– Control Me 2016: Gaming in the Real World

Control Me – Gaming in the Real World

Moving into the next and final module of my MFA I have considered many different projects. In the end the idea that I kept coming back to was engaging with online ‘Gamers’ and inviting them to play in the real world.

MFA Research

My research over the last year has been about exploring through Social Art Practice and using creative play to investigate peoples’ relationship with the outside (real/physical) world and the inside (virtual/technological) world. I have been concerned about Western societies apparent withdrawal from the real world to become increasingly preoccupied with ever-evolving and ever-trending immersive social platforms. This concern has been particularly pressing as we move closer to a world where virtual and augmented reality will become commonplace and the lines between the virtual and the real become even more blurred.

Through creative collaborative and participatory events involving a variety of age ranges, both online (Gaming, Twitter, Facebook etc.) and within the real world (Forest walks, Popup events), I have endeavoured to create an ‘interstice’, a space, which encourages dialogue surrounding these concerns. This research has also persuaded me to reconsider my own relationship to both the real and virtual world, which has given me personal insights that have widened the creative course.

Exhibition Piece – “Allegory of Wild’s Cave” or “Control Me”

This piece is a reflection on the contrast, or lack thereof, between the virtual and the real. I have extended a hand into the virtual world with all its enhanced imitations, and invited its commuters who travel through the shopping malls, hangouts and entertainment complexes of the information superhighway to break from the boundary of their coded environments. The invitation is an opportunity for online ‘Gamers’ to control me like one of their online characters in the real physical world, by addressing the question: “Your character dies in an epic battle, you’ve re-spawned into the real world…what happens next?’ I in turn will attempt to re-enact the scenarios conjured up by the question, and record these performances to be presented in the final exhibition.

Just as I, they too are bound to the physical world by their bodies, even if their minds are elsewhere traveling timelessly through the technological rhizome. They understand that just as ‘Gamers’ are confined by the rules of their online worlds, they too will know that when they control me in the real world I will be confined by its limitations.

My desire is that the collaborators and the viewers of the performances are given a space, an ‘interstice’ to examine their own relationship to both realms.

             “Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.”                   

                                                                    – Oscar Wilde

I posted a call out to ‘Gamers’ on Game Forums, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I also spoke to online gamers while in game play.  I had to wait quite a while for replies. Eventually I received a number of scenarios. Of the scenarios returned I choose 7 that I thought I could actually reenact.

Scenarios

1 – ZERO FORWARD MOMENTUM – DayZ

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When I came to I was already running. I can’t stop running. I am a running man, or woman if you like, but you didn’t make that selection on the options screen at the start did you? Like a left shift key and w key forever depressed on the shittiest of keyboards my task in this world is to move forward, or run forward as is currently the case. My environment is different though. Gone are the Sci Fi neon lights and heavily processed Ultra textures. Gone are my beautifully rendered enemies who wish to block my way, replaced it seems by these gormless ‘human’ idiots with poorly programmed Ai.

As I round a street corner and bowl over two old ladies sending bags of groceries sailing into the air I chuckle in sync with my 13 year old master pushing my buttons… But now something is wrong. My breathing is becoming laboured… I’m slowing down! What?! How is this possible? I thought I could run forever!!! A terrible dread washes over me as my limbs ache and my heart pumps to the point of failure.. I have slowed to a walk, a stagger forward…  I fall. I never fall. I try to crawl but the game is up, the game is over.

By Tony Harvey 

2 – Ratchet -From Ratchet and Clank

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It’s not much but I hope this helps. The character I would choose is ratchet from from ratchet and clank in order survive ratchet would have to adapt to his new world and its customs.I feel as if ratchet would react shocked and obviously suprised with his entry in to this new world and struggle to learn its rules and customs,such as not breaking the law and having to eat,drink and take shelter to survive.I feel ratchets toughest challenge of all though would be him coming face to face with other real life people and trying to adapt to a world were violence and shooting everything around us  is just a fantasy or exactly the opposite

By Josh Hutchinson

3 – Larharl from the Disgaea Series

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Larharl from Disgaea, born as the netherworlds prince, he was poisoned which lead to a 2 year slumber, upon awaking he discovered that his father the king died and the underworld was in disarray. this begins his quest to become overlord, Laharl is a cold hearted character with an inner kindness in which he represses due to heartache from the past. due to being a demon prince he has very little of conscience and within the video game world he has oppressed and enslaved many, not to mention that he would murder and attack any who gets in his way, I believe that if he were to find himself within the real world he would become a delinquent, being of teenage years, and would like to express his power and attempt to climb the ladder of power within the criminal world. I do not believe that being in the human world would affect his ideas and beliefs as he was always an undermined character and always strove to fight powers greater than himself, although he would never see them that way.

