This presentation is intended to be an empirically and historically informed critical reflection on pervasive, context-aware games that are being developed by media artists and computer game designers. Pervasive games are games that use mobile and location-sensitive technology to link players and that straddle the divide between game and non-game space. This presentation will frame an examination of pervasive gaming in terms of studies of divided attention/discrepancy/simultaneous multiple sensory streams, because that framework yields historical and empirical evidence that can be useful for a reflection on the possibilities context-aware, pervasive gaming open up for human experience.
Studies have only lately recognized that the phenomenon of divided attention is unavoidable in pervasive gaming. Yet, the recent consensus in experimental psychology concerning the performance of tasks in the condition of divided attention is quite negative. Its implications for pervasive gaming are not encouraging.
Nevertheless, game developers and players find pervasive gaming promising and even exciting. This presentation will suggest that there is an older body of observations and experimental work that can be drawn on to further the understanding of pervasive gaming and to gain insight into why people may find its prospects exciting. This body of work comes from separate and unrelated developments that occurred in the 1950s, in which groups of experimental artists and filmmakers, on one hand, and acoustic engineers and experimental psychologists, on the other, faced sometimes unexpected results from working with disconnected and overlapping perceptual streams.
How these experimenters, who were preoccupied by similar problems despite the fact that they had different outlooks, made sense of their observations and experiments will inform the examination of several examples of pervasive games that have recently been developed by media artists and computer game designers.
Keywords: Mobile Computing, Locative Media, New Media Arts, Computer Games, Lettrism, Isidore Isou, Guy Debord, Gil Wolman, Divided Attention
Dr. Astrid Vicas
Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, Saint Leo University