New York – Experimental video games collective Babycastles has launched the debut art show at its new gallery space, focusing on the theme of the ‘lived Muslim experience’.
The show, Assalamualaikum Babycastles, continues the Babycastles mission of exploring under-represented voices in gaming. It features pieces that examine themes such as surveillance, war and classical art from the Islamic world.
Artist and programmer Ramsay Nasser previously created an Arabic-script programming language called ‘alb’, which means ‘heart’. For the Babycastles show, he used it to program a game of Pong. As the game progresses, players see the Arabic coding language that makes it function scrolling in the background, a reminder that much digital experience today is built on Western frameworks that are usually invisible.
Engare, a game by Iranian coder Mahdi Bahrami, invites players to explore the geometry of classical Islamic art by tracing lines through space using moving objects. Another installation explores ‘modder’ culture, in which gamers hack existing frameworks to better suit their preferences. It includes a version of Grand Theft Auto hacked to take place in Indonesia.
For more on the emergence of game design as an artistic practice, read our Game Imitates Art microtrend.