Photo/Nikto is a game for the iPad, designed by Annelore Schneider and Douglas Edric Stanley for the project “Unterplay” of the Master of the Media Design – HEAD Geneve. Its functioning is very simple. Before playing, the touchscreen of the device is exactly half white and half black. Touching the screen the game starts. If the room light is on, the white part of the screen gradually invades the black one. Instead if the light is off, the black part will cover the white one. Approaching the edge of the screen, the invasion of black on white (or vice versa) becomes more rapid and urgent, suddenly raising the score indicated at the center of the screen. The game ends up if the invasion of light or shadow reaches the edge of the screen before changing the ambient lighting conditions,.
The easy and clear gameplay is very fascinating, perhaps due to the austere meaning of the struggle between the “white” and “black”, expressed in a minimal and consistent narrative (the light is white, the dark is black). Equally evident considerations are related to the choice of the iPad platform: maybe it would be possible playing even obscuring the light detector of the camera with a finger. Turning the light off and on continuously is a practice ecologically quite harmful. Furthermore the iPad is often used not at home, but in public places or transport in which changing the light conditions sets off some obvious logistical problems. Perhaps the need of staying at home or in an ambient familiar enough to be able to handle the brightness is a significant feature: in fact in order to perform the narrative of this game the environment has to change for the perfect functioning of the device, and not the other way round. Perhaps this feature calls into question the role of technology as a mere instrument of simplification of life in favor of a more evident centrality that sometimes becomes difficult not to recognize.