Hide&Seek: Geographies of Play, Gaming and Exploring the City

Sarah Mills

This weekend (9th-11th July) an annual games festival will be taking place in the urban landscapes of London, based at the National Theatre.  The ‘Hide&Seek Weekender’ invites participants to re-think what constitutes as gaming, play, the city and ‘reality’ through location-based gaming.  This involves real-life tasks combined with geo-location technologies.  Activities include ‘visible cities’, a hide and seek game around the South Bank, and ‘silent relay’ – involving a choreographed mp3 soundtrack linked up to players in Berlin.  This event brings together local knowledge and geographical investigations with fun, play and imagination, with the organisers describing themselves as “a studio of game designers and event organisers who want people to play more games in new ways”.

In the latest issue of Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, James Ash examines the links between materiality, technology and spatiality through the concept of ‘teleplastic technologies’, specifically through the example of video-gaming.  In an analysis of the video-game ‘Lego Star Wars’, Ash highlights the role of involuntary memory, consciousness and ‘ethological markers’ in the game’s puzzle-solving tasks.  Ash also explores users’ notions of sensory stimulus, action, and pseudo-digital bodily movements in the video-game ‘Burnout 3’.  Although focusing on video-gaming technologies, Ash discusses the broader sensory and corporeal dimensions of play and gaming and what these mean for the “potential and possibilities for spatial sense”.  These connections and technological engagements are clearly demonstrated in the aims of the ‘Hide&Seek’ festival taking place this weekend.

Read James Ash (2010) ‘Teleplastic technologies: charting practices of orientation and navigation in video-gaming’ Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 35 (3): 414-430

Visit The Hide&Seek Festival: http://www.hideandseek.net/

Read ‘Come and Play Hide&Seek in London’ in The Guardian

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