Aperio: Games and Spaces

Research Group from the Georgia Tech Experimental Game Lab

Link Round-Up: Maps, Lobbies, Bookworm and IKEA

The Aperio Link Round-Up is a weekly feature that gathers articles and blog entires members of the group have found interesting, providing summaries and commentary. These links are not original writings by Aperio members.

Game Lobbies / Green Rooms

Greg J. Smith provides us with his first example of a tentative space—temporary, informational enclosures that a gamer inhabits and modulates while immersed in play or setting the parameters for it. A multiplayer videogame lobby is an official structure designed to host meetings of people so that they may organize their play. Designated and ad-hoc spaces of play preparation are by no means unique to digital media (think: setting up a board game, picking teams on the kickball field, going over the rules of a LARP), but they do entail specifically designed networked software structures that determine the possible combinations of players and rules. While making these decisions, hosts and players begin to adopt their playing personalities, preparing in a place much like the “green room” of performance media. In a theater performance it might be used as a rehearsal space, in a radio station a place to prepare for an interview. Others might use it simultaneously for recreation and to socialize. These same use-types exist multiplayer game lobbies.

Cut Out Maps

Illusion 360 posted a handful of cut-out maps by artist Shannon Rankin. These maps are reminscient of the Situationists’ practice of constructing maps from dérive, like Guy Debord’s Guide psychogeographique de Paris. While the cut-out maps, created foremost as visual design pieces, do not represent a specific instance of understanding, Rankin writes in her artist statement, “The ephemeral nature of maps speaks to the fragile and transitory state of our lives and our surroundings. While bearing traces of the original form, I deconstruct maps to create new geographies, suggesting the potential for a broader landscape.” In addition to the Uncharted Series linked above, make sure to look at her Circle Series, Anatomy Series, and the archives.

Adventureland Drawings 1954

Stuff From the Park has been uploading vintage promotional drawings from Disneyland. These renderings of the park’s attractions and spaces strongly illustrate the detailed effect Walt Disney and the Disneyland designers were trying to achieve. They even encoded the emotions they wanted to evoke in the park’s guests; the woman riding at the front of the Congo Queen is surprised by something in the distance while others gaze in awe. Make sure to check out some of the other renderings while you’re at it.

‘Bookworm’ for iPhone, or against mobile gaming

In a short piece on playing games on her iPhone, writer Bonnie Ruberg muses on an aspect of play spaces similar to those Michael Nistche presented on in Aperio‘s first meeting. She laments the loss of special places of play when mobile devices make games like Popcap’s Bookworm available anytime, anywhere. The player’s behavior outside of the game is constrained by the situation, which means other riders on your bus, for example, will find it odd if you celebrate a high-scoring word with full outward vigor.

IKEA, and the logic of videogame design


Lastly, Dan Golding delves into the IKEA maze, writing about the videogame qualities of shopping. Like a good videogame or well designed theme park, IKEA is concerned with creating a navigable path of activity flow using wayfinding devices (signs, clearly delineated paths), area theming (bedroom, livingroom, kitchen), and maps which show only top-level information. Golding shows how the movement flow of IKEA is like a videogame: you begin with a goal (find X items), are forced to navigate through different levels and overcome obstacles, collect clues (stockroom locations) to where these items are, find shortcuts to help abbreviate the trip, are refreshed quite literally with the restaurant area, and then must face the “final boss” of the warehouse to retrieve the items corresponding to the clues gathered. Need more proof? In 2004 Matthew Baldwin wrote a walkthrough of IKEA as if it were listed on GameFAQs, ASCII art and all.

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