September 26, 2011hkalternate reality, cross media, gaming, simulacra, social impact, transmediaNo Comments

To be on the run can indeed be big fun. Sometimes it does not matter if you are the rabbit or the hunting dog. Sometimes it very much does. The scheme of “Catch Me If You Can” (see the movie with DiCaprio striking the same chord AND being based on a true story) gets already rehearsed in childhood times and is a very satisfying and simple joy for all the parties involved. Be dedicated to pursue and track down, have the thrill of escaping and outwitting the pursuant. As a game for adults it must not be confined in the playgroud of mating and seduction but may very well be acted out like in a movie. For example, this scheme of interaction might get molded into a real live street game like in 2.8hours later, a bloodthirsty zombie zone situation directed set up in streets of London eventually leading into party, cocktails & dancing after being an the run from Zombies for approx. 3h on coming Thurs 27th every night till Sat 29th. Blood, sweat and adrenaline and Zombie tunes as entertainment for the ones who do not move enough while nervously watching the latest Zombie flicks.

It is no surprise that the new realm of cross-platform storytelling or transmedia proves to be a fertile ground for such dynamics and is full of engaging projects which which involve tracking down and chasing things and persons, like in Perplex City (by Mind Candy), Hope is Missing (by Lance Weiler), The Truth about Marika (by Company P) or Conspiracy365 (by Hoodlum) among numerous others…

It could be chase like that envisioned by the Intel marketeers, a chase of characters through different programs on your desktop, making it not really “transmedia” in a strict sense, but multi-platform for the digital characters involved – and fun to watch. It still remains a video which plays with opening the borders between applications and usually separated visual aesthetics:

On the other hand, you could watch ex-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger being chased around by a brutal dystopian gamified society in “Running Man” (1987) based on the novel of Stephen King with the same title. Similar plots are the base of the German movie Das Millionenspiel (1970) or The Prize of Peril, a novel by Robert Sheckley, published in 1958. The prophecy of such Reality TV shows seems to resemble eerily what nowadays became “normal” in the still thriving international format of Reality TV shows and celebrity creation schemes eventually cristallyzing into the gamified building blocks of post-postmodern mainstream society. Arnold himself is now himself a chased man in the reality of the state of California, but out of different reasons than in his pre-political career: He got tracked down by resembling the offspring of his housekeeper in physiognomy a little too much. If you may go so far to speak of a child being something like a simulacrum in live flesh than this may point to the history of a man who was running away from his actions for years. A history which also includes the Los Angeles Times chasing that rumor after the couple´s separation (NYDaily News reflecting that two days later). A chase is hard work, but often the hunted is running into the arms of the hunters, so all you may do is wait and watch for trapping something successfully.

Chasing may be called the main charactaristic of action movies and is playing constantly on that tune, epitomizing the interplay of movement, action and reaction. Nevertheless, in taking a closer look on Captain Freedom´s workout in the dawn of such movies like Captain America now in 2011 the differences in the variations of “chase” in the context of “freedom” and “fitness” may become more evident:

The brutal and in some countries banned stealth horror game Manhunt 1 & 2 by Rockstar Games (well known for their Grand Auto Theft Series) is to be mentioned not only for its critique concerning the Film- and Mediabusiness, but also of causing a controversy about the depiction of violence in the game´s goal, chasing and executing street gang “hunters” following the instructions of a snuff movie director. It DOES matter In which context a chase is embedded in and with which degrees of freedom you may act. The kind of framework of rules you may play by is structuring who becomes chaser or chased, may it be in kindergarten in a street game or in politics. Social learning derives a lot from the setting and the kind of interaction which it allows – but nobody would be suspicious if kids are chasing each other in a backyard. If this chase involves chainsaws, the chaser is called “Cash” and the levels of the game “scenes” then one might not call this innocent anymore. But in general this might be a big part of our social reality.

Around 2000 there was the offer to do a real Manhunt for the winning prize of 10.000 USD called “Reality Runner”, which was planned to be carried out in several cities including Berlin (see (only german) or The format emerged in Amsterdam and you had to search for Roger, who got casted out of 9000 applicants and had to remain uncaught for 24 days to win the money. The format did not seem to catch up and was quickly being overshadowed by very real manhunt – the chase after Osama Bin Laden following the events of 9/11 including two wars and a lot of media coverage till beginning of May 2011, when the chase ended with Bin Laden´s death through bullets of a US Special Ops Commando in Pakistan. Man down. File closed.

There is no reason to assume that this was the last example of a very common and widespread practice, sometimes played for fun, sometimes for feeding, mating, financial gain or reasons like “freedom” or “justice”. Media formats reflecting that tap into an universal theme which plays out strenghts of both the film and game genre. Sometimes it might be a wise choice to give it a shot and run away from “reality” – sometimes you might lie down and wait until reality reaches you. Like in Aesop´s “The Hare And The Tortoise”, to choose a character and it´s role might not predefine the outcome of a game…

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