By Steven Miguel

4 – Jinx from League of Legends

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Jinx wakes up and realises that she doesn’t have any of her weapons, she then reacts to this by saying to herself, “Where can I get a gun?” As in the real world guns are illegal Jinx turns to the one thing she can think of to get her hands on such dangerous weapons and joins the army. Jinx then steals different types of weapons: a grenade launcher, a machine gun, multiple types of grenades and a pistol. Jinx, being Jinx, is unable to abide by the real world rules as she was a criminal in the gaming world so she doesn’t change in the real world. Jinx has always caused destruction, she claims it to be fun but other people call it anarchy. She decides to live the way she used to. She plans on blowing cities to ashes and killing those who get in the way. Jinx does this because she is mentally unstable and she just enjoys crime. She used to spend her life making Caitlyn and Vi, two sheriffs from Piltover, chase her everywhere she went and so she plans on doing the same in the real world with real world law enforcers. She survives from her crimes by stealing food and destroying cities in the process.

By Jessica Rodrigues

5 – Berserker in Black Desert

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I always have/will choose a big, hulking melee class. Berserker in BDO, currently. that guy would have issues in social situations, obviously. Would probably bump his head and break a lot of stuff by accident.

Do the laws of physics apply? Or is my Zerker super strong and gigantic still? I would imagine a small car with someone text in it hitting him and he hills our of something. Of it hits him, docent really do much damage, but feels pain for the first time and collapses, whimpering like Peter Griffin.

By the end of the story, my berserker would probably learn that he can’t be so barbaric and that things hurt more.  Maybe meets a lady, ultimate test of learning to change and adapt, become gentler/sensitive etc etc. Personal growth and what not – Girl he falls for was the girl in the car that hit him. He wanted to hulk out, then felt pain. He collapses and looks totally pathetic. She’s a good person though, feel terrible, performs some first aid that more like magic to him. Queue reason to change. He falls for her and she falls for him. Queue montage of challenges/romance and blah blah, happily every after, kids, settling down etc etc etc. Turns out they are the parents of Popeye the Sailorman (Which is obviously how he had those large forearms). Maybe leave that part out?

By Timothy Alexander Andes

6 – Inayah – Black Desert

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My first thought is that a bag that’s too heavy to carry. Sore muscles, exhaustion from running so much. Asks for healing and is given a glass of water and some ibuprophen.

By Kerry Harrison

7 –  Azir – The Emperor of a place called Sharima – He is a bird man

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Abilities : Spawns Soldiers of Sand

The giant bird man summons deadly soldiers to attack his destructive enemies. The giant beast called Cho swooshed its large talons soaring at the sand creatures, however it was not enough the sand creatures pierced holes into the giants. The giant roars in agony as the bird beast advances but it was a rouse, the bird beast is chomped by the mighty beast and falls lifelessly to the ground and with him hes mighty soldiers decay.

The cooldown begin only this time there was no cooldown he was not where he originally should to be……he was in the real world.

People around him flocked, he puzzled as his form changed – he was no longer sand he was a very unsusual material soft silky he had returned to his human form. People around him flocked, he stood proudly and announced his decree.

That he be the next Emperor.. and those who dare challenge him were to step forward.

One man stepped forward from the crowd that were now all laughing. He said I challenge you for the rights of Emperor. Azir stood firm and grasped the air. Arise my soldiers.. the crowd stood more silent as nothing happened. Suddenly two young skinny males jumped out from the large crowd with plastic forks in hand and Azir stood their silently for a moment. “we are your soldiers oh  Emperor” they said with pride.

“Ehh ok then” Azir responded  puzzled. The two men charged at the challenger in a playful fashion as the challenger pretended to be eliminated. Azir is astonished at how well the battle was going, to him it wasnt a playful game it was a battle for his title. With a laugh he exchanged a hand shake with the foe, as he was defeated in an honourable battle. Then away Azir went. Around him were plenty of people to bask in his glory however he did not know that he was just another person in the real world. He was to them a fictional character.

The Emporor exhanged hands with many of his people and continued to roam when he suddenly realised. Where was his home? In one of his robe pockets he found a key, some coins and a note. The note said B32 Wallabe Street. He could not come to terms with the mysterious note however he did enjoy the real world. This new way of life was one he could get used to.

Azir was proud….his new empire was very advanced that even he did not know what everything was however his trusty soldiers took care of him through his adventure. Time came to be off as it was getting late for his two soldiers. They saluted Azir and said their farewells. Azir stands tall as his two brave soldiers marched into the dark and then he was alone. The streets were empty there was none of his people left.

Left with a note, key and a couple coins in his pouch. This was his first taste of reality, the cold eery mist of dark roads and alleyways. Azir was left puzzled he had not asked his two soldiers about the strange number or where his home was located. Infact Azir was in dire need of assistance he quickly attempts to conjour his soldiers however this time it was not working, the sounds around him begin to turn into the screams of the people of his homeland the fall of Sharima. The darkness was overwhelming Azir, strange sounds of beasts. The mist grew thick, Azir was backing off into a corner, the lights went off. There was nothing but darkness. Azir moved to a wall and posed defensively, an attack of some sort he wondered. Azir heard a noise. The noise of footsteps……one two one two one two, getting louder and louder. The attacker he guessed. The noise stopped.

