Monday, August 21, 2006

Hotbooks - turning the library into a game space

From kottke I found out about the The Come Out and Play Festival - a "festival dedicated to street games. It is three days of play, talks, and celebration, all focused on new types of games and play." I want to go out and play but I'm housebound at the moment. So instead I can only read about the festival on the web...

Its being held in New York City and on September 23rd there's a game afoot in the New York Public Library called Hotbooks. From the "Come out and play" description:
Libraries are dying spaces. Hot Books is a game designed to bring life back into libraries by forcing players to explore, discover and share the deserted and unexplored spaces that make up a library.

Hot Books is a game where players “attach” books to each other. The game play of Hot Books takes place over the internet. Each player starts by creating a profile for himself. Other players then attach book titles to that profile and gain a point. If a player wants to detach a book from his profile, he has to go to the library and find a specific word in that book, which allows him to detach the book. Once the player detaches the book, he can attach it to any other player.

The game augments the library into a social space –where books are re-imagined into social markers that creates a new experience of exploring a library.
The game was designed by Nick Reid for a game design class at UC Berkeley and the game The game was inspired by the unused, lost and forgotten book(s?) in UC Berkeley's Doe Library. My favourite part from the original description of the game is this:
The critical moment of the game occurs when the real world and digital space no longer coincide, which happens when a book is lost in the library. This creates an impossible situation for the player, since the player must be able to find the book in order to obtain the key to detach it. If the player cannot find the book, then the play of passing the books stops. This critical moment, and the dilemma it present when the player cannot find the book, illustrates the fragility of the physical world of books.
Recently I've noticed a number of these events where a public space is turned into field of play. Why today on Boing Boing I learned that there will be an "alternate reality game" set in Toronto called Waking City -- "a kind of city-wide ongoing scavenger-hunt and puzzle where clues and collaboration come over the net".

And evidently, for more details, one must attend an information session being held at The Lillian H Smith Library.

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