A videogame in the real world

Matera is a magnificent city for tourists; the “Sassi” (Italian for “stones”) are UNESCO cultural heritage sites and, for those who visit the city for the first time, are a mystical experience. It is as if you step inside a life-size crib.
What most tourists or visitors do not know is that the city is divided by a deep scar. For many local inhabitants, particularly the older generations, the Sassi – ancient part of the city – have always been a place to be avoided, a national disgrace. To quote what the prime minister said, the deportation of the Sassi local inhabitants started in the 50’s.

The city is then divided into two, on one side are the Sassi, sparsely inhabited and full of tourists, on the other side is the new town, inhabited by most of the locals.

In 2009 the Basilicata Region promoted the Creativity Days, aiming to create a dialogue between the two halves of the city. In particular we were called to design and produce the final event, a big nocturnal collective game to push local citizens to explore the old part of the city and experience the city as a whole.

We immediately started working with local creators, set designers, interaction designers, actors and artists from all different backgrounds.

Thus was born A|Maze, a cyberpunk urban game which involved more than 400 people of all ages, organized in 2-players-teams, with the aim of exploring the city and recovering 6 floppy disks able to unlock the central server and save Matera and its inhabitants from destruction.

It was our first production but the energy that we received from players was incredible; everyone was excited and the town itself woke up the next day with a strangely good feeling.

The next day observers were talking of hundreds of people in white overalls–young people, children, and adults who wandered in the most absurd places in addition to mechanical monsters in the forecourt of the bus station—Minotaurs—strange dark characters roaming in the alleys. There were projections and voices and churches carved into rock inhabited by Necromancers from the future–mission accomplished.


A|Maze – a videogame in the real world.
A project by Focus.
In collaboration with Cinefabrica (Matera), FuseLab (Modena), Mutoid Waste Company (London).
With the support of the Basilicata Region.