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Along the Lines of the Occupation

Playing at Diminished Reality in East Jerusalem

Fabio Cristiano and Emilio Distretti

Augmented reality enables video game experiences that are increasingly immersive. For its focus on walking and exploration, Niantic’s location-based video game Pokémon Go (PG) has been praised for allowing players to foster their understanding and relationship to surrounding spaces. However, in contexts where space and movement are objects of conflicting narratives and restrictive policies on mobility, playing relies on the creation of partial imaginaries and limits to the exploratory experience. Departing from avant-garde conceptualizations of walking, this article explores the imaginary that PG creates in occupied East Jerusalem. Based on observations collected in various gaming sessions along the Green Line, it analyzes how PG’s virtual representation of Jerusalem legitimizes a status quo of separation and segregation. In so doing, this article argues that, instead of enabling an experience of augmented reality for its users, playing PG in East Jerusalem produces a diminished one.