Urban Play

"From infancy and into adulthood, play is a natural instinct – a social building block that teaches us how to interact and get to know each other."

Community Participation & Play365

Building off of Rockaoke Live!, the new SetCrafter™ concept is now targeted for its potential in Vancouver's Play365, a social initiative in Vancouver's urban core for helping communities to enable play and for connecting people through play. The concept – according to Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of The National Institute for Play – is that "play binds us together and builds relationships, which in turn build communities.”  

Play365 presents a nice fit for SetCrafter™ as a way for urban communities to engage and interact as: (1) socializing audience members, (2) by collaborating on song selections, or even (3) by getting up on stage to sing for those same communities. The participatory live music experiences proposed here create ways to engage others in the community while taking care individual creative and expressive needs for living in urban spaces.

We're excited to do some exploring in this direction, which ultimately has some connection to our craft beer pioneers and karaoke-loving neighbours to the south in Portland, Oregon. The city's playful spirit has been noted by Play365 as a model for Vancouver, and may be reflected in its local karaoke bars (whether with a bottle of Fat Head IPA or a tall can of PBR). In 2013 the New York Times even asked:

"Is it possible that one of the most exciting music scenes in America is happening right now in Portland, and it doesn’t feature a single person playing an actual instrument?"

Of course, The Naturals have been playing actual instruments in a live band karaoke format since 2013. Meanwhile, their setlist strategist Dr. Goulet's interest in craft beer may or may not have played a role in the craft beer sponsorship direction (as well as the "real band, real beer" slogan). There does seem to be a fit between the looseness, informality, and playfulness of mixing songs selections, a live stage, and different flavours of liquid courage and that same playful spirit that's noticeable in Portland's urban character.


Whether Portland, Seattle, Vancouver or other local urban environment on the west coast, the SetCrafter roadmap actually moves well beyond its home in the Pacific Northwest. And that "big picture" stuff actually includes Australia...

 Urban Informatics Lab

Urban Informatics & Digital Media Research

SetCrafter is also being proposed as a future research project for Flynn (who needs his PhD to properly earn the title "Dr. Goulet") at the Urban Informatics Research Lab and the Digital Media Research Centre in Brisbane, Australia.

The aim for the Urban Informatics Lab:

"We examine, communicate, and design how people, places, and technologies come together to create urban experiences. Our aim is to research and co-create urban futures that are more liveable and equitable." 

While the Digital Media Research Centre investigates:

"New technological developments like big data, locative media and wearable technologies challenge social science and humanities researchers to develop new approaches and methods, and to train upcoming researchers in how to apply them."

Within the larger research context of the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the lab and centre are interested in: 

  • Co-creative urban futures
  • Civic participation & hacking
  • Social entrepreneurship & urban change
  • Self care & mutual aid
  • Community engagement & placemaking
  • Enabling smart cities & smart citizens
  • Participatory data visualisation
  • Media architecture
  • Playful cities

Flynn's past work in research and teaching at the university level fits very well with both organizations, while SetCrafter™ touches on several of these collaborative themes. The integrated technology platforms that have been proposed with this concept since Flynn joined also fit. These initially started with a Shopify ecommerce concept for a customer front end, Trello's organizational system, then eventually the "RockBand Pro" backend to help performers manage large catalogs of songs. See more on the technologies HERE.

The work that the SetCrafter™ team is undertaking therefore has application in any urban centre where, as Play365's Paolo Aquilini proposes, "working, living and playing exist in continual flow rather than as separated silos." As a result, there are some strong design research opportunities to connect this Vancouver initiative to the Brisbane research community.

Also, potential Australian live entertainment industry partner Rockaoke Australia is not far away in Byron Bay. A framework could be developed involving the above lab and research centre that would help build technology to support Rockaoke Australia's business and operations needs. At the same time, this Canadian-Australian relationship could open up opportunities for paying gigs – or even open up craft beer markets – in both countries, if not across North America