Author: marklewisjackson

About marklewisjackson

Digital Placemaker, Landscape Architect, and lecturer

The Bees and the Brontosauruses

Or is it Brontosauri? Let’s start with the Bees…

Manchester is a hive of activity at the moment with ‘Bee in the City’ in full flight (I could work for a tabloid). Families, couples and curious parties trek from one side of the city to the other looking for the next winged work of art and all important number to register on the associated app. The app map becomes very handy when in pursuit of the 105 bees, although you have to zoom in super close to actually make out the streets and street names amongst the bee symbols.

Bee in the city

The app isn’t without its issues, which shouldn’t take the shine off the overall experience. I used a Samsung S8, which proved useless when I attempting to access the solitary AR component, a hovering bee at one of the bee sculptures outside the central library. Another bystander squealed with glee as the bee successfully bumbled around on their iphone. I watched with subdued interest, hoping to see something a bit more engaging, a simple game perhaps. The thing is, Bee in the City is a missed opportunity when it comes to interactive content. I didn’t consider the treasure hunt aspect to be especially engaging – it took me to parts of the city I had never been and I enjoyed seeing the new sights. The app would crash with great regularity and when in close proximity to the new bees I would find the associated code had already been entered. On these occasions there was little else to do in the app, apart from see where the next bee was. Cunningly the app integrates a number of deals associated with the local business or sponsor of each sculpture. This is a commendable aspect of the app as an economic driver for the charitable project and highlights the extensive coordination the project will have required.

City Verve backed a more engaging app recently called City of Firsts, run via the Buzzin’ app (reminded me a bit of Foursquare) and created by Sparta Digital. Buzzin’ also featured map system with destinations clearly marked throughout Manchester. I opted to approach the University district and found destinations were also marked by sculptures – nicely designed, with subtle 3D ‘M’ plinths, presumably standing for Manchester. Convenient height for a coffee. These sculptures featured interactive content, accessed through AR and audio.

Buzzin

QR codes across the top of the plinths accessed augmented objects to explore, associated with short historic narratives, which were also delivered via recordings of people in AR. These speakers highlighted characters of local and global historic significance. I was genuinely surprised and engaged by the pivotal role many of these people played. I had no idea for example that the first stored computer program was created locally, by Sir Frederic Williams and Tom Kilburn. I came across parts of the campus of MMU and University of Manchester that I had never seen before. The landscape architecture around the Bright Building was a pleasant surprise.

Manchester sites

The Buzzin’ City of Firsts experience would have benefited from a series of connected stories, opening opportunities for mystery of puzzle solving. I understand the benefit of having sculptures as way finders linking to the apps, Buzzin’ or Bee in the City included, but there is opportunity to capitalise on existing infrastructure as part of this experience. It would be great to see a bit more creative licence taken too. It’s safe to stick to the solid historic facts and figures but if these apps are to sustain interest and offer replay value there needs to be more engaging content.

Take Jurassic World Alive for example. I understand this is more of a game but bear with me. I have been playing for a few months now and it has kept me coming back for a few reasons. It leverages off the Jurassic World licence, providing broad appeal through dinosaurs – I’m as interested as my 7-year-old nephew. The challenges within the game revolve around the discovery, capture and collection of dinosaurs, which requires an increasing level of skill to achieve. This gives the experience a difficulty curve. It has recently been updated to include battle modes to pitch dinosaurs against one another, providing a competitive element.

JWAlive

Yes, the game can be played anywhere and doesn’t tell you anything about the locations you are in. Yes, it is less serious in nature, whereas the other two apps mentioned are more serious in their intent for local benefit. What I’m alluding to is that there could be more playable aspects to location exclusive apps like Buzzin’ and Bee in the City. How long will it be before we start to see locations more heavily backed and marketed for engaging, playable digital content?

Don’t stress on the Poké-mess: Where next for location based game developers

Now that Pokémon Go has had its moment in the sun, developers and some other unexpected parties speculate as to where the next location-based hit will come from. It is a game worth reflecting on because on many fronts, it seemed to miss the point.

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The creation of game environments is informed by a similar range of psychological principles to their physical counterparts. Our interpretation of physical environments has a direct influence on our expectations of a digital environment as a player.

