Invention : Windows in Space

In our first version of Windows in Space, which was originally built for outside use, players acquired pictures selected from sci-fi comics and the resulting poems were simple but effective.
When we brought the game indoors we were able to add interesting links with other art forms, but the writing tended to concentrate on action, stereotypic space-war stories. This was partly due to the exciting style of the graphics, irrespective of content, but most `scientific/educational' pictures are drab when photocopied.
So we turned to language, which stimulates pictures in the individual imagination, supported by reference photographs.

When players land their flying saucer they are given only a choice of words: landing pad 1 has the word space, the other pads carry words relating to phenomena such as black-holes, parts of landscape like craters, other worlds such as star or moon, and words connected to space travel itself, like zero-gravity.
The higher the pad's number the wider the choice. This has led to far more evocative, imaginative and humourous writing.

Freed from pictures, the players can be asked to concentrate on what somewhere is like, can write of small instants of time - a take-off, a comet passing - rather than being drawn into sagas of zapping aliens, they can look for detail in their imaginations to try feeling the amazement and awe of space rather than blandly reworking television plots.

Although many parts of the game have been revised and the follow-on activities have been too numerous and varied to detail, having ranged from poems stuck on simple large rocket shapes and booklets of strip-cartoon poems to animation and electronic music, the invariable parts have remained the flying saucer and the landing pads, though even these painted circles on a board (about 3 feet by 3 feet square) have been reduced from 12 to 7.
But the saucer has always been made by stapling together two paper plates, rim to rim, and spraying them/it silver. A cardboard disk placed internally, or for those with large staplers, between the plates, will add weight many flyers will find helpful. They fly well but are very sensitive. This means that if the landing board is placed near a wall the saucer definately tends to land on certain pads (not always the ones closest to the wall). If this happens it's worth rotating the board to try to get more landings to occour on the higher numbers, to give greater choice.

Obviously the sheet provided here is too small for these saucers - but tiddlywinks or other small disks can be used. It can be played without the board - players choose three numbers, then the lists are revealed and they choose three words from the correspondingly numbered lists. A maze game, visiting three numbered planets on the journey, can make this more amusing.

For further information on this sort of game click on games listed under INVENTION in the INDEX side bar.

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Windows Workshops Dave Calder, The Windows Project ,1997,1998,1999,2009