Merging Minds is the outcome of a residency with artist Yambe Tam and the Rethinking Collective Minds research team at the Wellcome Centre for Ethics & Humanities, University of Oxford.
This video game invites people to enter a three dimensional labyrinth as multi-mind avatars - multiple players embodying the same bodies - collaborating and coordinating with each other to navigate obstacles. It simulates some of the challenges collective minds could face in the future around decision-making, the economy of merging, and attachment to identity. Rather than offering any definitive answer to these questions, our approach was more like a virtual laboratory, creating the conditions to observe how people would intuitively react in these situations.
The creative process involved collaborating with generative AI on the character designs and koan-like (Zen riddle) text that helps guide players throughout the game, following the spirit of the use of intermediary computers or AI in BCIs, BCBIs, and BBIs to organise collective minds.
In the game, merging with other players and NPCs simulates the experience of joining a collective mind. This blurring of boundaries between self and other is translated into a spiritual experience of transcendence that sparks considerations of how much participants are willing to surrender individual identities, interests, and motives on behalf of a wider collective.
Merging Minds, Fusion Arts, 95 Gloucester Green, Oxford (11-21 May 2023)
Sound Design: Barney Kass
3D Asset Integration
3x Game Controllers
Merging Minds was streamed on Twitch during the exhibition opening hours and online players could participate by controlling a Twitch character in the game via chat.
The game was built upon a series of play testing sessions with focus groups of young people aged 16-18 in collaboration with the NEUROSEC Young People's Advisory Group. Early sessions involved playing existing video games with cooperative mechanics and/or themes related to collective agency while later sessions involved play testing the Merging Minds game.