Running around the streets of Brazil at 7am in the morning is an exhausting process as I found out by playing http://www.canyouseemenow.co.uk/.today. It's the latest game/street installation from the incredible group at www.blastheory.co.uk.
Can You See Me Now is a chase game played online and on the streets. Players are dropped at random locations onto a virtual map of the streets around Belo Horizonte, a city in South East Brazil.
[extract from their site] Tracked by satellites, Blast Theory's runners appear online next to your player. Situated in the real city, handheld computers showing the position of online players guide the runners in tracking you down.An audio stream from Blast Theory's walkie talkies lets you eavesdrop on your pursuers: getting lost and out of breath on the real streets. If a runner gets within 5 metres of you, a sighting photo is taken and your game is over.
In practice all of this is incredibly surreal as you hear people talking to each other to track you down, vocally responding to your texts and doing their best to manuaver around busy the busy street life of the neighbourhood.
It blurs several reality boundaries. The players were not only reacting to people on the street around them, but also talking as if they could see us running in front of them in real time. They frequently paused to reminisce about people they hadn't seen for a while which added to the atmosphere and injected a kind of performance disturbance into what seemed to be a 'real' game. The excitement of being somehow simultaneously in two places at once was also interesting. I was running around the streets and being engaged with as a fugitive...while at the same time occaisionally dipping into my facebook or writing an email.
Unfortunately I was caught several times over by the Runners much to my annoyance. But there was an element of comradery to this that made it fun and frustrating at the same time.
The event plays for two more mornings and is a fantastic way to see technology used in a really creative way...and has applications for working with youth around environmental issues and getting people engaged with spaces in a new way.
I also checked out Superstruct..an environmental ARG designed to educate people about various possible futures. They have some slick visuals and interactive materials that are worth looking at...and of course the idea is that you contribute to the story by sending in your own material. Excellent educational resources, and a great step on from http://worldwithoutoil.org/ but slicker.