Posted by: Montola | November 25, 2009

Urban Infiltration

One extremely cool activity that we couldn’t properly fit into Pervasive Games is infiltration. defines the activity as “going to places you’re not supposed to go in general”, from urban exploration to dropping into conversations uninvited, and so forth. The bible of the sport is Access All Areas by late Jeff “Ninjalicious” Chapman, which we found one of the most inspiring reads while writing our book — it’s adventurous, daring and reckless, but still firmly grounded in a healthy dose of common sense, and solid if unconventional ethics.

To motivate you to buy a copy of Access All Areas, I’ll cite their website on the topic of hotel pool infiltration from their guide on how to infiltrate the pool areas of classy Toronto hotels — for mostly harmless though perhaps illegal adventuring fun:

Exploring hotels requires a mixture of stealth and social engineering. Unless one sticks strictly to the unused areas of a hotel, there will be many times when one must interact with other people, including employees.

Hotel employees are a lot like bears: though they’ll certainly attack you if you act scared or run from them, under normal circumstances they would really prefer to avoid a confrontation altogether. They know all too well that any sort of conflict with a hotel guest could result in serious punishment, so they’re as scared of you as you are of them.

An infiltrator fantasy: The health club of Toronto Royal York hotel

Later on, he goes into specifics, hotel-by-hotel, like this:

The best tactic to take at the Four Seasons is to stash your backpack somewhere, borrow a hotel towel from a cleaning cart or a supply closet, and then brazenly walk past all the cameras and all the staff straight into the pool changeroom. If you’re confident that you know exactly what you’re doing, they will be too, and no-one will have a chance to shoot you a second look until you’ve already changed into your bathing suit and showered. Half-naked wet folk all look equally casual, so there is less chance of appearing out of place. Furthermore, wet people aren’t very threatening, so there is a greater chance of simply being dismissed as harmless.

The Four Seasons facilities are absolutely five-star: a large indoor/outdoor pool, a deep whirlpool surrounded by mirrored walls, and segregated steam saunas in the changerooms. The changerooms are luxury itself, providing every variety of head condiment available, as well as fully-stocked individual shower stalls and an automatic shoe polisher. An automatic suit dryer is also provided, and a helpful staff member was even so kind as to offer me a plastic Four Seasons bag in which to carry my wet bathing suit (a wonderful credibility prop to use on my next visit).

Personally, I’m too much of a chicken to engage in this thing myself, but I can’t deny that it would be extremely interesting to try it out in good company — I can understand how you might develop an addiction to this kind of thing.

Until the end of the year, you can get a bundle of Access All Areas and all 25 issues of Infiltration for $50, but the real bargain is the book at Amazon for mere $17. Take my word for it, this is an excellent buy — and if you plan to feature urbex in your game without serious hands-on experience, it’s absolutely mandatory reading.

Photos cited from

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