus in Hong Kong
168 Victoria Road, Mount Davis
Hong Kong



The Fluxus experimental art movement, a community of artists that emerged in the 1960s in the United States, informs contemporary experimental game design practices. In 1969, Alison Knowles described the Fluxus “event score” as a “one- or two-line recipe for action.” Though rarely described as games, these scores feel like invitations to social play. Ludic event scores have fallen out of fashion since their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s. What, then, would such scores look like 50 years later in a culture where games are no longer a peripheral art form but culturally dominant? Instead of simply serving as precursors to contemporary video games, might speculative Fluxus event scores have something new to teach us about game-based worldbuilding?  

"Worldbuilding" is essentially the process of conceptualizing an internally-consistent setting, which we see in fiction, film, television, design, and games across genres that include science fiction, fantasy, horror, and more. Worldbuilding involves not only imagination, but also the organizational and logistical work of making a world believable and inhabitable. The workshop will use a method from some of professor’s work, which involves creating game rule sets for imagined worlds, as a way of imagining alternatives to the present world. Participants will gain experience in the fields of speculative design and game design as they operate in the arts, creative writing, and humanistic fields.  

Workshop sequence 

  1. Overview: We will discuss the intersection of game design and speculative design as a route into worldbuilding. We will use our in-progress collaborative worldbuilding project, Otherworldly Games: An Atlas of Possible Realities, as a way of framing these issues. This project demonstrates how games can create worlds in order to help us think about norms, laws, rules, and ordinary modes of being that govern the real world.  
  2. Gameplay: In pairs, we will play through a few game-like event scores. 
  3. Design: In small groups, we will create our own game rulesets as a way of imagining other worlds, and share back with the group. 



Patrick Jagoda 
Professor of English and Cinema and Media Studies
Faculty Director of the Weston Game Lab and the Media Arts and Design Minor 
The University of Chicago 
Co-founder of the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab and the Transmedia Story Lab 

Sarah Edmands Martin 
Assistant Professor, Visual Communication Design 
University of Notre Dame 


About /pɒp/Asia

The UChicago Yuen Campus /pɒp/Asia series will address topics that originate, revolve around and affect the Asia-Pacific Region. From music and anime to tattoos and the exploding interest in crypto currencies, we’ll explore the cultural goings-on in deep corners around the region and how they are influencing the rest of the world. Read more.