- Play and Performance in Civic Space
- Reframing Learning and Mobile
- Play and real-world social change
The Games of Nonchalance is an interactive narrative woven into the fabric of the Bay Area. Using everything from physical installations in public and private spaces to websites, social media, and even low-power FM broadcast towers, The Games of Nonchalance creates an immersive location-specific experience for those who are able to discover its cleverly-hidden trailheads.
"The Games of Nonchalance" testifies to the notion of transmedia as a flexible praxis that can function across a wide range of techno-social contexts. Put differently, transmedia’s true referent is not a constellation of convergent technologies, but rather a mindset put into practice. The platform for Nonchalance is the world in general, and the city of San Francisco in particular. Within these broad constraints, anything capable of carrying story and/or facilitating participation and performance is fair game. Narrative figures emerge through the aggregate effect of the creators’ exploitation of the affordances of many different media forms, old and new. Immersion in this sense is a tangible reality — that is, since elements of the story-world could appear in just about any context at any time, the player’s experience is one of being surrounded. This contrasts sharply with more literal-minded "immersive technologies" that operate in tightly constrained (usually screen-based) contexts and appeal to a narrow slice of their players’ sensoria.
From the developers' case study:
We approached the project on two fronts. The first was an exercise in cultural curation. We committed to an in-depth research project into the Bay Area's history and recent past, with an emphasis on the self-help movements and pseudo-sciences popular in the 1970's, and the punk and hip-hop youth cultures of the 1980's. By incorporating select imagery, icons and little-known oddities from this research, we crafted a narrative driven by strong leading characters and a rich backstory that wove itself into the fabric of the city.
As this research took shape, we worked on the second front: incorporating our developing narrative into the streets, parks, and under-explored public and private spaces of the city. For each of the four episodes that made up the core of the interactive adventure, we identified a different neighborhood based both on its individual character and its potential as a setting in which our narrative could unfold. These urban spaces in turn both inspired our creation and implementation of a variety of narrative devices based on the opportunities we discovered in the physical terrain, the existing businesses, and the nooks and crannies of the streetscape.
We carefully designed the structure of each episode to vary slightly from the others. The way in which participants navigate from one place to another and from one branch of the narrative to another diversifies as they complete the activities in each neighborhood. These build on each other, with each episode teaching the participants how to play. The first episode has only one linear path available, the second allows players to travel a more lateral route, making choices and gathering information from multiple sources as they find their way. Each interaction was carefully designed and play-tested to ensure participants would find themselves challenged to the extent that the experience is ultimately rewarding. Because the goal was a re-playable experience accessible on an individual and a small group level, it was necessary to design each interaction to appeal to multiple senses and methods of learning.
Game OverviewAn epic, immersive, poly-media, real-world based adventure.
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