Nothing but darkness. Azir began to shiver in fear, the darkness was overwhelming him it was too late. The attacker had already seized him he was petrified and could not counter attack. A hand reached out for azir and grabbed him by the waist. It gently urged him forward and Azir could just about hear a voice, it was mufled but he could hear it.

Azir did not struggle. He had the feeling that this person was not an attacker. The Hand pulled azir closer and the image of a young girl appeared. The young girl had dark black hair with bright yellow eyes. She smiled and wrapped her arm tighter around Azir. There there Mr penguin I will get you to a nice place to sleep. Fortunately for Azir that young girl was the daughter of a rich man who owned a hotel nearby.

Azir met him and they began to talk. Their talk was on the world Azir was from and the man was fascinated. He was a player of the game Azir was from so he understood his position however he did not believe that this was the real Azir.

Azir thanked the man for his information as he was given directions after a warm meal. He patted the head of the young girl and bowed to the parents. He made his way to where he wished to be. When he arrived he was very puzzled. It was a small apartment that looked like it had not been used in ages.

A woman was at the door. She stood there puzzled and look at him. She then spoke, what is it? Azir was startled by the tone of her voice. He pulled out the paper and handed it to her. The woman stood and looked at it silently. She quickly looks back at him and pulls out her hand. Azir pulls whatever he had in his pockets and put it on her hand.

The girl looked at him strangely as she routed the key out from the coins and opened the door. Azir watched as she waved for him to go in. The woman had Azir sit down as she went over some different rules and explained how the household worked.

Azir was surprised he was not used to people defining the details of rules that he did not make. When the girl left Azir lay on the bed. He closed his eyes and began to sleep.

The world around him fadded againd and he was brought back to the game world, things returned to normal however he gained a new quote. “The kindness of my disiples is what I miss the most”.

By Sean-Luke Flanagan

Storyboarding

Once I had picked the scenarios to use it was time to storyboard. Good organisation is paramount (no pun intended) before filming. I needed to know the venues, props, actors, camera positions and number of scenes. I also had to consider how many crew members or actors that I might need. There was also health and safety to take into account. Once I had a solid framework and plan in front of me I was then ready for filming.

Public Liability Insurance

Before I could start filming in public areas I had to make sure I had adequate insurance so I purchased an annual artist PLI policy. Now I am ready to go.

The Filming

This was the part I was dreading most as I don’t like to be in front of a camera, in fact I really despise it. I really had to wrestle with my inner daemons to force myself out. Once out I really got into the spirit of it. Wearing a green morph suit as a greenscreen  substitute was actually great fun. Both my camera man and myself were constantly unable to move with laughing. I got more than a few odd looks from strangers. Everyone so far seemed good humoured about it however I did make a baby cry (sorry little baby).

I used the storyboards as a template for each session however I found when I actually started filming I had to change quite a bit on them. Things such as sequence, props, locations and scenes. Some scenes could be shot in one and others needed more consideration. It is all a learning curve for an amateur videographer/director. So far I have 3 of the stories shot. The footage will have to be edited and reduced dramatically in order for it to be usable in the exhibition space.

Influences

There have been a lot of artists who have fed into my practice this year, many from the Social Art Practice area. Here are some of those artists who also use technology as a part of their practice and who are also interested in human interaction with this expanding technological world.

(click links to find out more)

  • Mary Flanagan – in particular ‘Search 2001’ and ‘Phage 2000’

 

  • Juneau Projects – in particular one of their most recent pieces called ‘Happy Redoubt 2016’

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  • Brent Wannabe – in particular ‘San Andreas Streaming Deer Cam – in Grant Theft Auto 2016’

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  • Blast Theory – These guys are truly amazing. I feel their work is very much in parallel to what I am trying to achieve with mine. They use a lot of high tech equipment to make exciting and engaging pieces that also use social participation and collaboration as the key element. I get really enthused about what they are doing. I believe their work is well balanced and conceived and that it fulfils the criteria that I am also trying to capture in mine – by creating a dialogue or a space for people to consider humanities relationship to technology and the real world. My favourite pieces are ‘Can You See Me Now? 2003’ and ‘Karen 2015’.

 

Section from Blast Theory’s Artist Statement:

“While the telecoms industry remains focused on revenue streams in order to repay the huge debts incurred by buying 3G licenses and rolling out the networks, Blast Theory in collaboration with the Mixed Reality Lab are looking to identify the wider repercussions of this communication infrastructure. When games, the internet and mobile phones converge what new possibilities arise?

These social forces have dramatic repercussions for the city. As the previously discrete zones of private and public space (the home, the office etc.) have become blurred, it has become commonplace to hear intimate conversations on the bus, in the park, in the workplace. And these conversations are altered by the audience that accompanies them: we are conscious of being overheard and our private conversations become three way: the speaker, the listener and the inadvertent audience.”

This is to name a few – their have been many artists who have influence my work over the last year and years before.

David Blandy – Click on the name find out more

Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard – Click on names to find out more

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