The similarities in physical and virtual experiences of the landscape are closer associated than ever before with photo realistic interpretations of the environment and highly immersive hardware to support that experience. A developer can capitalize on this deeply embedded relationship between humans and the environment, whilst emphasising the achievement of goals to progress a players’ experience conducive to the game. Critically, the developer’s perception of an environment can differ from that of a player’s and so a clear understanding of the context is key if it is to be a believable, engaging and meaningful experience.

Where game developers have much to offer is in the programing of space. They understand what will compel a player to explore an environment. They understand the mechanics that will engage players to create that sense of fun. In the context of the physical environment, that sense of fun is often lost amongst the prerogatives of the established disciplines who shape and govern our built environment, amidst the litigious society that we live in.

Games and apps present an opportunity to enhance the way we experience locations. The dynamic of programmed spaces, however, changes with the advent of location-based games and their content. Players may already have preconceptions of the physical locations that they play in. Others such as tourists will have none. It creates an opportunity to make locations more relevant as part of games where locals create the content and visitors consume it.

The explosion in use of Pokémon Go and volumes of people flooding into public open to play the game space demonstrated the raw potential of the tool. This was, however, perceived by many city officials as both an unmanaged mess and missed opportunity, taking them by surprise (and a few unsuspecting locals). A golden opportunity to make the game and future games an integrated part of the fabric of cities was not capitalized on. Not by the game developer nor by the city officials.

During this period prominent public locations became ‘pokéstops’ (a location to train Pokémon), but the game itself said nothing of the inherent significance of these locations – nothing of the history, the narratives, the events, the cultural values, or the people. The focus was purely on capturing Pokémon. Imagine if there was a greater integration of local knowledge as part of the game and what that could help achieve? Giving games exclusivity to space and integrating that locality as part of the city’s brand is an industry in waiting.

‘​It was a fantastically ambitious game where the city was coherent and filled with autonomous inhabitants. Traffic obeyed laws and drove with purpose, queuing at red lights and pulling out of the way as an ambulance drove by blaring its siren. Pedestrians wandered the pavements, jumping from the path of oncoming vehicles and fleeing scenes of violence. It felt like a real environment – the city had a soul’. Grand Thieves and Tomb Raiders: How British Videogames Conquered the World

Beyond Reality

UniSA’s Prof. Mark Billinghurst and Prof. Bruce Thomas provided an insight into the future of VR and AR at their lecture ‘Beyond Reality 2027’.

The landscape of the subject is undergoing rapid change, supplemented by a market flooded with first generation VR devices. Whilst these show a huge measure of progression from early non-commercial devices, the diversity of sensory VR & AR applications in future devices is already becoming apparent, no longer only driven by sight and sound, but also smell, touch and taste.

The advent of ‘empathic’ computing will allow a deeper understanding of the experience of individuals, observing how they engage with space and tailoring it to suit their specific needs. It could be effective as a means of engagement and as an evaluative design tool.

The core message was that VR is less driven by achieving a ‘score’ and more about creating experiences, which is perhaps why the games industry hasn’t come to terms with it yet. Games need to become more intelligent in how they respond to individual users using this empathic approach to design. It becomes less about creating a generic experience, ‘one size fits all’, ‘games for the masses’ approach.

Landscape Architecture has much to offer designers of digital spaces. The design of most landscapes will include a brief on who the users are and this creates parameters. In an aged care facility for dementia patients for example, the design of the landscape requires understanding of the disease. The sensory experience of the residents is impaired and details of the design sometimes have to be made more obvious. There is also a need for a range of spaces demonstrating sensory stimulation and sensory calm.

Reminiscent design also plays a role. For example if an individual has had a passion for cars in the past or was a mechanic, the presence of a car and a tool bench will create the opportunity to gain a meaningful sense of reminiscence and fulfilment as they tinker away.

A range of new experiences also helps create the new neurological connections that can improve cognitive function, making up for the existing connections that have been irreparably damaged. This is where games can be tailored for a generation who may have had little or no exposure to games.

