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The Balkan Mall videogame

Recognizing that the video game has become a significant form of representation, the predominance of American perspectives in the conceptual space of these games becomes problematic. Personal Cinema proposed that artists respond creatively, by designing a video game that includes the complexity of real geopolitical, ethnic, and economic relations. The project addresses itself to the specific knowledge, abilities, resources, and creative practices of the participating artists, in order to re-imagine a future in which the people of the Balkans are something more than victims of history. It offers space for dialogue based on history and on personal experiences. It is an opportunity to articulate new narratives that resonate with the memories and experiences of the artists, many of whom have faced first-hand the contradictions of the dominant media representations.

This project uses the formal characteristics of the epic adventure video game to critique the real historical game that transpires on the plane of geopolitics and everyday life. Participating artists were called on to provide alternative representations of Balkan history and identity, to depict the reality of the Balkan Wars from a Eurasian perspective.

Artists were encouraged to use humour, parody, detournement, and irreverence to bring to light themes related to The Making of Balkan Wars: the Game. Submissions were photos and photo-montage, illustrations, character sketches, scenarios, sound-track music, story-boards, dioramas, sound effects, videos, and essays.

As a result of the numbered contributions, the Balkan Mall video game counteracts the sensational spectacle of war presented by the media by deconstructing stereotypes, focusing on the distortion of identities, and revising the dominant logic of explanation. In its actual form, it is a multi-user, 3D video game which hosts about 40 videos and documentaries, sounds, images and texts contributed by more than 50 participant artists from 16 countries, who look into the Balkan territory and way of life. Twenty different spaces shape an imaginary shopping mall, which is actually an elevation of the social, historical and cultural elements of the Balkans. The players are asked to form their own avatars that refer to Balkan characters, interact and talk with each other.

Moving within the space the players discover that their behaviour define their degree of participation in this simulated Balkan reality. They realise that the game play is based on the variable of Balkanisation and De-balkanisation and keeping the balance is what they are asked to do in order to go on.

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Page last modified on October 10, 2005, at 02:15 PM