The Peoples Republic of Monsters

Paper presented at Performing Monstrosity in the City, 1st September 2012, Queen Mary, University of London.

Free All Monsters is a location-based game that turns a players iPhone into a Magic Monstervision Machine through which they can spot invisible monsters lurking in our city streets. The game draws upon Lefebvre’s concept of ‘the right to the city’ by encouraging the appropriation of the everyday space in which the game is played. It achieves this by presenting players with lusory goals anchored to the actual environmental conditions relating to that particular space, and at that particular moment in time, rather than the desires of the designer or controller of that space. Further, these goals are not defined by us as ‘the designers’ of the game but by their fellow players who can put into practice their own interplay between context and situation by setting their own monsters free. In relation to role of monsters on the mechanics of the game we reject the Gothic view of monsters in favour of the Japanese tradition of yōkai. Therefore for us Monstrous’ is not used in relation to being ‘hideous or frightful’ but rather relates to the collecting and cataloguing of these fabulous imaginary creatures. As there is no limit to the number of monsters that can be set free we intend the game itself to become monstrous, on a gigantic scale, self generating and beyond our control.