Playing the City

19Nov09

I went to a very interesting talk last night by Kevin Slavin, the co-founder of New York games company area/code. The theme was ‘Playing the City’ and he was talking about how games can create and enhance social systems. In particular he was celebrating how games are returning to their social function after a few years in the wilderness as a solitary activity.

“Games connect us,” he said, citing the shift from screen-focussed video games to more interactive efforts like Wii, Band Hero and Four Square. The natural evolution seems to point to more games in the future where we use the city as a playing arena. Slavin’s made a stack of games that get folk out and about, and now the Knight Foundation (which traditionally bankrolls projects to support local journalism) has commissioned him to create games encouraging community engagement.

I’m so keen on this it’s untrue. I’ve been thinking of setting up some sort of scavenger hunt for ages now, and what with technology becoming more mobile, I reckon we could create quite a fun interactive effort for London neighbourhoods. If you have any suggestions of good games to engage people (either existing games or something brand new) give us a shout and we’ll get our heads together; it could be fun.

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