Monday, 26 October 2009

Gaming at Large Scale


Real world gaming with the help of mobile gadgets with GPS are high up this week. This weekends Saturday Guardian Guide points to a gaming event that will take place over the next weekend simultaneously in three locations across the UK.
It is once more a sign of the upcoming section of location-interactive-real-world-games. Those are together with the availability of gadgets popular and also develop into more mass compatible storyboards and technologies. In an other post on real-world games HERE, looked at reinterpreted old classics.
The announced event ‘greatstreetgames’ will take place between 29 October and the 1 November simultaneously in Gateshead, Sunderland and Middlesbrough. It is set up as a competition between the three places, but anyone can join any team, it is open to the public.
Basically it will consist of a large play field projected in each location where players collect points by collecting ‘virtual’ balls. It will be a best of five series each game lasting 90 seconds. The city with the most points wins. Surprisingly the official web pages do not make a very big deal out of it. THere is very little information to be found outside the world of techies and geeks.

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Image by KMA via Pruned

It is designed by KMA, collaboration between Kit Monkman and Tom Wexler. They introduce their work as follow “KMA’s work creates large, immersive, sometimes networked, ‘digital playgrounds’, in which distinctions between audiences and performers disappear. The resulting social engagements reaffirm the urban community through embodied, rather than verbal, discourse.”
The project has already featured on Pruned and was embedded in a lovely story envisioning the encounter with the projected game field as something one might stumble across in the darkness of the vast city, something that might be a discovery.
However this game is locally very confined to a rather small space as the visualisations suggest. You wont need the GPS to play, maybe to find it, if you were texted the latest location for today’s game. Nevertheless, it does connect over a large distance the three cities. From the available descriptions it is difficult to grasp how much interaction is possible between the locations, but this definitely would be the most interesting aspect. Maybe someone in Sunderland will snatch your virtual ball and drop it in their own box.
To some extend the game proposal reminds me of the ‘Where is Wally’ scene with the six team football.

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Image by KMA via Pruned

As it looks, Hollywood also has realized that there is something changing in the world of gamers and games. They have implemented the aspect of real people in a virtual game for quite a while, probably because it makes of simple plots. The latest version is the ‘Gamer’ movie directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. What they haven’t yet realised is the spatial aspect of the emergent street games and with it the importance of the location.
But probably this is the point, a game is not a movie, you are not entertained, you are entertaining as you play the game.

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