Killing Me Softly
My pal Ian Bogost of Georgia Tech has been in the spotlight a lot recently answering allegations that violent videogames could be linked directly to last week's terrible college shooting in Montreal. (My SIGGRAPH co-panelist International Game Developers Association President Jason Della Rocca has also fielded questions from the media.)
Luckily, Bogost has also been getting attention for his work with super-cool Alternate Reality Game developer Jane McGonigal in the launch of Cruel 2 B Kind, a "game of benevolent assassination" played with mobile phone technology. The game is played out in public with "assassins" working in teams of two. At the start of the game, a text message arrives with information about each team's secret "weapon" and secret vulnerability. Names and photographs of players are not disseminated, so total strangers may find themselves involved in the action.
The switcheroo? Opponents battle with what seem to be charming and spontaneous acts of kindness, such as compliments, proffered posies, blown kisses, and sentimental serenades. Passers-by may be confused by the evasive maneuvers of potential recipients facing the overtures of would-be urban Samaritans, but they are also likely to be impressed by the sudden outbreak of public civility and romance. This game should be interesting for anybody who digs Habermas, Latour, or subversion of conventional approaches to violence and gaming. Check out the rules for yourself.
Citizens of New York City can try the game for themselves during the Come Out and Play Festival this coming weekend.
And while you're trying to figure out what can and can't be taken on an airplane these days -- like highly dangerous wrinkle cream or baby formula -- play the online newsgame Airport Security, also from Bogost's studio.