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Let’s play a game: The Unofficial Gaming and Tourism Commission’s Guide to Fun and Finding Yourself

By Carolyn Tripp

Tag, Monopoly, Scrabble, Duck-Duck-Goose, Hungry, Hungry Hippos, Yahtzee, Poker, Spin-the-Bottle, Seven Minutes of Heaven, I Know Black People!!!. The list reaches the moon (a wolf howls) and goes further still. How do we know it’s a game? Is everybody in on it? Are we having fun? And if we aren’t, are we paranoid that our peers will notice?

(Me and Julio…) Despite the social awkwardness around childhood group activities, the Game always seemed a terrific equalizer. Everybody wants to play a game, and work didn’t seem like such a daunting task if put to a song or even given a set of rules with the promise of a prize at the end. It was also a decent defence against the evils of sloth and ennui.

(The Dating ____) As we reached some kind of adulthood, we invited other sacred things into the realm of The Game. Relationships seemed to be the biggest and most frequent contender. We still tell ourselves we’re having fun, even though less is being had and eventually each and every one of us feels the sting of being the loser. And the paranoia of being left out increases too.

(Enter Art Practice) Now that we’ve become aware that various aspects of our lives are games, should we dare include anything under the artistic label? In the conventional sense, art is divided by “good” and “bad” or “acceptable” or “not.” But what about “Gaming” and “Non-Gaming?” Not that it is ever that simple in terms of categorization and formal criticism, but where there is fun to be had, the choice is so seldom made for its inclusion.

(Civic Pride Is Just Another Relationship) The creation of projects based on a city are often met with some difficulty, so too are discussions concerning municipal politics if they don’t hold enough intrigue to stand on their own. This then led to the Gaming and Tourism Commission being created in 2006 to better communicate my own joys and tribulations concerning our fair city. Since the word “game” is also used to describe a generally accepted moniker that means essentially, “dead animal on display” it seemed only appropriate that it be coupled with Tourism. The acceptability of “fun” art increases with these two factors and also leads us to consider how they met in the first place.

(Genesis of A Grand Union) Gaming and Tourism are a decent pair. They hooked up while walking down the street (in opposite directions) one sunny day. They stopped at a crosswalk and started chatting about animal poaching and attracting tourists. The two soon realized that the topics were pretty vulgar, and yet in both of their cases, held a strong audience due to their effective coupling of fascination and the promise of intrigue.

Fascination is held by seeing the “thing” taken out of its original context. We all stare in awe at the city from a cheesy street festival or the head of a deer hanging on a wall, and yet we are no closer to seeing the “actual” thing than we were before we planned the trip in the first place.

Is this union even an appropriate one? Perhaps Gaming and Tourism are just physical. Who can say? Through PDAs, declarations of love that is not our own, and playing in traffic, the Commission does not seek to provide any definitive answers, but perhaps seeks to offer some insight concerning this joyous and rather crass relationship.

(Russian Roulette) With the need for participatory components, no Gaming or Tourism project is complete without the inclusion of others. They’re always handed a set of rules and sent off into the wild. The Pocket Game was the first endeavor as such. The GTC made an unlimited multiple that took the form of a small book. Participants then took these away with instructions on how to find moose at different locations in the city. The Pocket Game was then completed when they found a (printed) moose head and took it away with them. Gaming and (forced) Tourism, in a way.

(Group Therapy) In this issue, you’ll find games of all kinds, for escapism and avoidance, adherence to ritual and ones we thought up last month. Not every game is consciously created with the idea that it exists only to provide us with more acceptable means to communicate. However, I’d guess that nine times out of ten, games are thinly veiled attempts to improve the relationships with whom or what we feel at odds.

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