In Bangkok I was fortunate to find the Iron Bridge market, probably the most cyberpunk place I’ve ever been. Build over a canal, stretching a city block this metal structure is cramped with small toy and game stores and tiny electronics workshops. Many of them cramped with the tools and parts needed for game console hacking and repair.
Techtravels was conceived a few years ago on Java, Indonesia when I passed this storefront that had been converted into a makeshift arcade — a bare room with plastic rugs, mismatched TV’s and some hacked Playstations. Kids from the neighborhood, who can’t afford their own console come here to play the most popular games.These spaces are more laid back than a conventional arcade and offer a better platform for social interaction than playing computer-games at home as is the norm in more affluent cultures.
Having grown up with just a handful of cartridges available for my Atari 2600, I spend a lot of time hanging out at different spots in the neighborhood, kicking a ball around or playing some other outdoor game with other kids. Nowadays, with limitless supply of digital entertainment available, first world kids never need to go out and meet their neighbors. Here in Indonesia I witnessed how gamers could not only indulge their passion but at the same time escape home and parents and develop their social skill. Its clear that playing games with a bunch of peers is also much more fun than playing at home.
It’s fascinating how this ‘hack of context’ actually adds value. Under economic pressure, technology is applied in an unintended way that turns out to offer improvements over the originally designed experience.