Checklist: factors impacting games in the public realm

Consideration by designers and notification to players should be given regarding the following:

Safety

  • Notification to gamers that ultimately they are responsible for their own safety and should remain vigilant during games
  • Vehicle movement. Games better suited to non-vehicular or pedestrian-orientated environments. Also be wary of cycle lanes, bus stops and car parks. Consider warnings or geo-fences when in close proximity roads, rails lines. Minimise crossings where possible.
  • Proximity to water bodies, including the sea, lakes, rivers. Consider warnings or geo-fences
  • Surfaces. Be wary of uneven, loose surfaces and steep gradients.
  • Impact of the weather. Extreme climates may be less appropriate.
  • Daylight and artificial light.
  • Accessibility. Is the area well serviced with access points? Is there clear visibility for passive surveillance? Does the game also operate at night? Refer to CPTED principles (Crime Prevention through Environmental Design)
  • All-inclusive access provision e.g. ramps, lifts, gentle gradients
  • Land ownership. Be respectful of private, semi-private locations
  • Cultural sensitivity. Is the location highlighted as being of cultural significance and could the game be deemed inappropriate or offensive?
  • Emergency and maintenance access

Amenities

  • Wi-Fi and mains connectivity preferable. Strength of signal e.g. multi-stories, underground locations may impact game flow
  • Access to toilets, baby change facilities
  • Shelter from extreme weather, including buildings, structures and trees
  • Access to food and water
  • Parking, including disability
  • Access and frequency of public transport

Character. Opportunity to leverage off/integrate the following in the games:

  • Commendable public locations such as streets, squares, parks and water bodies
  • Prominent landmarks including architecture, public art, monuments
  • Integration of local knowledge for cultural relevance
  • Connectivity of prominent public spaces with walkable distances between (around 400m) and overall potential distance traversed (provide estimate)

Other considerations

  • Permanency of referenced physical features. The planned removal of features may be detrimental if integral with the game
  • Coordination with other programmed outdoor activities and events, including place making initiatives
  • Land use & user conflict
  • Suitability of game actions in public locations
  • Commercial endorsements
  • Public notification of games in progress

Open State: Future Cities

In October the Open State: Future Cities presentation ‘Play and Landscape in the Age of the Artificial’ sought to challenge our conventional understanding of the terms ‘play’ and ‘landscape’, as interpreted through trends in videogames and emerging technology.

(Click the names to view the presentation)

David Homburg, Hassel, introduced the overarching Open State: Future Cities event with an analogy of city anatomy. Our understanding of cities is limited and diagnostic tools can help lead to an evidence base that supports conversation over how cities should develop and be reflected through the revised 30-year Plan for Adelaide.

Stephen Yarwood, City 2050, revelled at the prospect of being a ’City Hacker’, using his experience of ‘Pokémon Go’ to develop a greater understanding of place and assign more value to the physical world around us. ‘You know you’re onto something when your 7-year-old son walks up to you on a Saturday morning and says I need to go for a 5 kilometre walk today!’, referencing the achievement-reward mechanism in the game. Stephen recognised Augmented Reality (AR) as one of the key drivers behind spatial change in cities, that games such as Pokémon Go are offering placemaking opportunities.

Mark Jackson AILA, Public Realm Gaming, took a philosophical approach with his knowledge of videogames, placemaking and playspace design. ‘Should people be playing videogames less or does outdoor play need to be as engaging as digital play? I would argue they can coexist’ Mark noted that the demographics of videogames casts a wider net than playspaces and could have significant health benefits. There is greater flexibility to implement videogames compared to the expense of physical changes to the landscape, and they can be driven by compelling narratives, as with apps such as Story City – benefiting from a local knowledge of place. Mark added that whilst there is a common design language between landscape architecture and videogame design in a virtual sense, it needs to be developed further to help bridge the professions when it crosses into the public realm as geo-spatial programming.

Derek Munneke and Dan Cormick, Nextfaze, provided an overview of how location based (LB) games have come to be, their journey through the technology and where it is heading.

Referencing Minecraft, Derek noted that we seek to reconstruct the real world in virtual spaces because of our connection with place. Knowing precisely where people are located is a double-edged sword. LB technology has been leapt on by advertising. Dan added that the increase in fidelity of technology has created more opportunities for games. Festivals such as Fringe have helped exhibit the potential of LB games on a temporary basis. The core of Derek’s message was that outdoor games are most successful when a community of users who can interact with one another, as with the game Ingress, and that this helps to sustain a sense of place.

One of the challenges is what is the likelihood of uptake of new hardware beyond the mobile phone. There was a lot of stigma attached to the Google Glass, people didn’t like being watched or photographed. There is new hardware arriving with the HoloLens and Magic Leap, which delve into mixed reality. Again, it is a double-edged sword. To be discreet or indiscreet with new technology – remember what happened when people complained the electric car was too quiet.

