Story at The Tomorrow Project

Happy Yellow StarArc (a new fiction magazine run by the New Scientist people) and The Tomorrow Project are running regular fiction contests. I entered for the theme ‘the future of pleasure’ and was a runner-up.

“Through the Hoops” follows Shaista and Rita Singh, as they practise a futuristic form of parkour / freerunning. You can read a free PDF version, and comment, on The Tomorrow Project website. Or check out Arc’s comments on their Tumblr.

Behind the story…

One of the question posed in the longer description was, What new games will we play?

When I got a 3DS for my birthday, one of the first things I found was Face Raiders*. The game displays the room around you using the 3DS’s camera, and adds on dimensional rifts and aliens to shoot. Augmented reality games interest me a lot more than virtual reality, because it’s not about locking yourself away in a pod somewhere. It’s about getting out and about, only with a slightly different view on the world.

So while thinking about augmented reality, I thought about what you could do in a game the size of a city. The idea of a giant platformer game, by actually having the skills to perform the jumps, was an obvious one.

This has additional conflicts, because the skills needed to navigate a city already exist. Neither parkour or freerunning proponents want it to become a competitive sport. It brings commercialisation and a change in attitude. But with some parkour / freerunning games already existing, it’s easy to see how they might be adapted for an augmented reality system, whether people like it or not.

Though gamers don’t always play by the rules…**

* More accurately, my critique partner found it, photographed himself very badly as the first alien, and then I took it back. I’ve refused to delete the bad photo. He’ll have to live with me shooting at him.

** How quickly can I kill all the Lemmings? How many Earthquakes does it take to destroy a city? How far can I run through the dungeon naked before a dragon eats me? Let’s lock all my Sims in a room and set it on fire!