Into the Sandbox is a three-part film programme curated by Vladimir Nadein for Open exploring the interconnections between cinema, digital gaming worlds, virtual landscapes, and gamification. The programme propels the Pavilion's 2020 online film series, Other Zones – a programme investigating how alternative ideas of collectivity can emerge from compartmentalised societies and geographies – into the domains of video games, digital environments and gamification.
"Sandbox" is a widely used umbrella term that incorporates a variety of definitions: an open world game wherein characters' enjoy a great degree of creativity and freedom; a security mechanism to mitigate software vulnerabilities from failures; a video game developing metaverse wherein creators can monetise their game experiences; a new form of blockchain smart residential community located in Nevada's desert "Sandbox city"; military war zones.
The first part of the programme appropriates a general term used to describe cheat code, God Mode - which affords a player special powers such as invincibility and the ability to fly or walk through walls to name a few. Through a game engine, featured artists build their hyper-fictional worlds in near and distant futures, examining the complex tensions between humanity, technology, non-human actors and climate disruption, in search for the ultimate answer to the question: «how to live forever?»
The programme continues with AFK! - a chat acronym or online status denoting a player stepping away from their device, while their avatar remains in the game space. Focusing on military and FPS (First person shooter) games, the second part seeks to understand the potential of dissident counter gaming, the evershifting and blurry boundaries between the digital and the real worlds, wherein it becomes unclear as to who has left the game, the player or the avatar. AFK becomes a command for demilitarisation, peaceful and antiwar action – «Away from keyboard!»
In multiplayer online games, instances are special areas (typically in the form of a dungeon) where the digital environment is duplicated once entered by each player group in order to eliminate opponents, gain experience or obtain rare artifacts. Instance Dungeons concludes the film screening programme. Re-emerging from the digital environment of the "sandbox" and into our physical world, the final chapter of the film programme explores how video games and gamification influence our lives, dreams, nightmares and the virtual worlds we collectively inhabit.