Mark Jackson provided some questions relating to how games can be integrated to the public realm, which other members of the games industry answered (refer to the end of the Nextfaze prezi). The reoccurring message during Q&A was a lack of a platform to have these sorts of conversations between disciplines. Landscape Architects can not only help guide this but take active involvement with the design and integration of new videogame technology, aided by a vision of what to do with it, where it should be utilised, and how it can diversify and enhance our experience of the public realm.

 

 

​’The transition from sprite to polygon gaming during the mid-ninties felt like a seismic event but was actually just the predictable tipping of a scales that had for so long weighed in favour of 2D and 3D visuals. As the eighties had advanced so had polygon technology, and soon 3D visuals offered a unique selling point – realsim’. The making of Hard Drivin’, retro gamer (issue 133)

Play and Landscape in the Age of the Artificial

Videogames form an exciting part of the modern day cultural landscape.

Whether created for leisure, or more serious in their intent, videogames are being utilised in more branches of society than anyone could have predicted.

They are helping to shape our broader understanding of the dynamic between people and place.

For those curating the public realm, there is a necessity to broaden our horizons, understanding that places are not just designed, constructed and managed, but that they are also programmed.

The parallels between virtual, hybrid and physical environments has become too close to ignore, raising the question, can we and should we make video games a more integral part of the public realm experience?

Landscape Architects play a pivotal role in the curation of outdoor spaces. We inherently understand how those spaces will function, as a balance of man-made and natural processes, to achieve sustainable design resolutions.

We also have an expanding role in how those spaces are planned and programmed through urban design and place making. Our understanding of how people use space must diversify to acknowledge and incorporate this new digital layer of information that we interact with.

The games industry has become a powerful medium of entertainment that has connected people globally and socially. It is an industry that has transcended age brackets and cultural boundaries, that has allowed people to reinvent themselves, and spend as much time gaming as a part time job – out of choice.

Whilst videogames are undeniably a sustained form of entertainment, they have drawn criticism on issues such as censorship, addiction and obesity. The default view on videogames by many seems to be that the time spent on games takes away from the time that could be spent outdoors.

‘Videogames…are often accused of ripping people out of the natural world and placing them into an artificial one.’ – ‘How to do things with videogames’, Ian Bogost (2011)

Landscape architecture may seem unorthodox in advocating for the games industry, but it through the evolving portrayal and use of the landscape, and play value it offers, which draws parallels.

It raises the question – should people be playing videogames less or does outdoor play need to be as accessible and engaging as digital play?

At a lecture in Adelaide in 2014 author and Journalist Richard Louv spoke about the emergence of the global ‘nature play’ movement, sighting a ‘growing unease with technology’.

This movement emerged because our concept of the landscape has changed over the past few generations. Children venture outside less and reside closer to home when they do, restricting their ability to build up an accurate picture of what the landscape is and what it has to offer.

This is due to a wide range of issues, not confined to parental fear over safety and security, and accessibility of quality open space. Culturally, play is being impacted by a risk averse, blame driven society.

Meanwhile, our use of technology and screen addiction is now being portrayed as a threat to society, including our exposure to the natural environment and therefore nature play. Can these modes of play can coexist? There are common goals where getting people outdoors and active is concerned, including entertainment and exploration.

The experience of landscapes in video games might serve a greater purpose than simply a setting for a game.

‘The experience of playing (Golvellius 1987) was a journey of discovery; discovering new lands and discovering ways of crossing previously encountered natural environments. It wasn’t just a game but an experience, and in many ways no different to one that children play out continuous time in parks and back gardens, exploring the environment in the hopes of finding something new and exciting albeit in the confines of a virtual space.’ – ‘Virtual Landscapes’, Umran Ali (2012)

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Digital gaming itself has undergone a rapid evolution over the past 40+ years that has seen the widespread domestication of digital gaming devices.

A Guardian article highlighted:

‘for a time video-gaming offered a level of physical and social interaction, at the arcade or through multi-player sofa games that friends and family members could play at the same time, in the same room. Then multi-player videogames moved online, and fellow players became physically removed from one another, if not completely anonymous’ – The rise and rise of tabletop gaming, The Guardian 2016

To the surprise of many, it hasn’t been any domesticated game systems that has proven to be the most flexible in introducing games to the masses – it has been the humble mobile phone.

Although location based mobile games have been around for some time now, it is the emergence of Pokémon Go that has caught the imagination of the public. The number of people playing has forced everyone to take notice, but what seems to have been reported prolifically is where the game has gone wrong, rather than the many ways it has gone right.

