[-empyre-] Urban games/Mixed reality Games

Claudia Pederson ccp9 at cornell.edu
Tue Mar 26 02:11:03 EST 2013

Thank you Anne-Marie for your update and congratulations on finishing your
PhD (I concur with the long process bit along with you get to learn a
lot).  I already posted a question for you about your urban games (O.U.T.
in NYC and the game you did in Spain I believe, around issues of
immigration). I would like to hear more about similar games if you know any
(Mary Flanagan also wrote elsewhere about urban games but more in relation
to relational aesthetics). I was also wondering about your Playable Art
class inside minecraft (which Anna already mentioned in a call for projects
a while ago); What are students engage in doing within the game?

I was at the game show at MOMA last thursday, and indeed no women artists;
on that note, players were mostly young boys accompanied by their mothers;
on the other hand, the show is all about applied design,and altogether a
odd medley of videogames (from 'classics' to Eve online ), a giant internet
vizualization printed on the wall ; a jar 'made' by bees, lots of paper
chairs, a landmine detonator, etc.; the rationale, if there is one, is not
clear to me.

You mention that you are looking at games in the global south; I would to
hear more about this. A while ago I found Ivan Abreu's Cross Coordinates
(2010), a quite remarkable project centered on a game of balance with an
online component that he did in El Paso, Juarez. See:
http://crosscoordinates.org/; though I am not familiar with anyone working
on videogames as you mention in more recent dates.

