Perth Joins a Brave New World!

Free wifi for all!

 

Well…

 

Provided you download no more than 50mbs per connection, within a one hour connection enabled for any and all wifi enabled device. Should you last an hour without downloading that much, you will have to disconnect and reconnect to keep using it.

 

The Free City Wifi from the City of Perth is the first of its kind in any capital city of Australia, with blanket wifi coverage in the area shaded pink on the map below:

 

Wifi-Map-final

So, what do you think about the move to give all who visit Perth free internet access whilst in the city? Is it a good idea, or just a waste of money? I’d love to hear your views in the comments below.

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#cmtygames101

I was fortunate enough this week to attend Western Australia’s first ever Community Games 101 workshop held at Perth’s SpaceCubed, run by Curtin lecturer, Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie.

It was an intensive two-day workshop, so there was little time to dilly-dally. After a gentle icebreaker exercise to get to know the other people in the room with us (a useful exercise when you’re going to be creating games with them), we stepped up and started making our first game, based on the Race to the End model.

This is your usual board-based type of game where all the players start somewhere and have to finish somewhere else. We broke into two teams and came up with very different results. Strangely enough though, both teams had a game mechanic wherein the board and rules changed. Perhaps that was because, as adult players, the “usual” board games is boring for us? Either way “Space Crash” and “Switchboard” both ended up going through the conceptualising stage, on to the prototype stage within a couple of hours. Just before lunch on day one, both games were ready for play testing. Now, that’s nothing if not incredible. From thinking up the rules and mechanics to making the game in a few short hours is an incredible feat for a group of people who had little knowledge of each other before entering the room, and had maybe not created a game before.

We play tested each others games, debriefed as “real game developers” would, and thought about how to iterate our games to come up with something better and fix the bugs.

We then popped outside and played a game of Gargoyles. For those not familiar with this game, take a look. No props, except for team designation bands, just people in a space playing. What could be simpler?! The inherent learning in this game is all about proximity and overcoming the fear associated with entering another person’s space to overcome a problem, namely getting your team to win. There are also lessons about collaborating and teamwork in a small space of time.

Heading back inside, we thought about the various reasons that had brought us to the workshop. Breaking, again, into two teams, we began brainstorming community games that would satisfy a general consensus of our interests.

Day two began with a short presentation by Kate of what a community game could look like, how it could work, and what it brought to the community.

We also played a game about the creation of a game, aptly named “Metagame”. Players are dealt a series of cards, with a pile of potential props in the centre of the table in front of them. Players take turns pitching a rule, utilising the instructions on the cards they have been dealt (points awarded as per the cards if theirs is the successful rule as voted by the other players). Rules cannot created a paradox, illogical loop or an otherwise unplayable game, then the universe is destroyed and the game is over. Needless to say, there was laughter as people pitched their wacky rules.

We then formed back into our teams from the previous afternoon, and continued working, brainstorming and prototyping, our games. By just before lunch, both team had working prototypes of their community games.

One team had come up with a local area narrative collection or challenge game, utilising QR codes and a “treasure map” of stories to collect in a specific area of a local council’s jurisdiction. Aimed at promoting local area awareness, it was customisable and adaptable for various events and end goals, all the while promoting knowledge of the immediate area and its people. Designed to make residents aware of the local history, local businesses, and local features, it seemed to me to be an wonderful way of gathering families together to explore their streets and go a little outside of their comfort zone to do that exploration.

The Zombies Are Coming! I Need To Get To Know You.

The Zombies Are Coming! I Need To Get To Know You.

The team I was part of came up with a collection-based game as well. Breaking a real space down into zones (in this case the various areas of the SpaceCubed collaborative space), players had to gather stories under the premise that the players were a crack force of humans. Being briefed at HQ, they then had to go out into the space and collect stories, feelings and re-enact random acts of kindness in order to develop a map of the humanity in the space. Those approached who didn’t want to take part, or who refuse to play along, were dubbed “Zombies”.

Aiming to reconnect people with the stories in the space they are occupying, and forcing human face-to-face interaction in an environment where people may well feel they are there to work on their own project, alone, we felt this was a fun and safe way for people to realise that we are edging towards a state of aware zombie-ism.

