Todd Margolis

Local ARt

In collaboration with Tracy Cornish

Local ARt is a mobile Augmented Reality Alternate Reality Game developed in San Diego in 2011. The primary aim was to create a novel way of connecting two artist run galleries with a series of art walks and community cultural events; and playfully explore the relationship between public and private domains. Replayabilty, minimal design resources, social media integration, neighborhood exploration, and the development/use of mobile augmented reality software were key considerations in the game design and implementation.

Local ARt links a fictitous story to real world places and objects while maintaining an aesthetic of "This Is Not A Game". Two adversarial groups each with backstories and social media presence were developed to facilitate the storyline and provide the stage for future acts to play out. Facebook pages and posts from non-player characters quickly garnered the interest of members of the real world community who, not aware of the game, found a forum for sharing their thoughts and concerns. For example, the North Park Citizens Against Vandalism page received this post:

I have been walking the streets of North Park for years taking down posters and stickers. I am pleased to see that others have the same desire to keep North Park clean and attractive.

Facebook pages, posters/flyers/stickers and QR codes also function as rabbit holes into the game which plays out in the Layar augmented reality browser. Through Layar the narrative is embedded into the streets, existing businesses and under explored public spaces of the neighborhood. Concepts of subterranean activity, conspiracy, and surveillance are employed to drive the narrative while players are asked to follow and respond to clues embedded in the physical and virtual environments. Exploring the streetscape becomes a key component in both seeking and solving clues in the game.

Clues are presented as audio files, images, text files, street art and public signage which make use of Layar features such as geo-located proximity triggers, email auto-responders and mailing lists.

The second act of Local ARt is currently being developed which will make use of the augmented streetscape as an alternate gallery environment. In this game, players will discover geo-located artwork as more information is revealed about tensions between the non-player characters.

Local ARt


Linked Media


North Park Citizens Against Vandalism


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