Together, these trends shift ubiquitous gaming culture toward a
more massively collaborative co-production and reproduction of ludic affordances. They
indicate the historical emergence of an open ubiquitous game network, through which a
massively-scaled community of players are empowered to create their own real little
games and to develop their own more gameful reality.
These accidental and intentional hacks to the puppet master system signify a
momentum toward applying an open-source philosophy of play to the real world, a
momentum also observed in the explosion of grassroots alternate reality games and the
demonstrated ability of ARG players to continue perceiving patterns of their games after
the games have ended.
For players, then, the pleasures and challenges of real-world
gaming missions are very much the pleasures and challenges of dramatic performance.
flash mobs, which like reality-based superhero games are mission-based and
authored by an anonymous puppet-master, as offering a kind of middle ground between
reality and optionality.
The designers and gamers who embrace the puppet master model are
establishing together a new criterion for realism in gameplay.a psychological realism
that perfectly complements the .immersed in reality. aesthetic of ubiquitous gaming.
For Caillois, .this
latitude of the player,. or well-defined scope for freedom of action, confirms that
autonomy is the phenomenological heart of play (8).
In Rules of Play, Salen and Zimmerman observe: .Games create social contexts in
which, very often, behaviors take place that would be strictly forbidden in society at
They point to a variety of popular games that .permit and often encourage
normally taboo behavior..such as the folk game Spin the Bottle, which allows romantic
intimacy outside the context of a romantic relationship; the party game Twister, which
encourages players to invade each other.s personal space; the board game Diplomacy,
which explicitly permits lying and backstabbing; the competitive computer game
Counter-Strike, which promotes aggressive trash-talking among players; and the
massively-multiplayer game The Sims Online, which allows for gender-crossing role play
(478). All of these game-based interactions, according to Salen and Zimmerman,
represent .forbidden play. (478).
the player is not only creating a physical
representation of a virtual act, but also pointing out that the computer function is itself
conceived linguistically as a virtual representation of a physical act.
crudely constructed, obviously homemade, but also capable of
provoking a moment of ludic frisson for the person who finds it among the commercial
The missions are created to demonstrate just how often the external reality will submit to
the ludic desires generated by the game.
However, in all cases, the mission
continues until a team has established dramatic .proof., the term used to refer to the
digital documentation of staged interventions, that the environment has yielded to their
the superheroic feeling of a Go Gamer arises
through a reverse transitional play.
In the essay .Playing and Reality., Winnicott identifies a form of child.s play called
transitional play, in which the player wonders if he or she exerts an extraordinary,
.magical control. over everything in the environment (47).
These open-ended challenges are also
called .creative missions..creative in the sense that the players are building their own
interactive systems. The puppet master provides the mechanic, but the players provide the
context and the parts.
But what kind of interaction would be most satisfying? We opted for a
combination of close observation, physical stunt, and public art intervention.
As did .Fill the Frame., the .Face First. mission augmented the built environment.
this time, with symbols and tool.in order to make such a satisfying interaction possible.
Since the affordance of an empty frame is to be filled, the mission that naturally
suggested itself around this sculpture took the form of a public art intervention.
Both the explicit use of the term .heroic. and the
decision to call games challenges .missions. evokes the language of superhero texts.
The game offers to reveal the
true nature not only of the city, but also of the players.
an environment that is pulsing with ludic
ARGs adopt the real world as a platform for play, RBSGs are designed to help players
experience real life as a platform for play.
Rushkoff argues that games, by exposing the nature and malleability of their
systems, in fact encourage gamers to see the entire world as their open source playground.
Because real life doesn.t come with a
help file, Lee explained, players must figure out the rules of the game on their own.
performing a belief in the game, players serve as active co-producers of the game.s
illusion and co-constructors of its ludic frame.
Ultimately, the ability to detect the game among things that claim to be
real, rather than detecting the real that intrudes on the game, is the true challenge of
ubiquitous games like The Beast.
