Category Archives: Situationism

Web Games in Meatspace

In my last post, I talked about two games which use a very large, dynamic board: the internet. By using the internet as a gamespace, players invent new uses for websites. The playspace is dynamic, always changing. Adaptive, creative strategies win out. Participation leads to exploration.

I have to confess I’ve been pretty plugged into PMOG in the last few days. I’ve enjoyed seeing which websites have been trapped or treasure’d by other players. And I’ve gone on some missions which have taken me to some pretty interesting and unusual spots on the web. But something’s still missing. I’m still anchored here to my computer, wishing these adventures were a bit more tangible. Such is the plight of any gamer whose characters lead more exciting lives than their player. But that’s the clue – PMOG and Wiki Paths blur the lines between game activity and non-game activity by creating a game that overlaps traditional web usage. Why not explore this border in the real world? Let’s imagine some game events which could happen if these passively-multiplayer games took place in 3D.

Several technologies already exist which allow digital interactivity in meatspace. It’s just that nobody’s set up a game (that I ‘ve heard of) which brings all of these elements together. GPS, voice-over-ip, and digital cameras could easily be blended together to transform urban areas into playspaces.

Imagine a game that you play as you make your way through the real world. As you pass an intersection, you receive a text message that there is a chest nearby. You click the link for more info, and see a picture of a nearby mailbox. You walk over to the mailbox and press a button on your phone to collect the loot.

Or maybe I leave a mine along a  busy street. A few hours later, another player walking down the same street is informed that he’s triggered a mine and has lost 10 points. If I respond when it happens, I have the opportunity to send a 15-second taunt via voip.

Maybe I’m hanging out at the library, looking for a specific book whose cover has a scavenger-hunt sticker. If I snap a picture of the sticker, I get to hear the next clue. While I’m searching for the book, I bump into another player who is on the same scavenger hunt mission. We agree to cooperate to find the next clues, and spend the rest of the afternoon navigating the city together. Suddenly the game experience has created a real-world experience. Relationships form. Networks grow. The line between the digital and real worlds has been blurred.

Of course, this presents some new problems. There’s an alchemy involved in meeting strangers, and not all formulas work. I imagine the ten year old player who ends up in a party with drunken teenagers, or the sociopath who lures players into isolated situations to meet them. The stakes of befriending a dangerous person are much higher in the real world than they are on, say, facebook. Controls could be set up to filter out certain players – like maybe you only want to play with other 20 somethings, or only people who go to your college. Maybe there’d be a way to tag problem users so your friends can avoid them.

I imagine puzzles that can only be solved by getting together a party of people. Maybe there’s a spot on a college campus which has treasure buried under it. To find the spot, you’ll need to get together someone who specializes in geocaching (to find the spot), logic problems (to pick the lock on the chest). Maybe you need to bring together certain character classes, sort of like how in fantasy games, a well rounded party needs at least a healer and a tank. When the chest is finally dug up, you snap a pic of your group for a few bonus points and they split the treasure. The person who planted the chest is sent the picture of the groundbreaking discovery.

Faster paced games would be possible too. Maybe I could put treasure in one room on the top floor, and then put killer landmines all over the rest of the building. When you hit a landmine, you’d have to go back outside and push a button to be resurrected. You’d have to use trial and error, teamwork, or creative problem solving to bypass the mines and grab the chest. Teams of players could compete to race to the chest. Or maybe two teams would race each other to the chest, or fight each other in capture-the-flag style matches. Every building, every park, every urban center lends itself to different strategies and tactics. The game is wrapped around real-world geography and therefore real-world problem solving is needed to accomplish game tasks.

One day we’ll be able to play this exciting game, or maybe one like it. The technology already exists and it’s just a matter of time before someone develops the game. And then we’ll be on our way to really having the fabulous, action packed adventures our characters so frequently do.

