A Hostile World: A Pervasive Urban Game to Sensitise and Foster a Cross-Cultural Reflection

A Hostile World: A Pervasive Urban Game to Sensitise and Foster a Cross-Cultural Reflection

Maresa Bertolo, Ilaria Mariani
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6206-3.ch012
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A Hostile World is a persuasive game designed for an urban context with a high level of multiethnic presence, a recurrent feature of the contemporary megalopolis. Our players are ordinary native citizens who are plunged into an alternative reality where they can realize how complex and demanding it is to deal with gestures and tasks of everyday life in a foreign context, trusting them to live a destabilizing experience that aims to increase the sensitivity, understanding, and empathy towards foreigners, soothing the existing multicultural tensions. The game is a quest-based system; quests recreate situations of everyday-life needs, from shopping to bureaucratic adventures; it's designed to be modular and its sessions may change in the number and quality of quests adapting to different cities, contexts, and targets. The authors identify its effectiveness through the analysis of data collected during and after actual gameplay.
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Setting The Stage

We live in a historical moment in which our communities are urged to face and deal with complex and pressing socio-cultural issues. The contemporary western cities are hybrid and multifaceted realities, characterized by a fluid and dynamic nature that makes them able to change and transform as needed. Being the stage of social, technological and architectural change, cities influence to a large extent the life of their citizens.

In the last decades we have witnessed an unprecedented technological evolution that has resulted in a more than just significant impact on living spaces and how they are lived (Shepard, 2011; Flusser, 2004). The cities are spaces in which tangible and intangible entities co-exist; they are areas of prevailing knowledge crossed by a network of information with multiple access points. They are interwoven with a mobile and widespread pervasive technology that has profoundly changed the way in which people relate to each other, to the information itself, and especially to the space and time of everyday life. By nature, the city has always been stratified, but today it seems that this connotative trait has been brought to whole new levels.

Looking at all this with the eyes of a designer, we notice that there is a space of possibilities, full of urgencies and opportunities, in which many entities need to be designed by someone who is aware of the different dimensions involved. This complex system results to be extremely interesting for the research on the contiguous areas of Communication and Game Design, since more and more frequently the designer is asked to design both the interaction and the experience between the land itself and its inhabitants. Using instruments that are suitable to support social innovation, the designer has shown to be able to become an interpreter and facilitator of the dialoguing processes and social sharing (Meroni & Sangiorgi, 2011).

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