[-empyre-] Urban games/Mixed reality Games

Anne Marie Schleiner opensorcery at opensorcery.net
Thu Mar 28 17:42:13 EST 2013

On 24/3/2013 11:14 PM, Claudia Pederson wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> With Anne-Marie joining the conversation shortly, and after going 
> through internet games (Paolo), ARGs (Ken), and other brief mentions 
> of games operating in virtual and real spaces (Anna), I would like to 
> pick up on the thread of urban games/urban interventions/mixed reality 
> as yet another strategy of intervention that I find particularly 
> exciting. Anne-Marie, as you share your work with us, would you please 
> also reference games in this 'genre' that you find compelling?
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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Sorry I think the first version of this got cut off  by my dying laptop 
battery on send--anyway this version has links: To respond a bit more 
directly to Claudia's question about mixed reality and urban games, my 
own game art performance projects with  a kind of proto mixed reality 
started from an activist thread in my work---which has for some time ran 
in parallel to a more game design thread. After Velvet-Strike, which was 
a collaborative set of anti-war digital graffiti and virtual actions 
inside online military shooter games (mostly Counter-Strike) I thought 
it would be apt to take similar kinds of counter-gaming and ludic 
activism from the web back to the actual street and experiment with 
mobile projections on different facades/neighborhoods, combining 
electronic protest with more old fashioned street activism.  As an 
intervention in the 2004 Republican Convention in New York City, I 
organized a project called O.U.T. (Operation Urban Terrain) 
http://www.opensorcery.net/OUT/, with a set of talented collaborators 
like Chris Birke (former Counter-strike mod development team) and Pierre 
Rahola (anti-war player active on French Team fortress games), and Elke 
Marhoefer (Berlin based artist I had met at residency in Germany) and 
others talented game creators.

The story of this project, all the participants, the M.O.U.T. military 
operational urban tactics style of militainment games that it intervened 
in, and footage of the massive street protests at that time in NY, is on 
a homemade video documentary I made distributed through the Video Data 
Bank (and the performance was produced by Creative Time). The live 
street performance took place at three locations in NY including Harlem 
(each matched to a corresponding location/building in Americas Army) 
where we had kids spontaneously come and "play dead" with the projection 
of the game, in Midtown where a police car drove up and watched a while 
but luckily---unlike many other activists and artists in NY at that time 
--we didn't get arrested for not good reason, and finally in Brooklyn 
where two  enemy game soldiers dancing to Michael Jackson were projected 
large screen onto the Manhatten Bridge.

This was before widespread mobile social media coverage of protests so 
even though there were so many people from all over the world protesting 
in NY then the mainstream media presented very little coverage of what 
was a very intense moment for everybody in post 911 NY.  This was also 
just before mobile projectors became available and one of us, of the two 
women team consisting of me and Elke, had to truck around a big 
projector connected to a kind car battery on her back while the other 
played the game controls on a laptop. (and we were wirelessly connected 
to 5 other players around the country).

Later I developed another project along similar lines (two woman mobile 
game urban intervention) in collaboration with 
fabric/performance/installation artist Talice Lee, who designed soft 
protective "riot gear" clothing for us to wear while rollerskating. In 
this project we had  with a small lighter projector on our head and 
portable playstations  running machinima stories about police violence 
against immigrants.   The topic this project took on (Riot Gear for 
Rollartista) was the lack of protection and rights for immigrants and 
increased police powers since the War on Terror---particulariy in 
Europe---and was inspired by a group of young Morrocan boys (male 
prostitutes?) I had seen in a line up being inspected by police in a 
courtyard Barcelona Spain in June 2004..  Each machinima video  of the 3 
in Riot Gear for Rollartista is dedicated to different real life 
immigrant victim of the police in Europe or the UK.

We performed this twice, once on streets of the small city of Castellon 
Spain at the occasion of a cyberfeminist exhibit and another time in 
Manchester, UK at a show curated by Kathy Rae Huffman then at 
Cornerhouse gallery ...this project although successful in some ways was 
not so good at getting its message across---although we did a workshop 
with some teenagers in Manchester, out on the street we tended to 
attract young kids who just were wowed by the portable game aspect of it 
(too young to talk about the police/immigrant issue)..and the blog never 
seemed to get much attention. Plus a city wide ban on rollerskating in 
Manchester  meant our performances were late night and clandestine, and 
also the  bumpy cobblestones got in the way of our tricks we had 
practiced (I had been practicing in a park in Mexico City )---why in 
Manchester do they bother banning skating when they have cobblestones 

So anyway this has been my own experience with urban play and mixed 
reality, via a particular performance art and ludic activist thread in 
my former art practice. The mixed reality game part was sort of 
proto---I tried to pick settings in the games to project onto buildings 
that blended together interestingly and design our look so that we 
looked sort of like game characters walking around in real life. The 
Japanese near future science fiction series I mentioned in my earlier 
post, Dennoi Coil, is more of a proper mixed reality technology, in a 
way that is very similar to Nintendo 3ds or Google's AR googles that 
superimposes virtual elements onto a photographic view of the environment.

I always liked the UK group Blast Theory's urban games 
http://www.blasttheory.co.uk/bt/index.php but most recent mixed reality 
games are fairly empty experiences even when evaluated aas pure 
entertainment, more about the wow AR or mixed reality factor, though the 
Iphone Zombies Run game app, https://www.zombiesrungame.com/which I have 
never played (not an Iphone person) sounds interesting in in that it may 
provide a more intense immersive experience somewhat similar to Blast 
Theories early chase game, "Can you see me now?"


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