After being being run through each team’s games (and running our team’s game within the space), we then debriefed and got feedback to iterate the games and make them better.

So, what is a “community game”?

A community game is a space of play where in the community is engaged, rather than isolated, and where the Magic Circle of play has an embedded goodness in it. It fosters, instead of cutting, community ties and educates “under the radar”. By this, I mean, the lesson is not the objective. The lesson is incidental and may well not become apparent to the player until well after the games has ended.

So, what did I take away from the whole experience?

All those times I have been playing a board game or a card game, and I have thought “This could work so well in an urban space”, I now have the tools and knowledge to make that happen. All those times I was sitting wondering how to get kids to think about recycling or the environment in a way that wasn’t the same old boring ways that are taught in school, I can now make that happen. Any time I was sitting in a public space thinking everyone is so set in the routine of “look down, keep walking, rush rush rush” I now have the tools and knowledge to subvert that in a way that will make people smile, look up and realise there is something else going on in their world if only they would stop to smell the roses (stay tuned for that game! *lol*).

At then end of the workshop, we all realised that this was something that needed to happen in Perth. The community-game community is strong elsewhere, and has brought so much to other places of the world, that we thought it was high-time Perth joined in the game.

Stay tuned for more details on what community-gaming events are happening around Perth. If you would like more details on community games, let me know in the comments below. Have you played a community game and want to tell me about it? Cool!

Melissa won the Curtin University Department of Internet Studies scholarship to attend the Community Games 101 Workshop. The workshop was presented by Atmosphere Industries and sponsored by Curtin University, in conjunction with SpaceCubed, the Film and Television Institute (W.A.) and yelp!.

Follow-up on Fallout: Lanius.

A little while ago, I posted about a fan film being made here in sleepy Perth. If you’re a fan of the Fallout games, or if you appreciate creative people getting together to do some awesomeness, now is your chance to help them out!

They are asking for your help to keep the set alive! With an IndieGogo endeavour, a Facebook page, and their own blog, these guys are intent on keeping people in the loop about their progress and keeping it real. They’re not looking for all of your cash (though I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you felt the compulsion), but every little bit helps.

For the record, I am not affiliated with these guys in any way, other than being a fan of awesomeness. I just think we ought to get behind those teams of people who seek glory on the battlefield of fan films!

Ahem… Yes. Assist them in any way possible. Even $5 helps.

If you can’t assist financially, they still need to know you support what they are trying to do, so head to their blog to keep up with all that’s happening on set, and check out their Facebook page for more updates and to ask them questions about it all. Spread the word!

Do all Perth People Dream of Melbourne?

I had the good fortune of attending the swarm conference in Melbourne this past week.

As I hadn’t had a holiday for a number of years, I decided it would be best to combine the two into a week of pure awesomeness. Holiday plus social media and community manager conference plus catching up with friends equals win. Plain and simple.

I had always planned to go to Melbourne, having seen many a Perthite head over there and blossom, but it was always something that required a good reason rather than just a holiday. I will post separately about the food I experienced over there, choosing this time to just write about the comparison between Perth and Melbourne.

So, here we go:

  1. In Melbourne, when you stand at a pedestrian crossing, the cars actually stop for you. Even if they have right of way. In Perth, they see you as a challenge and will hunt you down.
  2. Those in customer service generally truly want to serve you. The waiters understand that they are the line of first impression, so if they do a good job, people will have a better experience. People in stores genuinely want to assist you in making a good purchase. The people in visitor centers want to help you find your way. The concierge at your hotel, even if they’re new to Melbourne themselves, wants to make sure you have a good stay.
  3. Hook turns don’t freak drivers out and they allow for greater flow of traffic. Put those in Perth and wait for the in flux of emergency casualties.
  4. People in Melbourne want to use the city. In Perth, the city turns into pumpkins come six o’clock in the evening. With spinnafex. For real.
  5. In Melbourne, even if you’re lost you can find something to do. There are little bars and niche places down almost every alley way and turn. In Perth, if you’re lost, you’d better hope and pray you come out of it alive.
  6. In Melbourne the public transport understands that people actually want to use it to get around the city. In Perth, public transport is a sometimes thing, and even then, it’s dodgy at best. You certainly don’t rely on it t get around the city, unless you’re a traveler.
  7. Melbourne has more than three shades of green. Perth has more than three shades of brown.
  8. Deregulated shopping hours have made Melbourne an easier place to work in a life/work balance, as you don’t have to rush around to do your grocery shopping so much. In Perth, we baulked at Sunday City trading.
  9. In Perth, we have three months of vaguely decent temperatures to go wandering around outside in. In Melbourne, they have three months of vaguely unbearable temperatures.
  10. In Melbourne, you know the areas to stay away from if you don’t want to get harassed/violated/king-hit. In Perth, if you don’t want any of those things to happen, you just don’t go to Perth.

