Long before Dorothy came to Oz, Glinda and the Wizard changed everything.

Designing the future (games of 2020)

An origami dragon, folded out of red paper.

An origami dragon. Courtesy google image search.

While reviewing some of my past creative work today, I came across a game design document I wrote in 2009.

I was still a student, and the contest was a limited-time entry only. With just a few days before the deadline, I brainstormed what I thought would be a fascinating game and digital world. A large part of this document relies on technology that isn’t quite there yet. (Think back to how much less-there the technology was four years ago!)

In designing Paper Planes, a Massive Online Community of digital origami, I combined three things: digital technology just beyond our reach, the infinite creativity of the human mind, and origami, which fascinated me as a child. Consider the artistic landscape – if there were no limitations to digital folding or paper craftsmanship, what could you create?

Creativity is: 2+2=fun

Why are we creative? It is a drive that propels us forward into the unknown, mashing things together to see how they fit, if they break, and what becomes of it. Imagine an entire army of your fellow-persons doing the same thing in a digital world. Paper is the stuff that dreams are made of. Whether written, drawn, painted, or folded, paper can bring to life whatever we see inside our mind’s eye. We create what we enjoy. In other words, creativity is fun.

Components of the experience

There are several components to this origami experience. Some of them are not technologically feasible…yet. The most prominent is the ScrollUp gamescreen. This is a flexible, creasible interface with microLED display guides folds for patterned folding. Press a button or use a pre-programmed gesture to flatten out the gamescreen.

Each origami model has a unique crease pattern. This is the key to digital origami. There are only six basic folds in origami. From these folds comes thousands of unique models. Recognizing the order of these folds and transforming the paper model from a 2-dimensional representation, to a three-dimension construct is the basis for the Crumple Algorithm.

Where are we right now with flexible screens? CNET has a FAQ article on flexible interfaces. Here’s a video that shows the current state (2013) of flexible interfaces.

We’ve still got a ways to go before we can crease a screen and keep it working properly. We’ve got seven years to make it work.

Read: Paper Planes design document

I had a lot of fun designing this concept. Perhaps in the future someone will explore this idea further. While my degree is in game design, that is not my current industry. My strength is devoted to technical writing for my employer, and writing novels for my dreams. Game design doesn’t really enter the picture right now. So if somewhere down the road you see a digital origami world brimming with creativity, remember, you saw it here first.

To read the entire game design document (about 5 pages), follow this link to Gamasutra –  http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/132349/games_of_2020__the_winners.php?page=3

Additional Resources

Flexible screen links

Origami links

I would be remiss to leave you without some eye candy – beautiful origami designs constructed by amazing artists.

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