Image by Alex Raynes-Goldie
On July 25, Atmosphere Industries will bring Gentrification: The Game! to life at the Pedestrian Sundays event at the Kensington Market in Toronto, Canada. This critically acclaimed public space game has already been hosted in New York and at the Hide & Seek Festival in London and has won multiple awards, including Best in Fest and Best Use of Technology at this summer’s 2010 Come Out and Play in Brooklyn, New York.
Gentrification: The Game! will give participants the chance to explore their cities and think about issues of urban renewal, local politics, and urban growth. According to their press release, players will be divided into teams of real estate developers and local residents, as they:
fight to collect real-life properties, build chain coffee shops, form BIAs, and bend the neighbourhood to their will. They’ll craft slick advertising campaigns, deliver impassioned speeches, and probably run around a bit. One part real-world Monopoly, one part public-space hacking, and one part pure spectacle, Gentrification helps players and the public think about and enjoy their public space in a new and unexpected way.
Play takes place in rounds, providing each side with different tactics such as “Slightly Creepy But Wise Neighbourhood Guy Gives Impassioned, Poetic Speech” for local residents or my favorite, “Hired Goons” (for developers, of course). Progress during gameplay is monitored both through use of sidewalk chalk and a mobile app. An article in the Toronto Star gives an interesting perspective about why the Kensington Market neighborhood is the right fit for Gentrification: The Game!
Get ready for another exciting edition of Come Out and Play! This New York-based public games festival is gearing up for its 2010 edition, which will be headquartered at the Lyceum in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood June 4-6. The Festival has extended its deadline for submitting games to April 19th, so if you have an idea for a fun game, there’s still time to get involved. The Festival planners are working with game designers to refine their ideas and make sure they fit the location and scope of the event. Past games presented/debuted at COAP include Cruel 2B Kind by Jane McGonigal and Ian Bogost, as well as Jane’s Cryptozoo and the Lost Sport of Olympia, Ken Eklund’s Spy School, and TAH II, which was an extension of TAH, an alternate reality game produced by Cultural Oil.
I spoke recently with Greg Trefry, Festival Co-Founder and the author of “Casual Game Design: Designing Play for the Gamer in ALL of Us,” to get some details on what to expect this year. Greg says there will be a mix of games requiring tech and not, and is very enthusiastic about location-based games that leverage tech like smartphones and apps for play. Festival sponsor SCVNGR, known for their smartphone based geo-gaming tech platform, will be presenting their own game, but CEO/Chief Ninja Seth Priebatsch was not forthcoming with details. “Well, I can’t tell you too much about what we’re going to be showing off (it’s some sweet new features) but in general it’s in the same vein as what SCVNGR’s all about; making building and playing location-based mobile games fun, quick and easy.”
Greg says that while no games have been officially accepted and announced yet, the popular “Circle Rules Football” from last year’s event will be returning, and he expects a great mix of games, including “weird new sports.” He would love to see submissions for ARGs and games that include ARG elements, as he feels location-based games and ARGs dovetail nicely by using the content of the real world and blurring the lines to enrich the experience of gameplay so you’re “not sure if you’re looking at the game any more.” The real world “is the highest resolution thing you’re gonna play,” he notes.