Viscous Fairy Grottoes: Arcades Project is an alternate reality gameworld with artists as gamemasters, where ludic infrastructures (dys)function as platform for gamic actions. Distending notions of the game, it runs on indeterminate goals, poor graphics, and bad gameplay, where objects glitch through walls or players use cheatcodes to progress; a lascivious intermix of pirate acts, queered avatar creation, multiplayer countervisualities, and invocations of dream-seeing worlds. Extending across online slimescapes and physical extrusions at soft/WALL/studs, Arcades envisions gaming as method of organising: As playable nationalisms proliferate, instances of resistance refract through gameful worldbuilding across online spheres, alongside recent pivots toward simulation gaming for community and comfort under pandemic time.
Taking facetiously from Walter Benjamin’s unfinished magnum opus, The Arcades Project, this gameworld corrupts Benjamin’s readings of the 19th century shopping arcade as site of capitalist modernity for Europe, described as “fairy grottoes” radiating across Paris. Instead, interest lies in the site of the video game arcade, sprouting across East and Southeast Asia from the 1970s and 80s. With gaming arcades banned in Singapore from 1983 until the early 90s as a corruptive influence and symbol of Western decadence, the video game serves as a surface of discursive tension, an active mechanism, a corrupted save file lying in wait. Arcades burrows through rabbit holes, opening up glitchy fairy portals to broken, oozing worlds.
With artist-gamemasters Chong Lii and Niklas Buschër, Denise Yap, Gigi Koh and Aneesha Shetty, Johann Yamin, and Shawn Chua.