On Sun, Mar 24, 2013 at 1:18 PM, opensorcery at opensorcery.net <
opensorcery at opensorcery.net> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear Empyreans,
> Thanks for the invite and look forward to jumping into what have been
> interesting discussions this month, which strangely enough (I haven’t been
> able to catch up till now) often quite directly intersect with what I have
> been discussing in parallel over this last month with my students at the
> National University of Singapore, who in my Playable Art class recently
> introduced me to Anna Anthropy’s transgendering game (while two other
> students chose to do their presentations on Molleindustria—hi Paolo if you
> are still reading—havent seen you since Gijon Spain ..many of your games
> are very popular in Singapore, and except for Macdonalds game, for the
> right reasons:-)) .  And in my other class, Critical Game Design, the
> students were surprisingly enthused to read  and critique(surprisingly
> because in that class the students are a majority computer science
> students) Gonzalo Frasca’s visionary Videogames of the Oppressed on their
> blogs, where we are also experimenting with running the class inside
> Minecraftedu and thinking about the intersection and tensions between game
> design and learning theories..
> Anyway, to put the teaching aside which is fun but overwhelming (semester
> almost over gasp) let me share a few thoughts on games and art.  I am not
> sure whether to take a more personal, academic or somewhere in between
> approach to chiming in on the topic. In another recent parallel discussion,
> I was chatting with a feminist writer friend of mine on Skype who was
> writing an article about the exclusion of women gamemakers from  the recent
> Paola Antonelli MOMA show in New York and we sort of went epoch by epoch
> over the last 30 years of the games industry…from arcade games to modded PC
> games to more recent casual Indie art games, and speculated about why this
> continues to happen and also about those brief exceptions (I learned from
> Ms. Stratford that the old arcade classic Centipede was designed by a
> woman!)..and during our conversation I found I could not even remember the
> name of my most recent game I made last summer that was shown in an exhibit
> in Mexico (it was late at night for me)—ie I am off my own radar as a game
> designer/artist lately. (it was called Colony Collapse Disorder and was  a
> serious game about obstacles to bee pollination btw—my first ever game I
> made that kids liked—teaching game design these last few years has had some
> results—maybe I should go back and redesign my old art games:-))
> Recently I finished writing a long distance phd in a Cultural Analysis
> program in Amsterdam called “Ludic Mutation: The Player’s Power to Change
> the Game” where I tried to take a step back and look at the last fifteen
> years of art games and activist games, including my own practice, from a
> more critical perspective and to develop a better understanding of both of
> some of the tactics available so far for “changing the game”, as well as a
> better recognition of the power of the game, whether it is literally a
> computer game or something larger, over its players.  Phenomenologist
> philosopher Hans Georg Gadamer’s quip, that he actually intended  as a
> metaphor for the aesthetic union of an art viewer with an artwork,
> describes the problematic that seems to be evident in especially many
> activist games where critical distance is lost,  when he says  that the
> game plays the player rather the player the game.” Also he  says something
> like we lose ourselves in play.  This tendency for the game’s procedurality
> and hold (also through gamification schemes of marketing and customer
> loyalty) to take over, makes its hard to get that Brechtian critical
> distance and alienation Gonzalo identified as necessary in his initial
> proposal for Games of the Oppressed, although I do think there are ways to
> do this and to break the game’s spell over the player.  (BTW Boal’s Rainbow
> of Desire workshops for the affluent world where people have psychological
> problems, not economic ones, to oversimplify his logic, reminded me a lot
> of Brody Condon’s Nordic L.A.R.P  game performances and self-indulgent
> seventies style new age workshop  parodies…some funny game art potential
> there too)
> To sum up the results of my  phd writing project which went on for far too
> many summers and weekends, (but I did learn a lot largely due to my patient
> , flexibly minded and brilliant supervisor, Mireille Rosello) I basically
> arrived at two different sorts of resistant play—one that steps outside
> “the system” and plays a different game, (here I tried with limited success
> to see if political philosopher Hannah Arendt's proposal for a “Space of
> Appearance” where political action and unfolding aesthetic performances
> converge, could be stretched to include games.. but also similar to Hakim
> Bey’s TAZ’s and Italian radical exodus..).  An example is Web 1 games like
> KiSS free digital dolls where players were free to become other genders,
> animals etc because no family or boss on facebook  (or demanding guild in
> the World of Warcraft) was watching them online  like nowadays in the more
> social sticky realm of Web 2.
> And play tactic number two that surfaced repeatedly was playful resistance
> from within, within what could be a system at a variety of scales, from
> patriarchal military games to a city or a state.  When I ran into Joseph
> Delappe in NY a few years ago for the Returning Fire launch I think I
> shared with him a chapter I was writing contrasting military approaches to
> “playing the city” in militainment games, which since 911 became about
> asymmetrical warfare and  biocontrol of populations centers (cities) vs. a
> more culture jamming artistic approach to occupying/hacking the city
> following in the footsteps of  the Parisian Situationists to North American
> hacktivism to game performances both on and offline ( I wrote about my
> collaborative project Velvet-strike in that chapter too--a bit of a shift
> to analyse my own work).
> The last part of that writing was a lot about cities as the setting for
> resistant play—and here I found it helpful to align myself with a
> biopolitical stance that refuses what I see as a false choice between
> either a. a leftist critique of capital and neoliberalism or b. a rightist
> critique of the state. So in the last chapter I brought varied formulations
> of  biopolitical theory (Foucault, Agamben, Arendt) to bear on the analysis
> of population control vs. paidic play in to Mitsuo Iso’s Japanimation
> series, Dennoi Coil, where mixed reality glasses very similar to Google’s
> AR glasses are given away freely to all the cities’ children.  These
> children play mixed reality games non-stop around the city--some that
> resist—and others that step outside the data cloud and the mixed reality
> tagged municipal grid into more old fashioned but liberating “obsolete
> space” (makes me nostalgic for  Web 1—I am showing my age), so both play
> tactics #1 and #2 in those futureware mixed reality games.
> Anyway, now I am trying to find publishers, a bit in negotiation and
> uncertain—hard to see if I can do enough revisions to make them happy for a
> non phd thesis reader, so in the meantime I started another book proposal
> called “Remixing the Game in the Global South” based on a sixth chapter
> that never made into the original about ludic artists like Rene Hayashi
> who I have met in Latin America (especially Mexico when I lived there) and
> also about Games for Change by (not charities for) people living in the
> South ie outside the first world in economically challenged regions faced
> with postcolonial inequities and sprawling megacities, and also related to
> the open design movement that is in full swing in Indonesia’s smaller
> cities, a country which is right next to where I live in Singapore and has
> sort of become my and my husband (game artist Luis Hernandez’)  second
> Southeast Asian home these last 5 years while  in exile from the States,
> (which is another more personal story related to games and art—btw I think
> we can both finally visit back there soon).
> Maybe if there is a lull I will post my rough new book proposal that is
> finally coming together this weekend.
> I look forward to hearing your thoughts, and by mentioning the people I
> know already in this excessively overlong first post I do not mean exclude
> the interesting comments so far coming from those I dont!
> Cheers,
> Anne-Marie Schleiner
> Ps. On a side note, we had the opportunity to witness the launch of Tale of
> Tales recent Margerite Duras inspired game Bientot L’Ete in Gent, Belgium
> this winter—they gave us an amazing  tour in the Gent Cathedral about
> spatial inspiration for game design…and Auriea Harvey is another one of
> those rare women game designers, though at the time I didn’t think to say
> anything of it.
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