Newswise — In its latest online rollout, Ithaca College’s Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF) 2009–2010 invites everyone, everywhere to raise the dead, bring fantasy creatures to life, and join alternative reality gamers in collectively exploring “Open Space,” the theme of this year’s festival.
“Each month on the Open Game website, we’ll provide a street-view Google Map, a little window into our modern world,” said Ulises Mejias, assistant professor in the communications studies department at SUNY Oswego and designer of the Open Space game. “Then we ask our two rival teams of dead or imaginary characters—which includes media theorist Marshall McLuhan, Joan of Arc, and the mythical bird Jingwei—to explore the myriad forms and meanings of opening not just physical space but conceptual and political space as well. Waging a discursive battle, or a high-brow flame war if you will, the players create a dialog among the rival characters.”
To play the game, go to http://openspace.ulisesmejias.com, follow the instructions, log in as one of the characters, and make a post. “Let yourself be possessed by the owner of the account,” Mejias said. “Participants can shape the actions of the characters and the outcome of the story.”
Joining Joan of Arc, McLuhan and Jingwei on the Nodocentric Defenders team are urban theorist Jane Jacobs and 12th-century philosopher and scientist Ibn Rushd (Averroes). Their opponents, the Paranodal Liberators, are revolutionary Commander Ramona, psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, German novelist Thomas Mann, Ghana folk tale trickster Anansi, and Lysistrata, the heroine of Aristophanes’s play who rallied Greek women to withhold sex from their husbands until they ended the Peloponnesian War.
Though not a judged competition, a referee will recap the discourse of the rival teams every month and offer observations. Anjali Nerlekar, assistant professor of English and author of FLEFF blog “South Asian Spaces,” will be the first referee.
“There are no rules or guidelines,” Mejias said. “The referee’s input is simply an opportunity for a member of the FLEFF community to periodically reflect on the discussions.”
In addition to designing alternative reality games, Mejias teaches classes on social networks and the web, videogame theory and analysis, technoculture studies and media economics. His research interests include network studies, critical theory, philosophy of technology and political economy of new media. He holds an Ed.D. from Columbia University and M.S. and B.F.A. degrees from Ithaca College.
“In past years, FLEFF has been a weeklong offering of events in late March and early April,” said Patricia Zimmermann, co-curator of FLEFF, along with Tom Shevory. “This year, though, we are offering FLEFF as a succession of online, user-generated events under one program stream, ‘Open Spaces.’ In addition to our 17 international blogs written by our extraordinary writers, we have open-commentary sections, user-generated contests and exhibitions, screenings at Cinemapolis with community forums, residencies on campus of high profile artists and writers, and a new Open Space Lab for students. This year, people don’t just watch FLEFF. They engage with it.”
For more information and to participate, visit www.ithaca.edu/fleff.Launched in 1997, FLEFF is currently housed in the college’s Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies.