The Space Between Debord and Pikachu


DiGRA '17 - Proceedings of the 2017 DiGRA International Conference
Melbourne, Australia: Digital Games Research Association, July, 2017
Number: 1
Volume: 14
ISBN / ISNN: ISSN 2342-9666

In the heady discourse following the launch of Pokémon Go, many of the game’s influences, histories and precursors were forgotten or over-looked. Against the newness in which Pokémon Go is often framed, this article re-contextualises its history examining comparable practices and recalling the games evolution from earlier locative applications developed by Google to the experimental games of the modernist Avant Garde to which it has been compared. Central to this paper is discussion of the opportunities in the pervasive game development process for encoding and recoding the city by balancing in-game content with the nuances of the urban landscape in which it is played. While Pokémon Go has been revelatory in bringing awareness of pervasive gaming into the mainstream, this discussion of location-based games, public art projects, and playful approaches to urban exploration aims to fill gaps in the history of the field, and offer new possibilities for future game design and analysis.