Welcome to Professor Cramulus’ Fun Lab

Greetings and Beatings, spagwads and spaguettes from the far reaches of the internet. This week I am kicking off a new feature here at Verwirrung. My corner of the blog, which is theoretically going to be regularly updated, will feature a recurring posts about GAMES, PRANKS, JAKES, and MINDFUCKS.

In my column, which is called Professor Cramulus’ Fun Lab, you’ll read about awesome stuff you can do. Like many, I am not satisfied by movies and TV and the various forms of cultural idolatry available in 2009. I prefer hobbies which allow me to participate creatively. To that end, I intend on telling you about pranks, games, and projects which you can actually get involved with. I’d also like to talk about varying forms of Guerilla Surrealism, (culture jamming, situationism, etc) which I consider a delightful form of game.

I’m really interested in games. It’s weird, but I think that as an adult, you have to re-learn how to Play. Play is something that kids do naturally. They can entertain themselves using their imaginations, something that astoundingly few adults remember how to do. Games are a way of connecting us back the kind of wide eyed, hysterical, can’t catch my breath I’m laughing too hard fun we had as kids, but now we have the added brainpower of adulthood.

I’m also interested in pranks. Pranks are sort of like satire. They suggest a funny or surprising twist on reality. They also have the ability to help depict what’s wrong with the world. I’m not generally into altruistic pranks. To me, fun is the bottom line. There’s a sort of altruism there though – the world could use a laugh at its own expense.

So in the coming weeks, this column will explore some of those ideas and many other stupid ones. This week, I’ll give you a simple one by Max Flax, from the Apocrypha Discordia. (page 40)

check it out below the tear…

Continue reading Welcome to Professor Cramulus’ Fun Lab

The new face of radicalism: flash picnics

No, I’m not making this up.

In exactly a week’s time, in a supermarket somewhere in or around Paris, a couple of dozen young French activists are going to choose an aisle, unfold tables, put on some music and, taking what they want from the shelves, start a little picnic. The group “L’Appel et la Pioche” (The call and the pick axe) will have struck again – fruit and veg, dairy or the fish counter will have been transformed into a flash protest against global capitalism, rampant consumerism, bank bail-outs, poor housing, expensive food, profit margins and pretty much everything else that is wrong in the world.

The “supermarket picnic” will go on for as long as it can – before the security guards throw the activists out or the police arrive. Shoppers will be invited to join in, either bringing what they want from the shelves or just taking something lifted lightly from among the crisps, sweets or quality fruit already on the tables.

“L’Appel et la Pioche” have struck four times so far and have no intention of stopping what they claim is a highly effective new way of protesting.

“Everyone is bored of demonstrations. And handing out tracts at 6am at a market is neither effective nor fun,” said Leïla Chaïbi, 26, the leader of the group. “This is fun, festive, non-threatening and attracts the media. It’s the perfect way of getting our message across.”

Linked to a new left-wing political party committed to a renewal of politics and activism, Chaïbi’s group represents more than just a radical fringe and has been gaining nationwide attention.

I’m in ur conspiracy theoriez, doin performance art


The very idea of a 911-TV-Fakery researcher faking their own suicide as a performance art piece is incredibly synchronistic for me given the last year and half’s experience of investigating the mysterious double suicide of conspiratorially minded artists Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake. In that case several folks at the Rigorous Intuition and Dreams End websites and forums were talking about the wild and weird world of Situationist performance art and related artistic movements, some of which seem to involve a lot of parapolitical intrigue that sometimes includes hoaxing, culture-jamming and even the faking of people’s murder or suicide, aka pseudocide. Other discussions centered on the idea of both real-world and online group-stalking and gaslighting of people driving them to perhaps commit suicide. In my interview last year with parapolitical activist, writer and researcher Len Bracken (author of the biography on Situationist movement leader Guy Debord – Revolutionary) I brought up the possible confluence of some of the wilder personalities within the 911 Truth Movement (folks who seem more like performance artists than activists and researchers) and the Situationist and Discordian communities.

Also, a link to the mentioned interview can be found here.