An Overview

SCOOT is an excuse to collaborate, an excuse to make friends for both the players and the makers of SCOOT events. Apart from being an opportunity to exercise theory and refine methodologies of practice, SCOOT has been a journey of enthusiasm and great affection. SCOOT has relied on minimum funding and maximum cooperation from arts organisations to involve young students and developers in this highly experimental journey of making and playing a large scale LBG. Due to the scale of some SCOOT events it has taken as long as six months to develop a single iteration. During this time I have needed to recruit and direct collaborators as they join the project at various stages of development in a way that minimises the use of resources and maximises the quality of outputs.
In each iteration of SCOOT, many local young designers and developers were invited to contribute as students, volunteers and contractors. For SCOOT 2006, a group of 30 participants worked together to produce the largest Location-Based Game to ever be staged in Australia.

SCOOT no doubt owes a great deal to the many collaborators. However, it is a directed process and definitely hierarchical to insure the consistency of the work. One of the main factors that contributed to the success of the SCOOT project is its capacity to motivate and support effective collaboration. However, how to inspire and sustain a group of strangers to work towards one major outcome is no small challenge. Much of the writing on collaboration tends to over-estimate the collaboration as ‘co-authoring processes that are team-based and no longer hierarchical’ (Cheryl Stock 2007). It is also necessary to be realistic and reflective on exactly how collaboration can both contribute and hinder the development of the work and how much it actually relies on a hierarchical process to insure quality outcomes and experiences for all involved. In my experience making SCOOT, I found that it was more important to respond to individual experiences and expectations and recognise and articulate their contributions to the project and each other. This gave individuals incentives to collaborate and contribute to the broader needs of the project as well as provide social, technical, creative and professional opportunities for each and every contributor. As such, it became a major focus of this study to discover in detail why, how and when to collaborate.

Once the objectives of a SCOOT event are defined, the timeline and available resources determined, and the expected outputs are documented, the need for SCOOT collaborators are then understood. Collaborators are recruited according to the timely requirements of the project. For example the various programmers, animators and illustrators are only recruited once the development stages commence after the site analysis, initial scripts and design specifications are completed. Later I would recruit sound designers to assist the game developers and technicians to construct installation boxes.
Throughout the development process I would organise workshops for collaborators to present their contributions and organise ways to collaborate with each other. This allowed for greater cooperation and resulted in more refined design outcomes as each contributor assisted others in areas of their own expertise. For example, a sound designer could work with a game designer to make a more complete product and richer user experience.
In response to this, I further developed on-line forums and shared digital repositories to allow for continued collaboration throughout the process. Throughout the SCOOT projects, these depositories have become invaluable media libraries of game inventories such as carnival characters, sounds, program scripts, etc. These shared assets were used multiple times by multiple collaborators creating a terrific resource for the collaborating developers. Having access to such resources meant that they were able to construct more sophisticated outcomes by the later SCOOT iterations as the libraries were more and more refined over each design iteration.

Although many of the collaborators are not involved throughout the process, they are all invited to attend the events as collaborative observers. Each contributor had developed an understanding of the SCOOT project values and objectives and became well informed and effective observers of the players providing invaluable feedback to the project. This was also a rewarding and educational activity for each collaborator as they got an opportunity to witness players interacting with their work in authentic public settings and quite often in high profile museum environments.