Okay, so that’s my comparison. Got other ideas? Think my opinion is wrong? Let me know in the comments below!

Little Creatures (Fremantle).

Well…

What can I say?

My mother told me as I was growing up, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” This may well be one of those times. Am I going to not say anything? Not likely!

You would think that a boutique brewery, frequented by the fine-tasting-beer-loving population of Fremantle would have a kitchen that could produce simple food of a decent enough standard to not detract from, but add to, the taste sensation. Clearly this is not the case this time around.

I have been going to Little Creatures on and off since they opened in Fremantle with the then humble brewery. The fare was passable back then. When I took a friend who had been out of the country for a number of years there last week, I would have expected them to have had a good amount of time to tweak the menu so that it matched their beers and ciders better.

My friend was more concerned with getting her fix of getting a beer that she is not able to get her hands on back home in British Columbia, than anything to eat with it. As I am sure all my readers can understand, a chance to eat somewhere different can never be passed up.

We had all just had lunch, so we really weren’t hungry. We were also about to go and have a really nice dinner cooked for us by our other guest, so a large offering from the kitchen wasn’t really on the cards. this is probably a good thing. It took forever to get a waitperson to serve us. We sat down and were given some water, then the waiter left us to make a decision on our food and drinks. We sat there for over ten minutes trying to find someone who would come and serve us. In the end the guy who came over was a bit rude. When we mentioned that we had been waiting quite some time after being sat down to be served and had tried to get the attention of a couple of the wait staff, he promptly said, “Well, I’m here now” after introducing himself to the table with “So, what’s going on here guys? Want any drinks or food?” Not exactly how I would have done it. In fact, when he came and put the food and drinks down, he just slid them on the edge of the table without seeing if we wanted anything else, so even engaging us.

Now, you all know I’m not exactly one to tell you about the service in too much depth. My focus is the food. this, however, was bad. Really bad. I felt like we were all taking up his valuable, precious time and we were supposed to just accept the poor service.

Another point leading to the validation of not ordering something more substantial was a walk past the pizza station. There was food all over the place, it was untidy, the glass was messy, the food was open to the air, and this was even with no pizzas having just been completed or in the process of being made. And it was early in the service time.

Bruchetta

Little Creature's Bruchetta.

When the bruchetta arrived, all three of us looked at it and we all sighed.

Goat’s cheese and roasted capsicum on lightly toasted italian crusty bread, was on the menu. It didn’t appear to us that the four tiny pieces in the basket was quite what we had in mind when we ordered it.

When we started eating it, we were even further disappointed.

The goat’s cheese was flavourless and actually reminded me of ricotta in its texture. It had nothing of the pungent, earthy tones you normally get with even the cheapest of goat’s cheeses.

The roasted capsicum was also flavourless. Roasted vegetables normally makes them a lot sweeter and makes them pack more of a flavour punch. This was like chewing on slimy, soggy nothing. When the waiter came to clear the plate he did ask if we wanted anything else. We conveyed the lack of flavour. He then tried to tell us that the capsicum was marinated in garlic, so maybe that was why the flavour was different. When we said that surely that should have meant there was some kind of flavour, as opposed to an extreme lack of flavour, he then conceded that he wasn’t really impressed with it either.

Home-made Bruchetta.

Home-made Bruchetta.

As a bit of an experiment, the next day we replicated the dish, with significantly better results and at a fraction of the exorbitant cost for flavourless cardboard. The cheese was creamy and full of that lovely flavour that you expect from goat’s cheese. The roasted capsicum wasn’t even home-made. It came out of a jar from the store and not even a specialty store! Just a supermarket. The bread was also just from the supermarket.

