A Real Little Game.doc

A Real Little Game.doc - A Real Little Game The Performance...

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A Real Little Game: The Performance of Belief in Pervasive Play Jane McGonigal Department of Theater, Dance & Performance Studies University of California at Berkeley 130 Dwinelle Annex, Berkeley, CA 94704 USA [email protected] ( ) ABSTRACT Ubiquitous computing and mobile network technologies have fueled a recent proliferation of opportunities for digitally-enabled play in everyday spaces. In this paper, I examine how players negotiate the boundary between these pervasive games and real life. I trace the emergence of what I call “the Pinocchio effect” – the desire for a game to be transformed into real life, or conversely, for everyday life to be transformed into a "real little game.” Focusing on two examples of pervasive play – the 2001 immersive game known as the Beast, and the Go Game, an ongoing urban superhero game — I argue that gamers maximize their play experience by performing belief, rather than actually believing, in the permeability of the game-reality boundary. Keywords Pervasive play, immersive games, gaming reality, performance studies. INTRODUCTION Last March, I had the opportunity to give a brief talk on the topic of pervasive play at an international colloquium for digital researchers, engineers and artists. 1 As I hurried through my PowerPoint presentation — as usual, at least a few slides too many — my tongue started to have trouble keeping up with my laptop. Despite the difficulty, I ventured on in pursuit of my immediate goal: to convey to the audience the often overlooked difference between the general category of pervasive play and the more particular sub-genre of immersive games . Pervasive play, I explained, consists of “mixed reality” games that use mobile, ubiquitous and embedded digital technologies to create virtual playing fields in everyday spaces. Immersive games, I continued, are a form of pervasive play distinguished by the 1 030303: Collective Play, a research colloquium organized by the Center for New Media at the University of California at Berkeley and co-sponsored by the University of California Digital Arts Research Network and Intel Research Labs, March 3, 2003. added element of their (somewhat infamous) “This is not a game” rhetoric. They do everything in their power to erase game boundaries – physical, temporal and social — and to obscure the metacommunications that might otherwise announce, “This is play.” Shortly after I finished this opening explanation, slides advancing but tongue
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retreating, verbal disaster struck. I opened my mouth to say “pervasive” while my brain stuck on “immersive,” and out popped a hybrid moniker: “ perversive gaming.” The slip was met with knowing chuckles, and I was struck by the aptness, in my audience’s eyes, of the accidental phrase. Perverse -ive gaming. Yes , I imagined many of them thinking, there is definitely something perverse about pervasive and immersive play.
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  • Spring '15
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