What if the restrictions that take place in virtual game play existed in physical game play? This weekend I held a poker tournament. This was not a normal poker tournament. The rules, based off of the popular iPad app, “Pokerist,” implemented modern censorship techniques used in virtual worlds as a restriction in conversation and augmentation in game play. The hope from this experiment was to do a sort of “people-knowing” test that would highlight the complexities of self expression in virtual worlds and raise questions on the validity of certain forms of censorship in these realms.
The players were presented with the above gifts as well as the set of rules below, on the Joker card. As the rules below state, the players were not allowed to speak during the course of the game. Doing so would result in expulsion from the table (and a bit of lost poker money).
In order to speak to the table, the participants had to send a text message to the moderator (me). I would then go through the same process in real time as the Internet Chat Relay System, selectively censoring what I please. To speak to individuals, participants were asked to exchange gifts that were placed under each player’s chair. To clarify – none of these players were familiarized with any other information before hand, and none had ever played the Pokerist app, thus the act of gift giving was an entirely new restriction on the game of poker for these players.
The experiment resulted in the above image (click image for full size please) which serves as a still shot into the game play that took place, providing a mixed reality (pokerist iPad app meets the physical world) that explores censorship as a method for creative writing restriction. From this experiment I have concluded that adding a separation from the one-on-one communication methods we use in our daily lives actually give the players a similar “confidence” in their acts of insult. This experiment works on the threshold of fantasy and reality in order to explore the potential connections between the two worlds, and author critical media around the discourse of censorship and it’s validity.