Alina Nazmeeva is a researcher, architect and artist investigating the relationships between cities and digital games, interfaces and publics, CGI and politics. Alina holds a Master of Science in Urbanism from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was a fellow of the New Normal programme at the Strelka Institute of Media, Architecture and Design (2017). Currently she is a research associate at the future urban collectives lab at MIT where she works on designing spaces and platforms or new forms of collectivity, and a research analyst at the MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab where she focuses her research on understanding the economy and design of virtual worlds and online games. Her writing has been published in PLAT, Media-N and CARTHA Magazine.

Collective Virtual

A game for emerging social space
work-in-progress; demo is available upon request

The rhetoric of ephemerality has become an essential part of the internet imaginary, and online spaces are colloquially claimed to traverse boundaries that exist in physical social space. Here, the infinite market expansion has been virtually equated to individual freedom.

Grounded in the logic of territorial control and self-governance, online digital games have become the most pervasive social spaces of contemporary world. Virtual worlds are the Great New World. Being social spaces, online games became powerful rhetorical devices.

Combining urban design, planning and game design theories, this cooperative/competitive game questions the logic of production of digital space.

Collective Virtual is based on the shared ownership and constantly shifting governance. As the players share the space and inhabit collective body with others, the perceived finitude and discrete state of individual subject is undermined. Virtual geography emerges through conflict and negotiation, the space shrinks and expands due to the actions of the players. Shared spaces, if supersede the individually owned parcels produce the alternative narrative structures, open new decision trees, rules, and ways to design. 

Through the series of playtests across different media, I have been modifying, testing and experimenting with the framework and the game play while working on its web-based version. At the current development state, it is a cooperative worldbuilding game for 6-10 players. Players have to collaborate and compete in order to design a “city”, in which they have to make meaningful connections between different neighborhoods, properties and areas. This “stitching”between the land, ‘grabbed’ by the players forces them to collectively negotiate the areas of ‘cross-hatches’ of collectively owned and governed space.