Lectures and design workshop at PowerHouse
Look north on the map of Europe and you'll find Sweden; look for Stockholm on the east coast and go up another 250 miles along the Gulf of Bothnia and you'll find Kramfors, a small town in the Vasternorrlands. Once the center of a huge timber industry, Kramfors is quieter now, but it's the home of PowerHouse, a media school that teaches television production and video game development. To this remote and lovely spot I repaired at the invitation of Agnetha Fredriksson, the director of studies. At 63 degrees of latitude it's certainly the farthest north I've ever been, beating the old record set by Bergen at 60 23'. I spent two days there, giving a lecture and a game design workshop to the students. I also gave a lecture about the Serious Games Initiative to a group of people working on developing digitally simulated scenarios for crisis management. Since there's a school for firefighters there, I'm nursing a hope that my long-planned game on fighting forest fires (begun sometime in the mid-1980's) might even come to fruition.
The last evening I was there we took a drive around the High Coast estuary of the Ångerman river, a UNESCO World Heritage Area because of its unusual geology -- the land is rising particularly fast in the area. We also had dinner at a restaurant overlooking the High Coast Bridge, an enormous suspension bridge visibly inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge, though lighter and more modern. The following morning -- May 14 -- it snowed, lightly dusting the trees.
The Powerhouse building. Taken with a cruddy mobile phone camera, alas.