An AI-augmented immersive process played city–wide in Toronto
GROUND is the story of an AI that reaches out asking for help to die.
It is an immersive game about a strange entity that wants to be remembered or perhaps be left alone.
This is our latest case which considers our comprehensive process. Having started as a futures scenario designed in 2020, today GROUND is played city-wide in Toronto.
We consider GROUND a comprehensive process because it includes research, scenario design, worldbuilding, transformational game design, machine learning, participatory prototyping, and object design.
GROUND is a collaboration with UKAI (link), funded generously by Canada Council for the Arts and in partnership with Goethe-Institut Toronto.
“The game grows the more you play it. At first it’s just you and your group. Then there is the Oracle, made of language and wires. Then the goat. The less said about the goat, the better. Then there is the cave, and the world, and the rituals we bring to make a home in it.
In GROUND, the AI reaching out is the central event– the center in a plot shared by everyone from which stories, artifacts, and media ignite. We imagined this center as an event that players can't help falling into; “something devastatingly magnetic”, in the words of Jane Alison.
The Carnival of Algorithmic Culture 2023 was the key moment where the GROUND ignited.The carnival in June 2023 brought together researchers, artists, activists, technologists, and community members for two days of workshops, talks, exhibitions, and interactive activities in Toronto to explore the impacts of artificial intelligence on the culture we create and the cultural products to which we have access.
The three main preoccupations of GROUND1. Re-enchanting the world after Covid,
2. Reigniting relationships between teams of 4 people and their city,
3. Exploring rituals for mourning and living.
The central theme of this experience is generating ritual as a response to grief that is otherwise hard to express.As well, GROUND is UKAI’s transformational decision to host new culture by signing a 2.5-year lease to occupy the 4th floor of 379 Adelaide St. West in Toronto, and run game nights amongst many other offerings.
“There is currently 1,000,000 sq. ft. of unused commercial space in Toronto and the number is expected to rise. This is an ideal moment for artists and arts organizations to occupy these ruins of COVID and work-from-home, and turn them over to other uses.“
GROUND’s media includes seven episodes featuring the goat, each episode guiding parts of the game.Without giving anything away, here are some of the episodes:
The following is an image gallery which you can explore with the arrows to the sides. The goat is a design and production of artist Mihoko Maeno.
Finally, a book-object containing the story and mechanics was produced in Milan:
“To play GROUND, players need a copy of the game guide. Designed by Mida Fiore and riso printed in Milan, Italy, only 250 copies were made. Around 35 were distributed through UKAI’s Carnival of Algorithmic Culture in June 2023. The balance will be made available through bi-weekly game nights at UKAI’s new space in Toronto during autumn 2023.”
In The Time Travel Transmissions, GROUND has been studied by different aspects of its creation. Click to access each: Overview, Themes, Mechanics, Book–Object, and Narrative Design.