We spent the day at Waree’s mother’s village and didn’t eat Changchun Vacations the armadillo. It was being kept for the feast of Ho-ba-jie. Changchun Vacations Waree and I gathered mushrooms which grow on the higher land. We collected various types with yellow gills and green domes and fat, dumpy, ballshaped ones with brittle shells. The following evening, back in Shilin, I watched a dancing display which opened with some young women being called out into the open by young men and musicians. Each girl carried a bamboo pole with loose rattling studs on it, which hit the ground as they danced, accompanied by men playing flutes.
The notion of mobility as a technology, cultural practice, geography and metaphor impacts on how twenty-first-century cartographies of the urban play out. Through the trope of mobility and immobility, rather than overcoming all difference and distance, the significance of local is reinforced. While nineteenth-century narrations of the urban were symbolized by the visual economics of the flaneur, the twenty-first-century wanderer of the informational city has been rendered by what Robert Luke calls the phoneur (2006). The conceptual distance and continuum between the flaneur and the phoneur is marked by the paradigmatic shift of the urban from being a geospatial image of and for the bourgeoisie; as opposed to the phoneur, which sees the city transformed into an informational circuit in which the person is just a node with little agency. Beyond dystopian narrations about the role of technology in maintaining a sense of intimacy, community and place, one can find various ways in which the tenacity of the local retains control over the technology. In particular, through the intersection between mobile media and games, it is evident that the local and the urban can be re-imagined in new ways.
A decade on from the mobility’ turn in the humanities (Urry 2002), the conundrums facing mobility and immobility and the impact upon a sense of place and belonging persist. Far from mobile and social media eroding a sense of place and locality, the reverse has happened. The upsurge of enclaves and boundary-making has intensified (Turner 2007). New media has not afforded geography with an ability to transgress spatial and temporal boundaries globally; instead, it amplifies difference and distance. Unlike the Benedict Anderson notion of imagined communities (1983), in which the rise of print media informs the boundary of the nation-state and the decline of the local dialect, mobile and social media crave the situated and vernacular in their re-imaginings of place. Through social and mobile media imaging’ practices, users perpetually create and redefine a sense of community and place – in short, imaging communities’ (Hjorth 2009). In the re-imaginings of the city globally we see that place, as a notion that is geographic and physical as it is emotional and psychological, is being sketched increasingly through a diversity of ways that impact upon how art and cultural practice is conceptualized.
This chapter reflects upon the paradox of urban mobility – locating the mobile – through the role of mobile urban gaming. As a genre that has taken various forms and draws from numerous histories such as interactive fiction, hybrid reality and live action role playing
(LARP), mobile gaming creates the potentiality of play as an art form that transforms urban spaces into play places (de Souza e Silva and Hjorth 2009). By traversing online and offline spaces simultaneously through haptic screens, the possibilities for mobile gaming to inform new ways of experiencing place physically, technologically, emotionally and psychologically is endless. Mobile games reinforce the importance of place in producing particular cultural knowledge. They also highlight the significance of co-presence – online and offline, here and there, virtual and actual – in informing tacit and intimate knowledge in the overlaying of community onto place.