Framing a Critique of Reality Based Games


Session Title:

  • Reality (virtual, augmented, gamified)

Presentation Title:

  • Framing a Critique of Reality Based Games




  • Abstract (short paper)

    Abstract In the last two decades, a series of games that interweave fiction with reality and often involve real world outcomes have appeared. Encompassing serious games, ubiquitous games, location based-games and gamification, these reality-based experiences seem entirely new. But what I here collectively call reality-based games have a past. Threading though the Surrealists strategies of automatism; the cybernetic utopian visions of Marshall Mcluhan, Buckminster Fuller and Stewart Brand; the social change objectives of the serious games movement; and the engagement strategies of gamification; there is a persistent motivation connecting the history of reality-based games. Specifically, the desire to put play to work. But too often the bodies that develop and promote these experiences work in isolation from each other. As a result, their knowledge and findings lack the self-reflection and critique deserving of the powerful experiences they create. This should not be, as the stakes are high given these game types are often global in scale. This paper connects the ambitions of realitybased games in artistic, progressive and corporate contexts and calls for a productive framework of critique for these game types, one that can be universally applied.

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