Is this a game? – Towards a constructive audience contract in the participatory arts.
All traditional art forms have established social contracts with their audience, dictating their behaviour and attitudes. Western movie audiences generally suspend disbelief, allowing them to be emotionally affected through a process of secondary identification with the characters on screen. Social entertainments like Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), participatory dramas and pervasive games are currently in the process of formulating this contract with its emerging global audience. Using the famous “TINAG” (This Is Not A Game) agreement used in most ARGs as a point of departure, this workshop explores the possibilities and pitfalls of encouraging different audience attitudes. The discussion and design exercises span the full range from pure competitive game-ism, via secondary identification, all the way to no-bars held 24/7 live-action role playing.