Digital gaming within an urban context can bring together people and place in a connected lived experience which links to historic forms of artistic expression and play. In ‘Merging Digital and Urban Play Spaces’ (2009), the authors suggest ‘communication, collaboration and social interaction can occur in a combination of the physical and the digital’ (p.1). Digital games fall into categories linked to levels of engagement with reality both spatially, temporally, through interaction with other people and also type of digital connectivity. Pervasive games refers to activities extending into reality in the manner of historical characters the ‘flaneur'(p.8) and later the ‘phoneur’ who moved through urban spaces in a ludic form which disrupted and modified the normal flow of people. Location based mixed reality, Augmented reality and Big games are played through a combination of online and location aware technology. Players interact with each other in physical locations, informed by GPS and Cellular positioning.
The game Ingress is an augmented-reality massively multiplayer online location-based game created by Google and Niantic Inc. Players use cell phones to log into a Google Maps-based interface to highlight “portals” around their location, which the game’s two factions must fight to control. When a player is near a portal, they can take it over and set up virtual defences. The opposing factions in the game are based around a ‘good and evil’ world domination format which sets people up to take control of geographic locations.
The app requested access to my address book(which I declined but put my own email in to proceed), this indicates the Google corporate data mining objectives of the game.
Playing on iPhone from a location in Halifax gave me a map of the area around the hotel and a triangle of operation for locating game elements and attempting to link them defensively. There was also the possibility of locating other players in the vicinity. Physically moving towards locations guided by the on screen pointer gives ‘portal’ interaction.
View from room window Premier Inn Halifax 17.5.16
Ingress tutorial from YouTube
As the game was played during a trip back to the town of my childhood home, I was struck by the perspective of Hjorth(2011) in highlighting a relationship between notions of home and the digital in the game context.
‘Far from eroding a sense of home and kinship ties, mobile technologies are reinforcing notions of locality and place. Indeed mobile, networked technologies – under the rubric of mobile media – not only transform how we experience place'(p.368)
An augmented reality version of the town centre of Halifax was certainly an interesting experience physically and emotionally.
De Souza e Silva, A, and D. M. Sutko, eds. (2009) Digital Cityscapes: Merging Digital and Urban Playscapes. New York: Peter Lang: 1-17
Hjorth, L. (2011). Mobile@game cultures: The place of urban mobile gaming. Sage Convergence, 17(4), 357-371.
Montola et al Pervasive games: Theory and designhttps://pervasivegames.wordpress.com/