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States of Play: Roleplay Reality


This interactive exhibition considers how roleplay - found in many video games - can be used as tactic to reflect, contest and move beyond real-world power structures. No longer to be understood merely as a place of escape, the game realm and the ‘real world’ have collided.

Part of the Spring 2018 season

As changes in technology enable a broader range of people to make games, the limitations of commercially driven high-budget titles have been accentuated. Gamergate, a volatile scandal which exposed deep-rooted sexism in the industry, showed not only that the physical and virtual are inseparable, but also exposed the radically differing views that make up today’s game culture.

Combat games are heavily associated with violence and toxicity, but with a peak of over three million concurrent players, we should ask ourselves to what extent does a virtual world provide a platform for real connection?

Corridor 8

This constantly shifting landscape is set against a wider backdrop of global uncertainty: the rise of right-wing extremism; the contesting of traditionally predominant narratives by previously marginalised voices; as well as an ever-increasing convergence between the physical and virtual, fact and fiction.

Within this context, States of Play: Roleplay Reality brings together artworks and industry games to explore how the roles we play expose our true realities: with all of our contradictory motivations, biases and assumptions. The result of this can be joyous and disturbing, freeing or subjugating, but now - more than ever - it is impossible to separate our physical identities with the roles that we take up in virtual space.

The most emotionally effecting exhibition I’ve seen. From start to finish it is immersive, uncomfortable, upsetting, relatable, relaxing and terrifying.

Art in Liverpool

States of Play: Roleplay Reality is curated by Lucy Sollitt and Lesley Taker.

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