Ludo-pocalypse: Mediating the Ludic Zeitgeist
On a global scale, the gaming industry is now worth over $100 billion and is growing at approximately nine percent each year, outpacing other forms of media such as movies and music. This emergence can be linked to the concept of postmodernism and cybernetics, where it deconstructs the traditional interaction between the creator and the audience. In games, players are relied on to negotiate the meaning of the game and also to interact with it. In the context of new media, this has resulted in the rise of the post-human and homo ludens – figures of a complex ludic rendering of the transition between the virtual and the physical. The significance of gaming culture, combined with the progression of new media and technology, has led to an intensification of digital mediation in the urban built environment.
The vision for an augmented future where digital gaming content interpolate physical spaces is strengthened through the lens of Pokemon Go - a location-based, augmented reality, mobile game. It has become a social zeitgeist of the times, creating moments of augmentation by superimposing its own set gameplay and game mechanics onto the urban built environment.
This thesis argues a future defined by ubiquitous gaming where spaces become more complex as the individualised practices and values of each game release operate in tension with the conventional workings of the physical world. Disturbances surface between active players and the negligent occupants of space - classified as non-players. Secondly, numerous reports of vehicular accidents surrounding Pokemon Go manifests a tension between ubiquitous gaming and transport infrastructure. Lastly, the location-based feature of Pokemon Go has seemingly broken down the boundary between private and public spaces whereby players are inclined to trespass on private property in order to acquire in-game items. These augmented conditions raises the question of whether the current built environment is able to accommodate the looming augmented future.
The research speculates on the future of augmentation by investigating an architecture that celebrates the flourishing gaming industry, as well as mediating the agonistic conditions created by the application of ubiquitous gaming. The methodology applied for conceptual development of the design research draws on game design, notably the concepts of the magic circle and flow informed by the writings of Johan Huizinga and other intellectuals from the fields of ludology and psychology. Findings from investigating Pokemon Go and other games as well as mediated design techniques, engender architectural concepts which act as agencies for a proposition that aims to assert architecture within the topic of urban augmentation. Ludo-pocalypse: Mediating the Ludic Zeitgeist is an architectural proposition that brings architecture to light in the growing mediation of virtual components within tangible spaces.