One of the things I have been wanting to study for some time now is pervasive paidia. We have been moving in that direction, towards looking at pervasive activities that are not really games, but less structured play. If there was funding, one of the first things I’d start learning more about would be skateboarding. I have always found skateboarding to be fascinating: it is playful, an act of appropriation and rebellious. It is a sport, yet there is an undeniable beauty to it. It is urban, yet originates in suburbia. It is free, yet very constrained.
Skateboarding is pervasive play, but there are also forms that qualify as pervasive games. Recently we learned about Helsinki Cup, a team competition for skateboarders where contestants receive missions such as earning money as musical street performers, fast-talking into getting to play records in a club, swimming in fountains and shoplifting.
The Finnish competition seems to be a small-scale variation of the King of the Road challenge that Trasher magazine organized annually until 2007. Here is description from a review of the 2003 King of the Road DVD :
For those uninformed: 4 skateboarding teams (Deluxe, eS, Tum Yeto, & Volcom), each made up of 5 team members, a team manager, a photographer, videographer, and Mystery Guest, make their way across the country scoring points by documenting themselves accomplishing various team challenges. Points are scored by doing tricks listed in a book (distributed to each team), performing challenges relative to the city they are in, by picking up their Mystery Guest, doing the highest, longest and gnarliest things (as judged against the other competitors), and accomplishing a list of other various miscellaneous challenges. At the end of the competition, the team with the most points wins the competition and bragging rights in 2004, where supposedly they are to defend the title.
Fun! There are a lot of videos out there (such as this), but they are a little difficult to understand if one is not part of this particular subculture.