This Bitsy art game invites you to join a team of human operators in a city-wide automated control centre, scanning through a synthetic map of ‘tasks’ generated by the system, and reading the comments appended by their fellow operators. It soon becomes clear that boredom, bad data, and Sisyphean labours, as well as hoaxes, sensor vandalism, and signal noise, make up the bulk of the day-to-day tedium facing these operators, who are the unheralded ‘dull, dirty, back-end’ of the wondrous new ‘smart, self-regulating city’.

Instructions / Tips

Look for the black dots, and follow the routes of the thick black lines, in order to navigate and interact with this piece.

This piece is partly an experiment in generativity using Bitsy, and so contains more text than can be typically encountered over the course of a single play session.

A City is Not a Computer is named after the essay and book by Shannon Mattern. Quotations from the essay can be found throughout a given playthrough, which critique the very scenario depicted in this piece, of urban planning being supposedly reducible to algorithms and data-gathering.

You can explore the piece below (also available at Plays with sound.