PETLAB: REACTIVISM

The second game I worked on with PETLab was Re:Activism which was a big-urban-game designed and launched for the Come Out and Play festival in New York City. The game was recently accepted for presentation at the Cumulus conference in Lyon, France and the Meaningful Play conference at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. The game revisited locations of historic protests and taught game participants about the events and related social causes. In order to progress through the game, the participants raised awareness of protest events by creating present day interventions and public interactions. Teams of game-players raced from location to location to complete challenges and use activist tactics to increase their score. The teams also used mobile phones to send and receive text messages as they progressed through the game and completed challenges.

The game was built around a participatory model that provided a structure through which spontaneous or directed interactions could occur in the public realm. This meant that the game-learning experience could be designed to a certain point, but then had to be play-tested in order to continue the iterative design process.

The use of text messaging and mobile technology provided a metaphorical link to activist tactics used in the past. Text messaging was used by protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention protests to coordinate actions and avoid arrests. As teams moved from location to location throughout the city text messages were sent to relay scores and record challenges.

 

Researching historic sites throughout New York City. This is a plaque that marks the site of the Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 1911 near Washington Square Park. A picture of the food riots that occurred in New York City at City Hall near the turn of the century.

 

We researched the historical sites of protest and started mapping them on a Google map in order to obtain a number sites with a diversity of locations throughout Manhattan, a diversity of protest issues, and a diversity of dates - the protest events used for the game spanned a time period going back more than 150 years.

 

The map that game players used to navigate the city and move to various sites. Players were given a packet that included the map, the rules, and envelopes containg challenges.

 

As players proceeded to each site they completed a challenge and text-messaged in the answer in order to receive the envelope number to open for challenges. Some of the challenges encourages game players to stage protest actions like die-ins at the sites of historic protests.

 

Writing a memorial to the victims of the Shirtwaist Factory Fire and worker abuse. Additional game results and documentation.

 

The Re:Activism website I designed that was to serve as a "base" from which the game can be launched in other cities.