Now, I don’t normally give you an idea of food that I eat at home, because it’s not exactly what this blog is for, but I thought I needed to show you the glaring differences between the two dishes. Also, if I can make this at home for less and have it turn out better (keeping in mind that I’m not really a cook or chef), then surely it stands to reason that a kitchen at an eating establishment should be able to get it right.

Also, as it has been said over and over in cooking show currently on television, the simpler a dish is, the harder it is to hide imperfections. Bruchetta is so incredibly easy, and actually so very difficult to get wrong, that I have to tell you all to really not bother with this dish at Little Creatures. In fact, glancing at the rest of the menu, there is nothing at all that makes me think I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and give them another go. I will drink their beer, but insofar as the food is concerned – steer clear.

Establishment Details:

Little Creatures

40 Mews Road
Fremantle WA 6160

(08)9430 5555

Santa Fe.

I found photos on my phone. I know where they came from, but I am not sure of when. It has to have been in the last two months, but more detail than that I am sorry I cannot give you. I do, however, clearly remember the food!

Santa Fe is a little restaurant in Subiaco that does Mexicana. I have to say. I didn’t hold much hope for the quality. It is my experience that when you hear “mexican food” most people think of those disasterous things out of packages from the supermarket. While I have not had the pleasure of eating mexican food in its place of origin, I have had a Mexican cook for me, and it was an eye-opener to say the least. Such complexity of flavour, that I was not prepared for. One day, I hope to eat in Mexico. One day…

They have a happy hour (6-7pm – 2 for 1 margaritas and cocktails) most nights and Taco Tuesday ($2 tacos!!!). Taco Tuesday, for those who like their tacos, is a glorious thing to behold. They don’t make smaller or less filled tacos simply because it’s a “special”. They are just as good as any other day of the week.

But I get ahead of myself.

Santa Fe Buffalo Wings.

Buffalo Wings.

Start with the buffalo wings. Don’t question it. Just do it. They are deliciously sticky and just … delicious. Not too spicy, for those still coming to terms with spice and heat in food, but interesting enough to keep you wanting more. In fact, get more than one plate if you are sharing with a friend. You’ll need them.

You get six to a plate, with a generous amount of ranch sauce on the side. The greenery can be well and truly forgotten, but really, it’s the meat we’re all after, isn’t it? Trust me. Your taste buds will thank you for it.

Santa Fe Taco.

Santa Fe Tacos.

Now, the tacos come in the choices of shredded beef (my personal favourite), chicken and bean. I didn’t really like the bean mix when I had it last. I find that a lot of places tend to offer “vegetarian” options as an afterthought, but I would have expected a cuisine who has such an emphasis on beans to have something better than the usual. Sadly, this wasn’t it. The chicken is nice, but again lack luster. The shredded beef is where it is at. It’s moist, not overly-seasoned and melts in your mouth. Sadly, what actually lets these tacos down is the tomato and lettuce that accompanies the meat. The three times I have been, it has never been properly spun, so they do tend to go soggy if they sit for too long. Solution? Eat them up nice and quickly, don’t order too many at once. The staff are attentive enough that you could always wave them over and order more if you decide to.

I didn’t have any of the cocktails, though glancing at their alcohol menu, their list of tequilas would be something to work your way through. They have some very nice ones indeed. Perhaps that can be for another outing. Oh darn, looks like I’m having more buffalo wings some time in the future!

Establishment Details:

Santa Fe Restaurant and Tequila Lounge.

315 Hay Street,

Subiaco, W.A. 6008.

(08) 9381 2571

www.santaferestaurant.com.au/

Spencer Village.

What’s that old saying? When you’re on to a good thing, stick to it? Yeah, I think that’s the one.

Spencer Village is one of those hidden treasures you will never stumble across by yourself. You have to be shown by one who knows.

It is, in essence, a food court with approximately 12 different vendors all vie-ing for your palate. Indonesian, Malay, Japanese, Indian, Singaporean, Kuala Lumpa style food. It’s so much choice you will find it difficult to make a decision. There are some stand-out dishes that you should try though.

