Appropriative gaming is a genre of games that are designed for environments not originally intended to accommodate them. Appropriative game designers study an environment (city streets, rural fields, virtual worlds, etc.) and create innovative methods by which to temporarily reallocate the environment’s natural affordances in the service of focused gameplay.
The frameworks that are developed to facilitate these gaming experiences are typically not permanent. An infrastructure for an appropriative game is often erected for a single game session and torn down as soon as play has concluded. It would be inappropriate to attempt to characterize this guerilla tendency as being either positive or negative for the genre. These flashpoints of activity may appear to inhibit the genre’s proliferation while posing a significant design challenge, but they remain principal to the genre’s aesthetic. Additionally, this pro tem inclination does not prevent the design of persistent appropriative games. However if the presence of an appropriative game significantly alters the permanent physicality of an environment, it ceases to be an appropriative game.
Pervasive Games Are Not A Genre!, my Master’s Thesis for the Digital Media program at the Georgia Institute of Technology, attempted to sort and categorize existing individual theories related to appropriative gaming in order to arrive at a unified model through which further questions of theory and design may be addressed.