The idea of being on your phone is, these days, associated with waiting for your coffee, trying to look cool when your date is late, or using GPS maps to try and find a bar. But what if there was something that encouraged you to not only use your phone in public, but simultaneously connect you more deeply with your physical surrounding? What if your phone urged you to explore—to get out and see a city? Here in Indy, that idea is in full swing with The City of Forking Paths—the newest playable city game to hit town.
Vishant Shah, the man who made The City of Forking Paths a reality for Indianapolis, first saw the capabilities of a city adventure game while in London playing the Pan Studio game Hello Lamp Post. Shah found the game to be somewhat of a SMS guided walking tour, but also something that transformed the city into an adventure board—where local writers could host their own stories and people could pay to follow along.
Coming back to the states, Shah, a member of the crowd funding company Concept Catapult, thought to contact the developers for an Indianapolis version of the game. Today, City of Forking Paths is a reality. It is a playable city game that will debut the weekend of August 14-17 on the streets of downtown Indianapolis. Players can choose to access different stories from the app that people can play, including a game targeted toward attendees of GenCon.
“Playable cities” are taking the gaming world and turning conventional physical stagnation of board games and computer games into a space where the city itself is the board and you are a piece of the puzzle. Playable cities also reach far beyond the convention of walking tours as far as getting to know a city because you are given the choice to go left or right, to see that monument or that library—you decide what you want to do.
And lastly, by choosing your game, you are deciding what story you want to hear from a local person who has a deep connection to their physical, local area. As you walk along the streets of Indianapolis getting text messages of your location and storyline—prompting you to change locations and answers—City of Forking Paths will blend fiction and truth, history and futurism, and you will enter a world that will make you remember the city in ways like never before.
If you’ve got 30 minutes around August 14-17, hand yourself over to the game, and let it take you wherever. Let your phone become your remote control for enjoying the city.