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.
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.