Urban Gaming – The Future of Saturday Night TV?


Urban gaming has direct parallels and connections with the genre traditions of  ‘live’ entertainment shows on mainstream television. This quote from the Blast Theory website  about their urban game ‘I’d Hide You’, could be the strap line for a new prime time Saturday night television gameshow.

‘An online game of stealth and cunning and adventure. Jump onboard with a team of illuminated runners live from the streets as they roam the city trying to film each other’. http://www.blasttheory.co.uk/projects/id-hide-you/http:/

Television broadcasters are always hungry for new forms programme making, new ways of creating content. Could this new form of live, interactive entertainment possibly be part of our Saturday television schedule in the future ?

Hjorth talks about how a  a ‘key feature of Big Games is the way in which the game space interrupts the flows of everyday urban life. Colour, spectacle, and movement come together in Big Games within the urban environment’ (Hjoth 2011: pg 361). Urban gaming as reality television takes on the guise of ‘spectacle’ particularly in the case of ‘I’d Hide You’. In the video for the game the participants were broadcast ‘live’ roaming around Manchester city centre, interacting with the public, with a real sense that ‘anything can happen’. This sense of potentially edgy or dangerous reality unfolding did happen at the end of the video when the sounds can be heard of a possible drunken altercation on the street. Even the title of ‘Big Games’ conjures up a form of gladitorial type of entertainment, as well illustrating the often large geographical space of urban gaming.


It is no surprise that this interconnection of urban gaming with ‘live television’ has been noticed by television broadcasters. It is interesting to note that the BBC were one of the funding partners for the project .This combining of the ‘physical with the virtual ‘– (De Souza, 2009: pg 4) could be a new element of our broadcast television Saturday night entertainment. A new approach to programme making  which explores and challenges ‘conventions and routines that shape the cityscape’ (Hjorth 2011:  pg 358).

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. Convergence, 17(4), 357-371.

BBC Charter 2015. Available at: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/reports/pdf/futureofthebbc2015.pdf

Blast Theory. Available at: http://www.blasttheory.co.uk/

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