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!
Coming in September, 2006, that ever-progressive Manhattan of the North, Toronto, Ontario, will be hosting a new alternate reality game “of urban exploration and intrigue,” according to TorGame, a non-profit organization based in the city. TorGame bills itself as “dedicated to the exploration of public space, and a unified identity for Torontonians” on its website. It is an all-volunteer operation that, with Waking City, is attempting its first alernate reality game production. Some ARGonauts may recognize the name Tony Walsh in the list of contributors, however, as he collaborated on both seasons of the ARG production “Regenesis” with Xenophile Media.
The game will be played in public spaces out and around the Toronto area, and will include in-game interactions with characters by telephone, email or instant messaging, and in person. In an interesting twist for veteran players, Waking City requires that players form into teams and register their teams before playing. Teams may have from four to seven members and must pay a fee to register which ranges from $100 to $125 (CA) per team. The registration fee is said to only cover expenses of producing the ARG.
TorGames should be commended by local ARGonauts who work during the week for scheduling their planned live events for the weekends. This reporter has been frustrated on many occasions by live events that were held on weeknights or during common working days, making wide participation difficult save for students, those with flexible schedules, or the unemployed.
More information about Waking City and registration sign-up can be found at the official TorGame site.
Tony Walsh’s Secret Lair