In this paper I compare an interventionist approach to playing the city among artists to a curiously parallel military approach to ludic occupation of urban terrain. Drawing on theories developed outside of the humanities, I cite the military rationale behind asymmetrical warfare, as well as referencing “post-mortem” level design reflections from the computer game industry, unravelling what adds up to a gamic militarization of civilian population centres. I then turn my attention to the “artist’s camp,” following a thread that begins with the early formulations of Parisian Situationist artists and architects for playing the city. This interventionism is later taken up in the performative disturbances of systems orchestrated by “hacktivist” artists. I close this paper with analysis of ludic activist affronts and protests staged on the militarized streets and public arenas of computer war games. My framing of these urban play practices is intended to illuminate the power of the game over the player, as well as to offer hope of changing the game.
Anne-Marie Schleiner is engaged in gaming and net culture in a variety of roles as a cultural critic, curator, anti-war activist, and gaming artist/designer. She has taught at universities and artist workshops and participated in art residencies in Germany, Belgium, Spain and Mexico. She has exhibited in international galleries, museums and festivals, most recently the Body in Women’s Art Now at London’s Rollo Art and the New Hall Art Collection, University of Cambridge. She currently teaches game design in the Communication and New Media Program at the National University of Singapore in South East Asia and is pursuing a doctorate in Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam.