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Lesberation

Leah Gilliam

LESBERATION is a board game that celebrates the hectic beginnings of the gay rights movement using strategic tile placement, cathartic territory capture and a candy-colored palette.

http://www.lesberation.com



LESBERATION is a board game inspired by the gay liberation movements of the 1960s and '70s, it uses the gutsy, anti-authoritarian energy of these movements as a map for a game that explores rule-breaking, choice and social interaction.

Games situate players in one “real” space while giving them license and liberty to interact in another. As systems that operate within a separate and imagined space of possibility, games offer a unique opportunity to explore a wide range of immersive and participatory experiences. The game LESBERATION and the accompanying research considers ways in which certain characteristics of radical political movements—strategizing, anti-authoritarianism, setbacks, hard-won victories conflict/collaboration and cathartic release—might inform and structure the design and experience of a game. While the histories of radical political movements are far from game-like, I was eager to explore how some of their energy and emotion might translate into game play.

Lesberation takes place on the night of the historic events at the Stonewall Inn that sparked the gay-rights movement. Game play begins inside the bar and players are charged with making their way through the city, capturing—or “lesberating”—as many locations as possible before the night is over. As the timer ticks away, players place brightly colored acrylic tiles down, simultaneously building the game board and their route around a fictionalized New York City. As tile placement reveals various key strategic locations, players “lesberate” these locations by articulating their liberation scenarios. As players create their own lesberation narratives, they spin history, imagining a world in which history’s firebrands can win.



Background
BOOKS and PERIODICALS

1. Bould, Mark. “Come Alive by Saying No: An Introduction to Black Power SF, SF Studies. 34, Part 2 (July 2007): 220-240
2. Duberman, Martin. Stonewall: (New York: Penguin Books: 1993)
3. Garner, Phillipe. Sixties Design. Köln, Germany: Taschen, 2003.
6. Gonzalo, Fresca. “Ephemeral Games: Is it Barbaric to design video games after Auschwitz?” Cybertext Yearbook 2000, Eskelinen, Markku and Raine Koskimaa, eds. University of Jyväskylä: 2002.
7. Halter, Ed. From Sun Tzu to Xbox: War and Video Games. New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2006.
8. Humphreys, Laud. Out of the Closets: The Sociology of Homosexual Liberation. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall: 1972.
9. Johnston, Jill. Admission Accomplished: The Lesbian Nation Years (1970-75). London: Serpent’s Tail Books: 1998.
10. Jesper Juul. “The Game, the Player, the World: Looking for a Heart of Gameness,” Level Up: Digital Games Research Conference Proceedings, Utrecht: Utrecht University, 2003
11. Kramer, Wolfgang. “What Makes a Game Good?” The Games Journal. (July 2000). http://www.thegamesjournal.com/articles/WhatMakesaGame.shtml.
12. Lantz, Frank. “Big Games and the Porous Border between the Real and the Mediated.” receiver #16 (August 2006) http://www.vodafone.com/flash/receiver/16/articles/index07.html 16 April 2008.
13. Marantz Henig, Robin. “Taking Play Seriously,” New York Times Magazine, 17 February 2008, 40-45, 60, 75.
14. Celia Pearce. "Beyond Shoot Your Friends: A call to arms in the battle against violence," in Digital Illusion: Entertaining the Future with High Technology. New York: ACM Press, 1998.
17. Salen, Katie and Eric Zimmerman. Rules of Play. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2004.

FILMS
1. Before Stonewall: The Making of a Gay and Lesbian Community. Dir. John Scagliotti and Greta Schiller. Perfs. Rita Mae Brown, Ann Banon, Audre Lorde. Before Stonewall Inc., 1984.
2. Born in Flames, Dir. Lizzie Borden. Perf. Adele Bertei, Honey, Ron Vawter. Production Company,1983.
3. Gay Sex in the 70s. Dir. Joseph F. Lovett. Perf. Robert Alvarez, Larry Kramer. Lovett Productions, 2005.
4. The Warriors. Dir. Walter Hill. Perf. John Remar, Lynne Thigpen, Dorsey Wright, 1979.
5. Town Bloody Hall. Dirs. D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus. Perf. Germaine Greer, Jill Johnston, Norman Mailer, Diana Trilling. Pennebaker Hegedus Films, 1979.

GAMES
1. C’est La Vie: The Lesbian Game of Life. Designer: Joanne Hartmeyer. Play on Words, 1995.
2. Arcade Reality: Augmented Reality Game. Designer: Szymon Ulatowski. Toyspring, Inc., 2007
3. Fluxx. Designers: Andrew Looney and Kristin Looney. Looney Labs 1997.
4. Game of Life-40th Anniversary Edition. Designer: Milton Bradley. Hasbro, 1999.
5. Ingenious, Designer: Reiner Knizia, Fantasy Flight Games, Sophisticated Games 2004.
Mark Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure. Developer: The Collective inc. Perf. Talib Kweli, Atari, 2006.
6. Risk. Designer: Albert Lamorisse and Michael I. Levin. Parker Bros., 1999.
7. State of Emergency. Developer. VIS Entertainment ltd. Perf. D-Story, Jean Grae. Rockstar Games, 2002.
8. Waterworks: The Leaky Pipe Game, Unnamed Designer. Hasbro inc., 2005.
9. Zombie Fluxx. Designer. Andrew Looney. Looney Labs, 2007.