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Like the classic superhero myths it references, the exuberant playfulness of the PlaceStorming project belies the seriousness of its underlying theme. The open call to action pits mild-mannered academic works, transformed into “superhero manifestos,” against a sinister plot separating academic impact and real-world relevance.
The notion that the ideas represented in these original texts, when given dramatic, activist form by “PlaceStormers,” might resonate with audiences outside of their usual scholarly circles is an exciting one, but one that seems harder to believe even, than men of steel and Amazons flying invisible planes. The question that immediately presents itself is one of feasibility: can the “everyman” really be provoked to heroic intellectual action by the bite of radioactive Geocache manifestos? Or will the PlaceStormers themselves, as actors and audience, turn out to be those already familiar with the secret powers hidden in the original texts?
That issue aside, I have to say that I was appropriately inspired by the intent. I have done a fair bit of everyday Geocaching, and have spent some time musing about the dismal state of meaningful play within a typical quest. Having hiked, hidden, trespassed, and gotten caught in a high tide with nothing to show for it but a box of mismatched chess pieces, key chains, bobble heads and foreign coins, I truly appreciate the attempt of this project to turn the basic “hide and seek” objective of standard Geocaching into something that resonates beyond orienteering oneself to a physical location.
- Tracy Fullerton, USC Cinema-TV, 09.14.2005
PlaceStorming defines as one of its goals, “To embed a secret layer of play in a public space.” Geocaching is interesting because it seems to represent the essence of taking gaming out into the world, but PlaceStorming takes it to another level: not only does the game subvert the spaces of the “real world” by having a secret game going on, but it also subverts the “sanctity of texts” by asking the players to pick apart texts and incorporate them into the game.
Being able to take a text and dissect in physical space, as opposed to through discussion or through written analysis, may lend a unique level of understanding and dialogue to the way the academy deals with writing.
As shown in some of the Sister Chorines, schoolchildren were able to take part in the game, but the question will remain to be seen as to whether or not the concepts can be effectively conveyed.
- Neel Garlapati, University of Southern California, 12.08.2005