>REINCANTAMENTO - Open source and work-in-progress meditation on magic and technology


✦ Open source and work-in-progress meditation on magic, society and technology

Tech Collapse: The Game

Tech Collapse - The Game, is a board game experiment created on the occasion of the 48h Neukölln 2023, exploring the limits of computation, e-waste and green technologies. The game is an artifact that crystalizes years of research and revolves around the idea of play as an “action that can unfold in freedom or as a playful, social action with strategy, self-discovery, and the abundance of tasks towards our fellow human beings”. We like to borrow the term Artplay from the philosopher Milan Marković to define our project’s spirit. Artplay adopts “a range of game features for the sole aim of producing art”. Plus, we want to convey artistic research to a larger audience and in a different format.

Artistic direction by Giorgio Craparo

At first, Tech Collapse was the title of an article Alessandro wrote in 2021 for KABUL, where he explored the material limits of digital society, the possibility of a technical infrastructure collapse, and sustainable alternative practices. The article also inspired a talk for the IAM Festival that same year. In 2022, Alessandro continued his research on these topics, gathering sources and inspirations on the knowledge curation platform are.na.

Meanwhile, Anna has been researching the data infrastructure used for implementing pandemic measures. She focused on the risks to privacy and data protection that emerged from the rapid digitalization of daily practices, especially when considering factors like the digital divide, lack of digital literacy, and disparities in power distribution. From there, Anna particularly delved into the urgent issue of microchip production in Taiwan.

From this communion of interests, we decided to present our research in an alternative format for the 48h Festival. We focus on highlighting the contradictions, environmental and human exploitation, and capitalist excess beyond our digital devices. Specifically, three cores compose our research constellation:

  • - E-waste and tech materiality:This track explores the lifecycle of devices, from mineral extraction to supply chain issues, distribution and circulation, and finally to disposal and the afterlife.

  • - Limits of computation: In this, we critically examine the "cornucopian mentality" which is typical in computer science. We propose an opposing view that acknowledges various limits to computation, from the materiality of chips and energy constraints to the broader context of the climate crisis.

  • - Alternative and sustainable practices: The 3rd track explores a range of alternative practices including low-tech, solar protocols, tiny and autonomous servers, slow Internet, critical reparations and more.

Tech Collapse is set in a fictional scenario two hundred years in the future. Society has crumbled, and the digital infrastructure has been disrupted and forgotten. Players, organized into teams, take on the roles of scavengers hunting for the lost knowledge of the Internet.

While they try to patch together the different techniques and concepts from the past, two paths open up: the Adaptionist (green cards), which describes sustainable practices with a low-tech approach, and the Extractivist (red cards), which is about unsustainable practices, that employ an extractive approach that harms the environment in various ways. The different teams explore a building - the board - and collect cards - the knowledge - reaching a different vision of the past, and consequently, of the future.

The card template presents a challenge in writing captions that are both brief and impactful. Nevertheless, the various cards need to convey technical research or academic papers. How can we avoid appearing overly instructional? We believe we've struck a good balance by employing sarcastic rhetoric to add a light and engaging tone. This type of language can help prevent the content from feeling too verbose or overwhelming, making it more accessible to players.

Tech Collapse 1.0 version was presented last June at the 48h Neukolln. We were very happy to present it to Berlin’s public and we were moved by the interests of the people. After this first iteration, we like to open source our game design process, engage with new people, and expand the project. We created a Telegram group to organize a small community and elaborate together different ideas and reflections. We’re looking for illustrators, writers, game designers, board game nerds, green computation researchers, and generally curious individuals. Specifically, we want to focus on the following points:

    • Cards Expansion
      We will introduce new cards in both decks and create a deck for hazards spaces. We will improve and refine the existing cards. This means expanding  the theoretical research and refining the game design mechanisms.

  • Multimodality
    We want to expand the game’s experience with other media, creating an ad-hoc sound experience and visuals to enhance the immersivity. Specifically, we plan to produce a zine to expand the fictional universe of the game.

    • Game Production
      We want to have a proper game box, and a game manual and improve the game board.

        • Happenings
      • We would like to organize happenings in Berlin centered around our game, involving other artists, collectives and researchers to summon playful gatherings around these topics: i.e. conversations, game sessions, workshops etc;