Playing life and living play

de Souza e Silva, A., & Sutko, D. (2008). Playing Life and Living Play: how hybrid reality games reframe space, play, and the ordinaryCritical Studies in Media Communication, 25 (5), 447-465.

Abstract: Hybrid reality games (HRGs) employ mobile technologies equipped with Internet access and location awareness to create a multiuser game space that occurs simultaneously in physical, digital, and represented spaces as denoted by the player’s mobility. This essay analyzes and compares two HRGs: I Like Frank and Day of the Figurines. The goal is to understand games and play as activities intrinsically and inseparably connected to our physical spaces and to our daily lives by focusing on the interconnection between play and ordinary life, game community, and player identity. The essay also interrogates how these games reconfigure and reflect current concepts of surveillance, community and anonymity in city spaces. The development of these concepts expands current research about how new Internet-connected mobile communication technologies change our experience of physical spaces by adding to them imaginary playful layers that influence player mobility through the city and promote singular types of interactions among physical, digital and represented spaces. Our analysis considers the intertwined and complex consequences of HRGs and other locative media, illustrating how such media can both normalize and provide modes of resistance to certain power relationships.