I am currently developing Go Queer, a ludic, locative media experiment that occurs on location, in the city, on the playful border between game and story, the present and the past, the queer and the straight. The game’s title is, of course, a playful nod to Pokémon Go, but it also enacts a double entendre, inviting its players to go (i.e., become) queer and to go queer (i.e., question, challenge). It builds the story of the city of Edmonton’s queer history by displaying text, images, video and audio in place and on location, as spatialized narrative. It invites its users to drift queerly through the city, discovering the hidden histories and memories that always surround us, yet also somehow always remain beyond are view. Its media augment city space, juxtaposing the past onto the present, creating a deep, queer narrative of place.
In a recently published article on the app, I argue that the very structure of locative media can be theorized as a queer mechanic. I argue that “a productive and underrepresented setting for queer play is the space of the city itself and that the hybrid reality of locative media provides particular affordances to enable particularly queer navigations, occupations, and constructions of queer urban space” (Engel 2016). I am now exploring and fleshing out other theoretical underpinnings of the game’s composition, specifically the role of public space, public memory, and countermemory in creating a queer game space. I imagine this talk to be exploratory and open-ended, rather than presenting a tightly crafted argument. My goal is to engage in a conversation about how to think about queer spaces, and how to enact them in a locative/hybrid environment.
Maureen Engel is Assistant Professor and Director of Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta, and Director of the Canadian Institute for Research Computing in Arts (CIRCA). Formally trained as a textual scholar, her background is in cultural studies, queer theory, and feminist theory. Her principal research area is the spatial humanities, and the intricate relationships that inhere in and develop from the concepts of space, place, history, and narrative.