Game Design: Trente pas entre terre et ciel

Trente pas entre terre et ciel is a 19-meter long cooperative/competitive marelle (hopscotch) for groups of two players, created by Heather Kelley (Perfect Plum) and Oscar Barda (Them Games) for Joue le jeu, the extensive show of new games and playable installations at La Gaite lyrique in Paris, France.

Created specifically to the countours of an existing space, the game embodies the exhibition’s call for visitors to “play along” by turning hopscotch into an epic multi-player physical and social quest. This “mod” of a familiar single-player children’s game challenges visitors to re-imagine what games are and what they communicate.

At various moments, Trente pas asks pairs of players to interact with each other in different ways such as holding hands, or alternating their jumps.  It also prompts players to express themselves verbally, such as “complement your partner” and “encourage the other players.”

The game orchestrates engagement with the adrenaline and heart-racing of sheer physical activity, as well as humorous off-balance and socially awkward situations.

Curating: Joue le jeu / Play along

In summer 2012 I co-curated Joue le jeu / Play along with Lynn Hughes and Cindy Poremba: a 5000 m2 exhibition of innovative games featuring experimental spatial and sculptural gameplay at La Gaite Lyrique in Paris, France.

Here are a few of the projects in this ground-breaking show of new commissioned games and curated content.

The Building Is...
The Building Is… is a series of physical games centred around the idea of a sentient building being brought to life by its playful inhabitants.

OhMiBod Remote

Perfect Plum’s original and best-known product is the award-winning iPhone app, the OhMiBod Remote.

The OhMiBod Remote app was an intuitive and stylish vibrator interface for the iPhone.  By “finger painting” on the touchscreen with one or two fingertips, the user could adjust and adapt vibration speed, intensity, and patterns solely by sense of touch.  Output from the app was translated into signals which propel the motor of an attached vibrator, which could be purchased separately from OhMiBod’s online store or in select retail shops.Available on the App Store

The inspiration for the OhMiBod app was Ms. Kelley’s dissatisfaction with the awkward user interfaces employed by most personal vibrators on the market at the time, such as a single button used to blindly “cycle through” dozens of settings.  “When I got my first iPhone and started playing with the touchscreen, i realized it was the perfect interface to provide more nuanced control,” says Kelley.  The app’s beautiful graphic interface helped users identify and instantly access their favorite sensations.  But its primary strength was its ability to translate intuitive finger movements into a wide range of vibration strengths and patterns.  In other words, the OhMiBod app was especially well-suited to operate one-handed, with eyes closed.

Still from the 2010 promotional video for original OhMiBod Remote vibrator app,
originally named “Body Heat” prior to acquisition by OhMiBod

If you would like the password to view the original promotional video on Vimeo, please send an email to: arborist (at)

App development team:

App technology:

Video: Controlled Invasion

A series of interviews on the ethics of game design, created in a three-day sprint at Transmediale 2011 by Heather Kelley (Kokoromi) and Thorsten Wiedemann (A.MAZE). Filmed and edited by Emily Völker.

Related post: “Controlled Invasion

Working on a meaningful game that is trying to invoke real-world behavior change is both an inspiring and somewhat terrifying prospect. It’s not something we as game designers can treat blithely, without deep examination.


Pollie Barden (game designer)
Jamin Brophy-Warren (game journalist)
Heath Bunting (artist)
Martin Ciesielski (consultant)
Daphne Dragona (curator)
Michael Liebe (game researcher)
Mirae Rosner (artist)
Gabriel Shalom (artist)
Paul Vanouse (artist)