humanities gaming

hauntology and @samplereality locative game play #hgi

The Derridean puncept hauntology sounds the same as ontology, at least in French (and maybe with a French accent). And I am drawn to the hauntological by Mark Sample's provocative post on his ideas for a game he calls Haunts. Essentially it's a subversion of existing locative games like foursquare for the production of narratives regarding trauma. Here's one bit:

Another twist subverts the tendency of geolocation apps to reward repeat visits to a single locale. Check in enough times at your coffee shop with Foursquare and you become “mayor” of the place. Haunts disincentivizes multiple visits. Check in too many times at the same place and you become a “ghost.” No longer among the living, you are stuck in a single place, barred from leaving tips anywhere else. Like a ghost, you haunt that space for the rest of the game. It’s a fate players would probably want to avoid, yet players will nonetheless be compelled to revisit destinations, in order to fill in narrative gaps as either writers or readers.

I suppose this particular part struck me because Derrida makes similar connections between the virtual and haunting when he writes in Specters of Marx

the virtualization of space and time, the possibility of virtual events whose movement and speed prohibit us more than ever (more and otherwise than ever, for this is not absolutely and thoroughly new) from opposing presence to its representation, ‘real time’ to ‘deferred time,’ effectivity to its simulacrum, the living to the non-living, in short, the living to the living-dead of its ghosts. It obliges us to think, from there, another space for democracy.

OK, so now there are two blockquotes.What next? Well, For Derrida via Freud, the notion of haunting or spooking is connected to the uncanny. If we are haunted by the uncanny vestige of our virtual personae, calling us to encounter our repressed, embodied otherness, the Mark's concept works nicely as an intervention to intensify the uncanny and possibly traumatic practice of virtually haunting locations.

At the same time, I am brought back to that "other" virtual and embodied proprioceptive location. Locative media asserts a satellite coordinated identity on a grid. Mark's complaint/critique of locative games, as I read it, is that they add a secondary coordinate, often in relation to a consumerist identity. Locative media in this respect tends toward a cybernetics of possibility spaces of the body on a grid; the flipside would be the increasingly deselected potentialities and the intermezzo sensorium, beneath the skin, of muscle and balance. It's not just a matter of what you are feeling. Or as they say about zazen meditation: it's not what you think. It's a recognition of the body plugged into a spatio-temporality that is non-linear and emergent. We might even think of Barthes' punctum here: a singular event of exposure.

I know I'm throwing a lot of allusions into that paragraph. Ultimately I suppose my thinking here is to theorize the affectivity/potentiality of our exposure to these gaming assemblages. All games call upon such affectivity as the engine of "flow," but rarely do they call attention to that process. As such I am attracted to the notion of a game that would seek to haunt users with their own virtual potentiality.