You are not here. when you’re there.

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Did more work on You are not here. today, but mostly of boring technical variety. Which is to say I spent most of my day debugging GPS and not completely fixing it. Sometimes you can walk around with your phone in the real world and have the red dot navigate the Champs des Possibles, sometimes less so. Also implemented tilt-based controls for the phone because that was mentioned as an interesting semi-physical alternative for navigation in discussion. But ultimately the game looks pretty much exactly the same as yesterday, so not the most inspiring day’s work.

On the other hand, while I was walking around with my phone in downtown Montréal while navigating this urban wild in another part of the city, it did feel like something. I definitely felt that sense of phone-obsession, staring at the dot moving (and admittedly often not moving) over a landscape I knew was somewhere else kind of nearby. The irony of walking down a city street while also “walking in a park” was nice, I thought, and did kind of work. I guess the key is to help emphasise that disjunction with the ‘content’ of the game (the various dialog boxes/images that will pop up over time).

One funny aspect of all this is that the GPS was crappy in the city, and one place it would probably be quite a lot better would be… in the Champs des Possibles, where the game is set. You could, of course, take the phone to the actual place represented in the game and walk around more or less in a way that corresponds to where the red dot “really is” in the satellite representation of the park, and the red dot would move along with you. This kind of reveals that there are two levels of “not here”ness involved in the game, I think:

You are not here, you’re in the city. The obvious level is that you most likely wouldn’t be looking at this game while actually in the Champs. Rather, you would be on your computer, perhaps in London, maybe somewhere in Australia, etc. Thus you would literally not be in the location depicted in the game.

You are not here, you’re n the world. The more pleasing level, brought up by the idea of playing the game in the Champs itself, is the idea that you’re not “here” to the extent that the here specified by the game is, in some ways, a virtual/fake/pseudo location. The non-place of staring at a cellphone and perceiving the world inside the phone rather than your actual surroundings, the idea that “you are not here” because you’re lost in your screen. Thus you could be standing in the Champs des Possibles, hunched over your phone screen, looking at an image of the Champs des Possibles, and so kind of “not there”.

And it works in both directions. You’re “not here” because you’re kind of not “spiritually” in the real location (you’re distracted by the phone/interface), and you’re also “not here” in the sense that the representation you’re looking at on your phone is not a real place – you can’t actually be there, you’re actually standing in the real world. So it kind of gets at a tension that I think is semi-interesting, perhaps.

These are my thoughts, such as they are.

5 April 2017
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