Archive for urban games


Taking as a starting point a festival that took place a while ago in Amsterdam, called the Mobile Music Workshop

(to read an extensive article, visit we-make- money- not-art)

i am writing about some mobile-music pieces, others directly linked to mobiles, others to education and others to geo-tagging and gps.

01_Gamelan Playtime, by Arlete Castelo & Melissa Mongiat, UK (


This installation draws in passers-by as they walk along Hungerford terrace on the South Bank. By moving their hands across an invitingly tactile surface pedestrians trigger sensors that release recordings of the Royal Festival Hall’s Gamelan set being played by a group of Lambeth school children. The sounds are made up of the Gamelan instruments themselves, human voices and song. The installation is a 30m long “wall”, bringing about unexpected interaction not only between each individual and the surface but also amongst the all the different groups of people engaging with the installation at the same time. more…

02_PLAY.orchestra, by Arlete Castelo & Melissa Mongiat


Play orchestra, recreates an empty orchestra pit of 60 seats. Passers-by can take the stage and experience a musical piece
from the player’s perspective. By taking a seat, the public triggers a recording of the correspondent musical instrument. As more people
sit down, the composition is progressively revealed in its whole. They can further engage with the piece through their mobile phones, by receiving ringtones of the experience they just created, or sending
their own sounds. These will then be part of a new composition to take place within the installation, for other passers-by to discover.’

o3_Net derive, by Atau Tanaka and Petra Gemeinboeck



Participants are given a kind of scarf with a mobile phone in each end and off they go to explore the neighborhood. One of the phones takes pictures every 20 secs and collects sounds, the other talks to the GPS (also in the scarf) and to the server inside the gallery space. On a radar they can see themselves pictured as dots but also the images they’re taking. The sounds and pictures collected in the streets are sampled and mapped to a 3D city map in the gallery. As users are walking they can hear some voice instructions through a pair of headphones. Those comments suggest paths to follow or turns to make, they are generated and heard in a musical fashion.

04_Sonic City, Lalya Gaye, developed by a the Viktoria Institute and RE:form in Sweden, 2004

Sonic city, enables people to compose music in real time by walking through the city, through a mobile wearable interface. The system retrieves information about the environment and user action, and maps it to the audio processing of urban sounds, resulting in music heard through headphones.

–how it works–

Wearing a sensor-equiped jacket, the person can create a personal soundscape co-produced by physical movement, local activity, and urban ambiance.

05_Taking Soundings, by Yolande Harris, KHM


‘Taking soundings is a series of pieces that are emerging from the investigation into landscape and navigation. Taking soundings is a traditional technique of determining the shape and depth of the sea or river-bed by means of a lead and line, and I find an obvious continuity in the gathering of information from satellites via a GPS receiver. Taking soundings of ones position relative to satellites orbiting the earth rather than relative to ones immediate environment, strikes me as a kind of blind guidance, which encourages feelings of security or insecurity. Certainly this giving up of something of ones own intentions and perceptions, being taken by the hand as it were, has parallels with an experience of art. My intentions, rather than taking away peoples ability to act, is to encourage an unfolding of experience, a drift.’ More…

06_Talking cities, Hybrid Space Lab in KHM


The four sculpted audio seating areas are traversed by broad bands, each carrying the audio signal of one of the four radio stations. By means of little cable spools in which loudspeakers are integrated, visitors can go to any point along a band and listen to the programme of that particular radio station in German, or in English. More…


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area-code works



‘this is a massively multiplayer real-world game, tested at the 2005 Ubicomp conference in Tokyo. The game users Japanese Puri Kura sticker-clubs as a starting point for a playful experiment in social networks, automated phonecam image analysis, and urban visual culture.

The goal of the game is to see and be seen using swarms of microscopic images woven through the complex fabric of Tokyo streetlife. Players use only their phonecam and a sheet of tiny Puri Kura self-portrait stickers.

Players place their stickers wherever they want, and then “collect” the stickers of other players by shooting them with phonecams. Mobot technology automatically recognizes the sticker from the image, and assigns points to the player on the sticker and the player who shoots the sticker. Though the game, players become tiny pop icons and attention is refocused on this parallel sticker population, an echo of the crowds around us. ‘



The Sopranos A&E Connection game was designed for the premiere of the Sopranos on A&E TV. Using cell phones to collect pieces,(heroes pictures from posters on the street for example) players composed an online gameboard to anticipate what might happen that night on the Sopranos, much like Fantasy Football works with sports.

When the episode premieres on A&E, the players’ online gameboards come to life and animate synchronously to the TV signal. As the characters, settings and objects of the Sopranos appear on TV, the corresponding pieces animate and score points. (Therefore when tony appears on the screen, tony’s pictures on the gameboard match and give points to the player)


Designed for Qwest Wireless in 2003, this was the first ever use of semacode, optic codes scanned by phonecams. A city-wide treasure-hunt designed for high school students, players went through the city “shooting treasure” with Qwest phonecams and moving their totem pieces to capture territory. The winning team won a $5,000 scholarship for their school. Online, a web site showed the players’ locations and game progress, turning it into a spectacular audience-facing event.

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newish media-toolkit-software

Here are two projects by Newish media, Scoot-team in Australia, to be launched 2007

01_ Cipher Cities


This is a Digital Social Network with simple web tools for individuals and groups to create their own mobile events and event journals. More…



Inspired by SCOOT,(see previous post) the MiLK system is custom made for schools. MiLK is basically a set of simple web interfaces that enable individuals (teachers and students) to design and populate there very own mobile games. The milk-building interfaces are designed to work like a simple series of storyboards with areas to upload images and write SMS text. Once the game designers have submitted their final designs, the storyboard content is dynamically sent to registered users mobile phones in a sequence and style the designers have planned. All communications are then stored and displayed on the students milk-journal for later reflection. The milk-journal is a web page generated by the Milk system and password protected. Students can add comments, upload images, send it SMS and MMS messages and share it with other group members. The teachers are also able to track these activities and set some specific assessment tasks.

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01_TXTualhealing-Paul Notzold

An SMS Enabled Interactive Street Performance, were participants can text each other

or simply post a message on projected bubbles. more…

this is also Paul’s me and my mobile class blog at Parsons

02_ Simple Text by Jonah Brucker-Cohen,


SimpleTEXT is a collaborative audio/visual public performance that relies on audience participation through input from mobile devices such as phones, PDAs or laptops. SimpleTEXT focuses on dynamic input from participants as essential to the overall output. The performance creates a dialogue between participants who submit messages which control the audiovisual output of the installation. These messages are first parsed according to a code that dictates how the music is created, and then rhythmically drive a speech synthesizer and a picture synthesizer in order to create a compelling, collaborative audiovisual performance.More…

03_Usman Haque, Sky Ear


Sky Ear is a one-night event in which a glowing “cloud” of mobile phones and helium balloons is released into the air so that people can dial into the cloud and listen to the sounds of the sky. More…

04 _Tactical Cartography Command Centre (2004), Marc Tuters, Jaanis Garancs


Multi-screen interactive installation, that consists of a space with several display areas, presenting several locative media projects and free GIS applications . The mock military-style command-and-control center engages people in a technically stimulating environment to discover “locative space”, depicting the relationship between the wireless mapping technologies on offer and issues of surveillance and control. More…

05_Graffiti Research Lab, Evan Roth

Interactive Architecture


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Scooty-scoot (…)

Scoot, Created by Debra Polson, Melbourne


SCOOT is a treasure hunt using SMS to help guide as you seek out clues, games and creatures across some Melbourne sites. In the (lovely) Scoot world, there are three groups of creatures the s’avatars, the pesky ones and the ghost agents.

The S’Avatars once lived in SCOOT World in peace until the Pesky Ones arrived with their dodgy carnival games. Now the Pesky Ones are planning to come to our World through the Ghost Tunnels. This can only mean trouble. As an Agent of SCOOT, you will collaborate with the S’Avatars to find their carnival games and foil their Pesky plans. Moreover you will have to collaborate with the ghost agents; these are Agents that have helped the Savatars in the past. You may need their help along the way. This is not the first time the Pesky Ones have tried to bring their dodgy Carnival to your World. There is evidence that long ago in the history of your world, others like you have been trapped in the Mid World by the Pesky Ones. This will not happen again as you have improved technologies (your mobile phone) to communicate with us without going into the Ghost tunnels.

Each creature has special features. A reputation, a favorite friend, whereabouts and a special feature, e.g. can be in one or more places in the Mid world. This will influence strategy while you move forward into the game. As an Agent of SCOOT, you will…

1) Play games in SCOOT World (a computer game) where you can also chat with other Agents and customise your own S’Avatar disguise…
2)Go on a SMS treasure hunt that leads you to interactive games in Melbourne Museums and Galleries…
3)Learn lots of interesting facts about the sites and the wonderful treasures there…
4)Encounter stories of SCOOT creatures displayed on lots of screens along the way.

