Looking in to see what was cooking I settled for some Hangzhou Travel noodles and mutton. After I’d bought a bowl of tea the woman hurried over and dumped Hangzhou Travel a handful of nut shells into it, then added a scoop of clear stuff that looked vaguely like ice but turned out to be honey. Delicious, a Hui custom, this must be a Hui restaurant. On the walls I noticed posters of Hui generals on horseback, and was struck by the thought that each general had the same expression on his face as his horse. Well, we say that people grow to look like their pets. There was one temple that I specifically wanted to see and after a lazy last cup of tea I went back uphill to the monastery square.
Beyond the hype of Jie Pang as a first generation commercial mobile LBS game, it is apparent that respondents are using geosocial applications as a meaningful part of everyday practice. The electronic is overlaid with the socio-emotional and geographic in ways that both rehearse older practices of socio-spatial connectivity while simultaneously creating new social geographies. Particularly interesting is the way that these cartographies are often gendered in their deployment, with males and females using Jie Pang in different ways to map their socio-emotional practices onto everyday coordinates. While being informed by factors such as gender, age and class, geomedia such as Jie Pang also signal emergent types of connected presence and ambient intimacy. By overlaying the socio-emotional with the geographic and electronic, geomedia suggests new ways in which the urban is being narrated through micronarratives of the LBS.
Conclusion: The haptically-mobile in games
This discussion has explored the various ways in which urban mobile gaming has emerged as a dominant form of practice in rewriting the intersections between gaming, new media, play, and place. As shown, urban mobile games are re-imagining how the urban is conceptualized and experienced. With three genres – urban gaming (or big games), LBGM/ LAGM and hybrid realities – urban mobile gaming can help to relocate a sense of place that is missing in many video games. They offer a chance to transform an urban setting into a game space, demonstrating that urban spaces are inherently playful (de Souza e Silva and Hjorth 2009). This discussion was followed with a case study ofthe LBS, Jie Pang, in Shanghai to see how users are feeling about their relationship between memory, sociality and place. While in its infancy, these games will no doubt impact upon how the urban is narrated in the twenty-first century.
Far from eroding a sense of home and kinship ties, mobile technologies are reinforcing notions of locality and place. Indeed mobile, networked technologies under the rubric of mobile media not only transform how place is experienced in everyday life, they also highlight that place is more than just physical, geographic notion. In urban settings across the world, mobile technologies are reflecting local, situated and vernacular re-imaginings. Thus, despite the burgeoning of numerous forms of mobility – geographic, technological, socio-economic and physical – as part of global forces, mobile media are helping to facilitate the significance of place (Hjorth 2005). That is, place as a space that is not only geographic and physical, but evokes cartographies of the imaginary, emotional, mnemonic and psychological. As LBS and GPS become more pervasive in urban contexts, the way in which place is narrated, experienced and conceptualized will change. Through mobile games the possibilities and limits of what it means to be a phoneur can be learnt, which in turn re-imagines the place of urbanity.
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