Spring Alpha

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Audience playing spring_alpha at MAKEART festival, Poitiers, 2007.
Screen grab from game, 2004, Simon Yuill, spring_alpha project.


It is easy to forget that life’s apparent rules aren’t set in stone. Borrowing part of its name from the ‘alpha’ phase of software testing (an early developmental stage in the life of software where nothing is fixed and a large amount of testing is necessary), this virtual-world game invites people to playfully test out different societal models. Created by Simon Yuill, and taking the other part of its name from a series of drawings by Chad McCail (which form the central story and scenery), it provides a council estate and adjunct urban environment where players can act out new social narratives. Comparing computer codes with codes of conduct and governance, the game’s source code is also made available to participants as a way of even more substantially restructuring this perpetual test-phase society. The result is that literally and metaphorically hacking social code becomes the ultimate means of playing the game.

More Information




  • Documentation from 'spring_alpha:demoville', early stages of project development, Amsterdam, showing original artwork by Chad McCail, public workshops and demo versions of software.
2005, Simon Yuill, spring_alpha project, video: Simon Yuill, Eleobora Orreggio, sound: Mark Vernon
OGG format (lo res): http://www.spring-alpha.org/video/module_01/presentation.ogg
AVI format: http://www.spring-alpha.org/video/module_01/presentation.avi
  • Documentation of the 'spring_alpha:spring_city' exhibition at the Media Centre, Huddersfield.
2005, Simon Yuill, spring_alpha project, voice: Chad McCail, sound: Mark Vernon.
OGG format: http://www.spring-alpha.org/video/module_04/huddersfield.ogg
AVI format: http://www.spring-alpha.org/video/module_04/huddersfield.avi

Additional Material

  • Matthew Fuller, 2004, "Not Vice City Not Nice City", Mute Magazine
  • Simon Yuill, 2007, "spring_alpha: a social pattern book", in Media Mutandis: a NODE.London Reader, edited by Marina Vishmidt, Mary Anne Francis, Jo Walsh and Lewis Sykes, NODE.London and Mute Magazine
  • Christian Ulrik Andersen & Søren Bro Pold, 2011, "The Patterns of Software cities", Aarhus University, Digital Aesthetics Research Center and Center for Digital Urban Living