Interconnected in Culture for a Stronger Ecosystem

City Club: Cairo Capsules Alliance

by Nadia Mounier 20 / 12 / 2023

City Club: Cairo Capsules Alliance

Games possess a magical power to construct entire worlds, both realistic and fantastical. We can trace a history of games designed to tell the story of a world or document social, political, and cultural moments. Games manifest in the forms of play, entertainment, collaboration, and competition in public spaces such as festivals, birthdays, carnivals, amusement parks, and various popular gatherings. Many of these games narrate tales of heroic feats, legendary epics, and historical events that interact with imagination and knowledge about our urban environment.

Games, like cities, are a mixture of various elements, including rules, symbols, cards, procedures, lanes, chaos, systems, and conditions that constantly impact each other. With this capacity and similarity, the city can shape the game’s context, and games can simulate cities.

The alliance of Cairo Capsules(ADEF, Medrar, Makouk) developed an artistic residency program “City Club” focusing on designing medium to large-scale collective games that leverage and interact with spaces around their players. These games revolve around the urban imagination of public spaces, asking the question, what does the city have?

The question of urban imagination arises in a rapidly evolving reality that tends to reduce public spaces, either through acceleration, mechanization, or removal. This is evident in the current urban trend of many modern cities or plans for future cities in the Arab region. What can we imagine about our urban reality now and in the future? What are the variables that will determine the activities that people can collectively share within their cities? How can games open up a space for imagination about urban culture from the present to the future? What experiences and knowledge are produced by being present and interacting in public spaces, and how can they be shared through play?

City Club is an intensive productive residency that began on February 19, 2023, with a duration of 4 weeks, five days a week, at the headquarters of the Arab Digital Expression Foundation (ADEF) in Cairo. It hosted 14 participants, including game designers, artists, technicians, and Arab makers, who worked on designing and developing games that inquire about our future urban imaginations. During the residency, participants were exposed to game design theories, basic and advanced skills for game development, and engagement with principles and tools related to urban imagination and world-building. This was facilitated by a team of facilitators, consultants, and technicians.

The residency concluded with a closing ceremony and an open invitation to the public to view the final projects at the ADEF venue for one month. During the exhibition, we organized collective evening activities revolving around play and participation. Currently, we are compiling all the residency content and documenting it in an open-source guide. Through this guide, the produced games can be reproduced through simple steps, along with uploading the codes and programming the games on an open-source digital platform.

Documentary video of the residency

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