Evoking Sonder Through MBTA Pacman

by general

The theme of this challenge was evoking awe through games. We drew inspiration from the concept of sonder, “the realization that a passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own”. ________________ While technology and interactivity facilitate connections, they also cause us to disengage with the real world. To see this phenomenon, look no further than the Harvard Square T station — commuters stare down at their phones to avoid awkward eye contact with those around them. We developed MBTA: Pac Edition to invoke the awe of sonder through interacting with strangers at a T station.  We stuck to a principle of simplicity and nostalgia and re-imagined PacMan as a public installation. The gameboard is displayed on the digital advertising screens in the station with a join code. Passersby sign in to the join code from their phones, choose a pacperson  and are greeted with a simple controller. They control their pacperson from their phone while the advertising screen displays the game.  Players explore the maze with those in the same stop, accumulating points as a team for the station.  The public display of the game means anyone can see who is playing and what is happening, sparking that simple moment of seeing and engaging with others around you. Looking into the future, we want to integrate more personalization into the gameplay — perhaps users can input fun facts or items of clothing they’re wearing, emphasizing the idea that everyone has a story. Look up — perhaps you’ll even see it in a train stop one day. ________________ Try it yourself! Open the game here on your computer, and then open the controller on your phone here.

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