What it has done is force new questions on how it can be successfully integrated, which I believe can help advance our understanding of how games can enhance the experience of the public realm and educate people over the benefits.

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The Digital Australia report provides valuable statistics in relation to the videogame industry. The diversity of people playing games and the frequency they play them highlights the cultural significance of the industry.

When we talk about play in the public realm by default we might think of playgrounds and a specific demographic. In the context of video games all age groups play games and they account for 68% of the population (around 16.5 million people). The average age of players is 33. People who grew up playing games continue to play them. This forces us to think more broadly around the notion of play.

So why are we playing games? Amongst the most prominent reasons cited in the Digital Australia report, were to have fun, keep our minds active and relieve boredom.

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It was, however, the less cited reasons that caught my attention.

We are less likely to play games to learn, to exercise, or to socially interact. These are all commendable attributes of playing games, but I think that gamers are not oblivious when they are pushed onto them too heavily. It’s a balancing act, but one that cannot be ignored with the couch-potato traits often associated with games.

The Heart Foundation noted:

‘There are both long-term and short-term impacts of prolonged sitting. These include an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and premature mortality, an increased number of musculoskeletal conditions and eye strain’.

Encouragingly they also noted:

‘If games like Pokémon Go get people active, and improve their heart health as a result, we say go for it. We all need to minimise prolonged sitting by breaking it up with periods of activity’.

As adults we have a recommended weekly level of moderate to intense physical exercise:

150 to 300 minutes of moderately intense physical activity

or

75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines

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If we take those figures and compare them to the average time spent playing videogames – a reported 88 minutes a day, there is a clear opportunity where outdoor gaming can have a healthy impact.

It is surely only a matter of time before studies occur to determine the extent of health benefits associated with Pokémon Go and it won’t be the first time a study of this nature has occurred.

Active behavior encouraged by the Nintendo Wii created much interest on the domestic front with games like Wii Sports. Whilst a study confirmed that Wii Sports didn’t burn as many calories as actual physical activity, this is really where mobile games have stolen a march on their domesticated forbearers.

For example the mobile game ‘Zombie run’ encouraged players to sprint at intervals in the outdoors to escape hordes of zombies. It was unique in that it didn’t rely on screen to time for players to participate. Many of those games lost momentum because rewarding players with monotonous in-game achievements (e.g. distance markers) became meaningless once those milestones were achieved. Games have to do more, they have to be meaningful in other ways.

So where else have videogames and landscape converged?

A significant part of play is the narrative we assign to it and I think this is an essential ingredient in videogames, physical play and the broader landscape.

‘Play is the fiction of doing’ – Oscar Barda, ‘How I found a definition for games after searching for 16 years’, Gamasutra blog 2016

Story City, a choose-your-own adventure story app, connects people with place via fictional stories. The app empowers the reader to make choices on where they would like to explore, linked by decisions made in a fictional narrative and guided by GPS.

 

Further to current location based games, the strength of Story City lies in its ability to capitalize on the work of local writers, musicians and artists.

Each story is unique and actively links in with the context of real locations.

For the Port Adelaide edition of Story City, we have been working with a local primary school, testing stories, generating art and creating music to include on the app, providing an authentic experience that will resonate with locals and inspire visitors to explore the area.

Whilst many location based games are made for a mass market, Story City demonstrates the flexibility to adapt game content and empower the local population.

There are other games emerging offering a closer relationship with the landscape by making their input an integral part of the game.

The Questagame app encourages players to scan flora and fauna outdoors, which they are rewarded for in the game. This reward varies at a rate depending on the rarity of the species. This mechanic is an excellent example of how games can build up a database of useful information and has already been endorsed by multiple agencies, academic institutions and botanical groups.

Interestingly, a similar scanning process was also an integral part of the recent game No Man’s Sky, which embedded the flora and fauna on procedurally generated planets for gamers to explore, who were also rewarded as part of these discoveries.

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No Mans Sky (2016)

Unfortunately, our public realm doesn’t often embrace the opportunity for play and games.

Playspaces are the broadly accepted location for ‘play’ to occur.

There is a saying, ‘Nature doesn’t stop at the boundaries we draw for it’, and perhaps, neither does play.

