walk with me: a location-based game and podcast following characters from the city of gold

CAN GAMES MAKE A BETTER FUTURE?

Interdisciplinary teams including architects, urban planners, IT experts and artists in 15 African cities creating location-based games – playable on mobile phones. Games that anticipate our cities’ transformation processes and envision future scenarios: Which challenges for infrastructure, culture and the environment emerge? How can they be experienced and solved in a playful way?

Since April 2018 I have been part of the Johannesburg team, developing an interactive narrative and game as part of Enter Africa, a Goethe initiative across 15 countries and cities on the African continent.

The location-based game “Walk with me” is played on a mobile app, which allows you to visit and connect to content and media within different geo-tagged locations, access and complete tasks, and other actions or challenges. The game we created was an experience of 6 locations in the city, including Constitution Hill, Soweto, Sandton, Maboneng, Braamfontein and Melville. Within each location a character initially asks the player for some form of ‘help’, but eventually it becomes more of a “walk-together”, when the dialogue and relationship becomes of more greater value. During the journeys the characters convey their personality, values, history, points of views and also hint of their connections with the other characters.

Our focus for this experience has been on the subject of ‘diversity’ in

the South African context, the effects, externalities and part it plays within an urban community and its future, the sources from which society’s status quo evolved from – not just the physical, but psychological and philosophical lines, that continuously affect how we think, behave, rationalise, conform and normalise. Transforming our research, questions and exchanges into 6 characters that voice and embody local views, attitudes and personalities, that coincide and clash.

Taking a direct research approach to developing and writing these characters, in one example – Matome, a middle-aged father (of two other characters) working in the city as an Uber driver. His narrative was developed through over 60 conversations with individuals driving in the city, engaging with their concerns over the economy, their volatile industry, politics, their families, hobbies, dreams and idiosyncrasies.

Meet one of our characters below in Podcast 1 (draft version) where the narrator gets acquainted with Prudence – an 18 year old about to enter law school, politically vocal, compassionate and open minded. Her mother is another character Lauren from Zimbabwe, who runs a shebeen in an informal settlement (another personality based on a true person)…

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