The TINAG rhetoric was
not taken as a denial of gameness, but rather as an expansion of the definition of what a
game can be.
The Rise of Network Society, Manuel Castells describes the coming culture of real
virtuality as a world .where make believe is belief in the making. (375).
emergent phenomenon, I will consider the three primary elements of the ludic system that
produced it: ubiquitous gaming.s interactive platform, it aesthetics, and its community
structures.all of which, I will argue, seek to virtualize reality by bringing the
technological, formal, and social limits of play into a more intimate and flexible relation
with everyday life, respectively.
The clarity of a
game mechanic is proposed as an alternative to the often alienating complexity and
inscrutability of everyday events and encounters.
Multiplayer gameplay is proposed as an
alternative to passive reception of media content, and as an alternative to social isolation
both in the private and the public sphere.
Indeed, the greatest
evidence of the computer science revolution predicted by Xerox PARC is found currently
in the category of massively multi-player works I call ubiquitous games.
What makes games .exceptionally tasty., or
fun, according to Koster, is their design as formal systems that strip away much of the
noise of everyday reality. A good game makes it challenging, but ultimately possible, to
discern the essential signal of its interactive pattern
In A Theory of Fun, game designer Raph
Koster argues that pattern recognition is in fact the quintessence of all gameplay.
media theorist N. Katherine Hayles writes: .Virtuality is the cultural perception that
material objects are interpenetrated by information patterns. (69).
Cultures are made up of
communications processes,. he writes,
and all forms of communication, as Roland Barthes and Jean Baudrillard
taught us many years ago, are based on the production and consumption of
Kuhn calls the successful emergence of a conceptual framework that
fundamentally changes scientific practice a paradigm shift.
pervasive gaming most closely approaches truly ubiquitous play and
performance in its ability to teach and to inspire others to draw their own magic circles
imitating an art project is perceived as an innocuous
public act, whereas playing a secret game was considered a sign of possible malicious
It resituates this desire in
a more critical context, where novel technological concepts are deployed as metaphors
rather than mediating platforms for social engagement. The result is a new urban gaming
agenda: to enact social reconfiguration through technological critique.
the inability of digital
semblances to replicate the diversity of direct experiences afforded by physical objects
Gold's first slide reads: "In societies where modern conditions
of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of
'spectacles'. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into representation. -
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle" ().
urban landscapes contribute to our
own formulation of identity, community, and self
Whereas computer emulators are designed to allow us to play
games from the past, could ubicomp emulators let us play games from a hoped-for
The main challenge of ubiquitous computing is to envision smart environments that
provide a reasonable advantage for people using it, without violating the social and legal
rules of our society and life. (371)
Games become the platform for discovering the weaknesses of a technological
system so that it can be re-designed and re-engineered.not for better play, but for better
In .Open House., a 1996 essay for New York
University.s Interactive Telecommunications Program Review, Weiser claims: .The
defining words of ubiquitous computing will not be .intelligent. or .agent., but rather
.invisible. and .calm. and .connection.. (1). 129
in fact only invisible in the real-world. It is perfectly visible in the virtual environment!
This distinction creates a clear incentive for virtual participation rather than material
extent that ubicomp values an .escape from the screen., ubicomp games do not seem to
have been very successful to date at making that escape (Wellner et al 24).
Indeed, this fear of loss of control is what Rich Gold evokes in his classic ubicomp
presentation: .How Smart Does Your Bed Have to Be Before You.re Afraid to Go to
Sleep at Night?.
In a paper titled .Intimate (Ubiquitous)
Computing., they write:
This next era is predicated on a sense that the appliances and algorithms of
the future will respond better to our needs, delivering .smarter. more
context-appropriate, computing power. Underlying such a vision is the
notion that computers in their many forms will be pervasive and
anticipatory. Arguably, to achieve this, computing appliances will have to
become more intimate, more knowing of who we are and what we desire,