Some of the biggest strides in games in the public realm has come via play equipment design. Equipment has been adapted to incorporate button operated, light and sound based games. The games require a combination of movement, balance and speed and was pioneering in many respects. This fusion of digital and physical components has been described as ‘Playware’ (‘Playtesting the digital playground’, Gunver Majgaard, Carsten Jessen, 2009), and might just be to playspaces what Pong was to the domesticated games industry.

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Kompan’s ‘Icon’ range

These integrated ‘Playware’ games don’t rely on a screen, allowing the conventional physical benefits of playspaces to flow naturally whilst engaging children in a hybrid play experience.

There have been other playspaces that have incorporated brands as part of their theme, in addition to mobile apps themselves. Rovio Entertainment and Lappset (who are represented by Active Recreation Solutions in Australia) combined to develop a series of Angry Birds playspaces.

The association with popular culture helped to raise the profile of the playspaces in a similar way to the use of the Pokémon brand by Niantic.

There are some peculiar measures emerging elsewhere in the public realm to address mobile gamers. The introduction of ‘smart paving’ and similar measures to guide the neglectful mobile user, removes individual accountability and takes away the liberty of self-assessment and freedom of movement. This harks back to the brutalist urban design approach of the 60s, creating walking deterrents to ‘guide people’.

pavers

That said, there is a common language on how we understand people function in spaces, whether considering open world virtual environments or real world environments, and increasingly where location based games, and integration of augmented reality is being developed.

Landscape Architects from Fletcher Studio in San Francisco worked on a videogame called the Witness. It was an Island based, first person, puzzle game. Like numerous open world game environments, the non-linear gameplay and pace of the game allowed greater opportunity to observe and explore the Island. The landscape was iconic, mimicking different environments and taking influence from different periods of civilization.

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The Witness (2016)

Lead Landscape Architect Deanna Van Buren highlighted that

‘Given the increasing number of people who “see” the built environment digitally, designing environments for the electronic gaming industry can have an impact on the public’s appreciation of good design and on their demand for better quality in their physical world’.

Lead game developer Jonathan Blow said that the guidance and advice of the architects helped to craft the island in a way that felt more immersive for the player because all the details were in place.

The Witness sets a precedent for potential collaboration between landscape architects and game designers.

But why do people play games of this nature?

Speaking of his earlier years spent in built up UK suburbia, Dr Umran Ali, expressed some other sentiments. He noted:

‘Video landscapes offered me the possibility to play, albeit in a virtual space, and experience the natural spaces I craved for’ – ‘Virtual Landscapes’, Umran Ali (2012)

He was right, we do have an innate desire to experience and be in the landscape, but to what extent does this satisfy our needs if delivered artificially?

It is a confronting concept to think that the virtual landscapes might provide a significant part of our exposure and opportunities to explore the landscape. It could be argued that some of the most recognizable landscapes don’t physically exist – they are virtually embedded.

The visuals and audio of games have become so realistic, with compelling narratives and vast game worlds, it is little wonder that Australians are spending so much time playing.

Ali also noted:

‘For many players experiencing changes in the landscape rather than pursuing the goals of the game… (is) more appealing than the narrative or the primary quest of the game’ – ‘Virtual Landscapes’, Umran Ali (2012)

Not all games possess these qualities or intend to. For every Firewatch there is a Flappy Bird, but there are different types of games for different types of gamers.

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Firewatch (2016)

flappy-bird

Flappy Bird (2013)

There is a term to describe these artificial landscapes (The Witness’s and Firewatch’s of the world), these surrogate landscapes that we roam in the confines of our screens. The idea of a ‘surroscape’, in shaping our interpretation of the physical landscape may seem perverse at first, but consider this:

Not everyone has means of accessing rich, stimulating environments, whether it be down to location, weather, physical and psychological limitations, financial restraints or simply a lack of knowledge that these environments exist.

Urban densification, over-population, and climate change are huge global challenges that are impacting on our experience of the landscape. We could yet rely on virtual landscapes in ways beyond play and games that supplement our livelihood.

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Aliens (1986)

It becomes a question of – what is the human need for exposure to the landscape?

In Summary

  • Videogames add value the experience of the landscape
  • They encourage more active behavior without being the primary focus
  • They offer a sustainable, adaptable opportunity for place activation
  • And they allow a unique sense of place to develops

This article was adapted from the presentation ‘Play and Landscape in the Age of the Artificial’ at the Open State: Future Cities event in Adelaide 26/10/16 and can be viewed online https://youtu.be/45AII4lvIT0?t=8m20s