The Dosai from the little paratha store tucked away in the rear left corner is lovely, as is the murtabak and the paratha and gravy (curry gravy, which is just the liquid).

Next to that vendor is one that you simply must try the Chai Tow Kway. It is a fried dish with a yam that is a little sweet, and just all round delicious.

There are more, but it was the murtabak and dosai that I really really was wanting when I went Sunday just passed.

Sadly, by the time we got there (just after lunchtime) they were all out of roti (various breads of India). This just goes to show that they do make it fresh, which means it’s lovely but also means that everyone wants it. Tip: get there earlier rather than later.

So, we ordered the prawn noodle soup from the Singapore food stand with the plate of dumplings, and later had the Chai Tow Kway. Yes. We were that hungry.

Now, this is not your usual food court. There are sections to sit in and there are only big long wooden tables. It is highly likely that if there are only one or two of you, you will be sharing your table with another party at some point. It is also a good idea to set one person to hold the table you want, and then others go and find their food. If you’re eating in, the vendor will want your table number (on a badge pressed into it) so they can deliver it to you. Then you can play tag with the person who was holding the table. If you do have a large group of people, it is a nice idea to get a handful of dishes to share. There are lots of them that lend themselves to this style of eating, rather than one person, one dish. It’s also a bit more social that way.

Spencer Village Singapore style roll.

Spencer Village Poh-Pia.

While we were waiting for the soup and dumplings to arrive, we went and got a Malaysian style roll called Poh-pia. It is quite similar to a vietnamese rice paper roll, but the wrapper is cooked and so the fresh ingredients inside are a little warmed through. also there is sauce in the inside, which means you don’t get the bit of taste, bit of no taste, that sometimes happens with vietnamese ones.

They were delicious. At first you think the wrapper might be a little dry, but when you have a couple more sections, and as the sauce inside starts to wet the ingredients, it all makes sense. I could have just had about ten of these. They are really lovely and fresh. Not too much sauce and you can really tell that the vegetables and meat inside are lovely and fresh.

As an entree this works really well. It gets the mouth watering just enough, but isn’t so powerful in flavour that the following dishes seem lacking. I can highly recommend them. And, as soon as I remember which stall they came from, I shall share with you. I blame my stomach for my forgetfulness! Sorry. 🙂 EDIT: they came from the dim-sum stall., as did the poh-pia.

Spencer Village Prawn Noodle Soup and Dumplings.

left: Prawn noodle soup. right: dumplings.

When the prawn noodle soup arrived, both myself and my dining partner were disappointed. The picture at the stall had looked so good, and while it wasn’t what we were initially wanting, it seemed like a good second choice dish. The picture had the soup looking nice and red with loads of prawn dust, plenty of large prawns and the broth looked lovely and spicy. What arrived, however, was bland, void of prawn dust and had two small prawns placed on top. The broth didn’t taste prawn-y to me and I found it all very … meh. The green vegetable was just large chunks obviously boiled in the broth, and the couple of slices of meat thrown in did nothing to lift the soup at all. It was rather disappointing indeed.

The dumplings were another dish that failed to make the grade. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t stellar. There was a pleasing sensation as you bit into the dumpling and the sauce exploded into your mouth. Beyond that, they were a bit blah. The wrapper was too thick and a bit chewy. The filling just wasn’t interesting. There was enough of them, that’s for sure. I guess if you were having these as a side with a nice spicy dish it would go better.

Spencer Village Char Kuey Teow.

Chai Tow Kway.

Disappointed with our “make-do” meal, we decided to get one of our fail-safes: the Chai Tow Kway. Gosh I love this dish. It’s fried. It’s sweet AND it’s a vegetable so you can make believe it’s healthy! I am not a fan of egg generally, but you barely notice it in this dish. It’s not spicy, but there is so much flavour you will be amazed. If you only ever try one dish at Spencer Village (and they’ve run out of roti at the Indian stand) then make it this one.

I shall periodically be trying other dishes from Spencer Village, in the hopes to try everything at least once. Don’t be too surprised if there is one giant post from a very stuffed Perth Amateur Food Critic in the not too distant future.

Establishment Details:

Spencer Village Food Court.

Spencer Road,

Thornlie, W.A. 6108