Ghost Tunnels: they are the links between SCOOT World and Your world. The Pesky Ones have used them to travel between worlds. But the tunnels are very unstable and are causing damage to the worlds they connect.

The Mid World: this is the middle place between SCOOT and our world. Some of the Agents are waiting there to help you. But is also where the Pesky Ones are hiding. You will find many windows to the Mid World in your world. They may look like TVs, plasma, computers etc! Watch out for them!

World Windows: Some screens in your world act as windows to the Mid World. In these windows you will find Agents, Pesky Ones, and messages from the Savatars.

Agents of SCOOT: If you register, you will become a special Agent of SCOOT. You may encounter other Agents along the way that have just joined the Mission.

The SBN: the SCOOT Broadband Network. This is the special channel that the Savatars may use to send you informations on various objects… including World Windows, carnival boxes and your mobile phone


….learn more

how to play


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street games-adventure

01_Hitchers, 2005


In the Hitchers game, the streets are full of people who are trying to hitchhike their way across the city or up and down the country.  Players can:

– Summon give hitchers tasks or missions. Like: find your way home or to a given place and deliver a message/take a photo. Hitchers might also be programmed with questions to ask the players who pick them up, and might even ask them to take photos or record video on their behalf so that hitchers acquire memories as they travel.

– Pick up hitchers. Players are notified about nearby hitchers and get the opportunity to pick them up as they pass by.

– Interact with hitchers. Players can carry hitchers with them for a while and interact with them as they go, answering questions, taking photos and maybe even modifying them.

– Release hitchers again. Players can release hitchers at a new location, leaving them to wait for the next player to come along. However, the hitcher leaves them with a memory – its card – when it goes.

– Follow their progress and share their memories. A central web site tracks the progress of all hitchers. All players can get some background information about hitchers who are out there. Beyond this, a player who has obtained a hitcher’s card can access more information.

02_the GOgame,2001


This is an adventure game, were players-superheroes move along the city with their mobile phone, fulfilling missions . These missions are each time assigned through SMS technology and are related to public spaces. Combining mechanics that we saw in previous posts, such as scavenger hunt and stands, players have to fullfill 10 sneak and snoop missions and 10 plant missions. On game day, you and your teammates will meet at the assigned location and will be given phones, digital cameras and other equipment necessary to document your adventure in order to proof each time that you accomplished your mission. At the end of the game, all teams watch uploaded pictures and videos and vote for best Gogame superheroes. More…

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street games-graffiti

01_Remote Garden, Thesis @ Parsons, Jennifer Williams, 2007


A public projection of a playful chat room that uses mobile phones and text messaging for users to interact.

User scenario :

1) Overhead projection on to the floor or on to the street

2)The projection divides the site into six areas, labeled by letters

3)Users can send the message in one of these areas by formatting the message in this way “Message. Area, Manerism”, e.g.Hi, B, shy

4)upon sending a message a small creature appears on the projection, moving towards the area the user specified in the text message

5)then it displays the message and mannerism


02_Tag, Scripting Presence, Thesis @ Parsons Amy Hung, 2003


Similar project, where interaction is more game-like and players are challenged to play battles for a location-node that has been tagged by another player-

User scenario
1) Player Buckshot joins by text messaging his name and cellphone service carrier code to ‘s telephone number at 646.249.2712

2)Challenging the tag

[challenger]—Player Buckshot battles for the tag at Node 1 by text messaging “BTL 1”.

[tagger]—Node 1’s tagger, Cat, receives a message from informing that her tag has been challenged by player Buckshot & asking if she will defend it

3) Challenging the node—Player Buckshot triumphs in the text battle* and wins the tag at Node 1. His tag displays at the node


03_Grafedia, John Geraci, ITP


In the same mood, grafedia is a quite famous project here among the Parsons people , so I ll keep this short, since there is no game involved. Yet, its absolutely inspiring regarding how to combine technology(phones) and a physical use of the urban space (graffiti).

‘Grafedia is hyperlinked text, written by hand onto physical surfaces and linking to rich media content – images, video, sound files, and so forth. It can be written anywhere – on walls, in the streets, or on sidewalks. Grafedia can also be written in letters or postcards, on the body as tattoos, or anywhere you feel like putting it. Viewers “click” on these grafedia hyperlinks with their cell phones by sending a message addressed to the word + “” to get the content behind the link.’ More…

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