Demand Player Sovereignty at SubZERO

On June 3, 2011 Demand Player Sovereignty hosted a real-world field station at the 4th Annual SubZERO Festival. SubZERO is a yearly street fair in downtown San Jose that focuses on emerging and present subcultures in the silicon valley/bay area. Specifically those with a homebrew, mashup, and techno-art bent. Our field agents operated as quest givers during the festival, both on the ground and in the World of Warcraft.

The business on the other side of the curtain went fine. Being a quest giver was boring, as would be expected, but playing dynamically and helping players complete the quest made it slightly more interesting. Protip for player quest givers: don’t play like an NPC. - Marek Kapolka
The quests were DIY alternatives to those mind-numbing hack and slash adventures in tedium normally found in-game and acted as a reaction to the standard kill x number for blank enemy. The real world quest was to make a new friend. The participant had to place a Third Faction sticker on a new found friend, then either take a picture with them or bring them back to the field station. The virtual quest was to help wow players on opposing sides of the in-game war become friends. This was facilitated by a software addon developed in house. This addon mimicked the games natural mechanics and interface. Thus allowing a member of DPS to seamlessly usurp the role of an in-game quest giver. Completing these alternative quest lines allowed ‘players’ to gain reputation with DPS. If both quests were completed the participant was awarded a Third Faction badge designed and created specifically for this event.

DPS was successful in its goal or raising awareness about fabricated conflicts, virtual and otherwise, as well as, the need for governmental transparency. However, reactions to the event were mixed and this foray into real life intervention acted as a learning experience for us as well.

Third Faction CrewMichael Amundsen and the local presslearning the ropesflyers and badgesJenene gives out real life quests
Even within the gaming community, WoW is a polarizing game. It is subject to many stereotypes- fat nerds poopsocking for days, trycares getting buttmad about losing their e-swag, the horrible, horrible barrens chat, the manipulative pavlovian mechanics (wowcrack). Just about everyone has played it (or knows someone who has), and just about everyone has quit. So not only was the number of people who knew about the game limited, but half of those who did were very quick to dismiss the project on sight, simply because of the game in which it took place.
- Marek Kapolka
Personally I wanted to see how the public would respond to a piece that was both in game and in real life. Overall I think people responded well to it, but only if it was explained to them. Otherwise people seemed to see the monitors showing a “video game” and just on passed by without a second glance. However, when people began talking to us they became more intrigued with the project, but many were still reluctant to participate in game because of the interface barrier. We did receive positive feedback from those who did talk with us. - Jenene Castle
Field Agents:
Michael Amundsen, Jenene Castle, Sara Gevurtz, Marek Kapolka, Ali Sajjadi, Liz Solo, Thomas Asmuth

Custom Addon Programming and Development:
Marek Kapolka

Additional Camera Work:
Kyungwha Lee