From the cybercafé to the street: The right to play in the city


  • Thomas Apperley University of New South Wales
  • Dale Leorke University of Melbourne



Historically, the play of digital games in public was restricted to certain locations such as arcades and cybercafés. The proliferation of personal, mobile, and digitally networked devices, however, has contributed to the ubiquity of digital games in contemporary culture, making them available for play anywhere, any time. This paper uses two examples to examine this recent shift to consider how play and digital games can contribute to revitalising the urban experience. The first examines the experience of playing digital games in urban cybercafés; and the second discusses the recent popular location–based gaming app for the iPhone, Shadow Cities. By contrasting the types of play that unfold in the situated but highly contingent environments of the cybercafé and the ‘hybrid’ space Shadow Cities’ massively multiplayer world, this paper argues that the historical role of play as the foundation for a vibrant and progressive city life is increasingly at stake in the shift towards pervasive, software–mediated gaming applications.

Author Biographies

Thomas Apperley, University of New South Wales

Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales

Dale Leorke, University of Melbourne

Ph.D. candidate in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne




How to Cite

Apperley, T., & Leorke, D. (2013). From the cybercafé to the street: The right to play in the city. First Monday, 18(11).