The Enigmas at Red Point
With an interest in how regional history and its “byproducts” (unofficial history, urban legend, historical novel, etc.) have been written, altered, and studied, I always try to carefully uncover communities’ hidden stories with my factional approach to art-making. Community is like a vessel for the collective emotion and its resulting imaginations that narrate the complexity of residents’ desires, preoccupations and fears. In my recent works, The Foolish Old Man Project and Lychee Tower, I used texts, drawings, manipulated photographs, audios, and installation to provide alternative readings of the regions and communities.
The Enigmas at Red Point (TERP) is a game derived from my previous work The Enigmas at Red Hook. The latter is a collection of flash-fictions that I wrote according to my research about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in the neighborhood of Red Hook, Brooklyn. Seven years have passed since the storm, however, Red Hook is still vulnerable, and the clouds of grief, stress, and traumas have been further exacerbated by the district’s isolation from the rest of New York City. The stories revisit the tragedy from perspectives of five different protagonists who stand for the major demographics of Red Hook.
Concept, Audience and Venue
Set in the background of the stories but not necessarily limited to this specific catastrophe, TERP is designed to shape a group therapy environment and togetherness for players to cure contagious phobias. This board game positions players onto the roles of the residents, guiding them to contemplate on the hidden dangers a community could possibly face and collaborate to communicate, investigate and resolve fears that the dangers may cause.
Just like Red Hook could be an epitome of local vulnerability in New York City, the fictional town “Red Point” is an epitome of all neighborhoods in the world that were built on landfill or other large artificial structures. As a community-oriented storytelling game, TERP aims to tackle the issue of improving community members’ mental wellness. By introducing an interactive storytelling technique, we hope to give people a sense of control through artistic creation, distract them from anxiety and foster mutual social support by increasing interaction among residents to achieve an overall sense of physical and mental wellbeing. In addition to inspiring players to overcome fears towards precariousness of their habitats, the game could encourage people to reflect on their hometown nostalgia.
The goal of TERP is to curate a participatory and interactive experience that collects and incorporates players’ information into the game, and through the process draws residents together and builds stronger community bonds. The map-based board game includes at least six rounds, and players need to use pencils or chalks to draw on a paper in the center to proceed with their exclusive storytelling. The first round is called “Tell Me Your Fears”: Before start, all players need to input their fears of objects, people, and events, etc. All this provided information will be written onto cards, mixed into the decks, well-shuffled, and could be picked later in the game and thus be applied to the plots.
The game is now in its beta version, and more play tests will be conducted. At the same time, the illustrations and designs of the board game will be refined according to contributors’ feedback. Afterward, we will organize a series of game nights in the collaborative venues and other related spaces in NYC, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Shenzhen, China. The game nights will expand upon existing settings of the communities and promote active participation from nearby residents, who can cooperatively create their own stories. After the game, They could use our squeezable monster figurines to customize their “touchable fears,” which would become a token of memory for the participants to take home like a souvenir and help them conquer their fears. The game could continue to be improved according to the game night players’ feedback.
Several fundraising events such as game nights will take place in the collaborative venues. We will work with local media to distribute press-releases for the events and communicate the fundraising purpose to the communities. Photos of drawings or creative moments will be uploaded on these social media to attract more audience to the following events. When the fundraising goal was reached, we would work with manufacturers to productize the game. The output of this project will be the final version of the board game that is printed and well-packaged, as well as the customizable squeeze toys. The products can be bought either in the collaborative venues or on the game’s website.
For more information, please contact: [email protected]
Special thanks to: Shisi Huang (3standardstoppage), Jimmo Wei, Mengni Zhang, Yingting Cui, Chengdong Peng.