Across Australia, thousands of computer gamers are packing up flashy keyboards and padding their modified drives to gather at temporary LAN parties in musty halls and defunct scout dens.
Wheeling in slabs of warm energy drinks cradled by fatigued floral pillows and thrust into swivel chairs, they plug into the high speed Local Area Network to play their favourite games in physical proximity to their virtual opponents.
This moment in which reality and fantasy collide is a messy one.
The gaming can go on for hours or days. Most stay the whole weekend, bolstered by energy drinks and camaraderie. Shanty sleeping quarters are established on the peripheries. Some simply slide into sleeping bags underfoot, amidst the snaking cables and debris of perfunctory sustenance.
As I observed, I considered my own affections for and assumptions about play. Documentary photography has had a long history concerning the taxonomy of play within the domain of our culture. Videogames are a modern part of this tradition, yet are distinguished by their special blend of interactivity which has increased technical dependence to a peculiar point of symbiosis, forming an ambiguous yet compelling relationship between what is virtual and what is real.
Behind The Scenes with nicole marie
Hi, Nicole here. This is a little behind the scenes info on this project, to provide some context for you to enjoy the imagery more closely.
Real Play is a long form documentary project I created essentially exploring the relationship between the formality and power of technology and the fragility of youth. This contrast and vulnerability is seen through various visual motifs such as the floral pillows that these young men had brought along from their homes.
It also makes a comment on a very significant generational shift in how we socialise. At one of these 48 hour LAN parties, it was held at a community hall and there were two rooms side-by-side and in one room was this LAN party; computer gaming non-stop for 48 hours. And just next to that in the next room was a very traditional ballroom dancing get together of people from a very different generation. And I walked from one room to the other and that was so interesting to sort of move between those contrasts and those communities.
But really, it all still comes back to community and connection. The thing that really stood out to me when I was doing this project was that with this gaming world, it could all essentially be done online. But the main point was that these people chose to be present with each other physically in the same space that they still needed and valued that connection in a physical sense. I love when people fully immerse themselves in something that they love, so I could really relate to this community because I feel that same way about photography.
Thanks for taking the time to listen in today. If you’d like to chat about your upcoming projects with me, please call me or email me through my contact page. Love to hear from you.
Nicole Marie Photography