Mobile Distraction Portals

[wikilike_img src=|caption=Journey of Jin, Erin Dinehart|url=|width=175|align=thumb tcenter]

Last night, the 3rd year Interactive Media Division students gave their thesis presentations. They were short, 15 minute presentations and an even shorter (imho) opportunity to question projects, sadly. Time’s a consideration, certainly, and I’m sure students get lots of time to have their productions interrogated and critiqued throughout the term, but I was eager to ask more questions — I had a question or two plus I’m sure follow-up, or just plan things to chat about for every student, but only got in edgewise for a handful.

One project that got me thinking was Erin Dinehart’s mobile game “Journey of Jin.” The project is notable for its graphic illustration, and that its a quest-style game for mobile. That’s all good. But what I got hopped up about was Erin’s allusion to a question (that more-or-less saved me from asking sort of the same thing) that Scott Ruston posed — how is this game about mobility? Meaning, what aspects of movement, pedestrianism, motility, whatever — does this game reflect? At one point during the term, I had asked him to consider this, because the game by itself does not tap into any of the “typical” (knee-jerk) characteristics of mobility that you hear folks chatting about eagerly — there’s no locative element, no GPS, cell tower triangulation, motion sensors, etc. At the time a few months ago, Erin thought about it and wanted to think about how this thinking might decant into the game itself. But last night, what he said made me think about the really important characteristic of mobility that the game does tap into, which I’m just condensing into this awkward phrase — Mobile Distraction Portal.

Mobile Distraction Portal.

I kind of like it. Erin said the game was a place to escape to that is like where he went when he was a kid when he was herded around with his family and his brother was annoying him. Just a place to immerse into and become freely distracted by the activities around us.

In some sense, this is the alter ego of the “casual game”, only it’s more explicit about a particular kind of casual behavior. Similar in many regards to what Souris described as those Blackberry moments when, in an elevator with lots of strangers, people unsheath their Blackberry’s or mobile phones and poke around in them so as to avoid looking down at the floor, up at the ceiling, or the back of someone’s head.

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