Research, In-game Intervention

Go Army

Everyone is a virtual soldier and their image can be found in the military propaganda.

By engaging with these worlds, we explored how can we as artists and designers learn from online communities and design for these very fantastical places.

Adobe Illustrator,
Adobe Photoshop,
Lens Studio.


This project is part of a series of works that explores virtual worlds, which is a livestream performance that took place on Twitch, Interaction as Event.

Go Army is a guided tour which takes place on Erangle Island in PlayerUnknown’s Battleground(PUBG). The project examines the predatory attempts of the US military to use video games as a recruiting tactic. When war is presented as something to be played, the viewers perceive the political content, enter militarized virtual worlds, and become virtual soldiers and army recruitment targets without even notice.

To stress the idea of “everyone is a virtual soldier and their image can be found in the military propaganda”, I take the livestream viewers on a tour of the island's photo spots, where they can take pictures of themselves imitating the images from US Army recruiting ads. During the tour, as an intervention against the default narrative of the game, I also communicate with the in-game players and try to team with them to build an army in PUBG.

The project is instructed by Jenny Rodenhouse.


Phase 1:
Exploratory research on the in-game worldview, gamer behaviors, and game interfaces.

With my peers, I explored virtual interventions, documentation strategies of observing, and exploratory research.

For example:

Phase 2:
Designed the interaction and refined the language/tone.

1) Designing the interaction.

I conceptualized a series of multiplayer event iterations using the following genre/time types:

A habit, routine, or ritual; A catastrophe or crisis; A season (nature or fashion); A competition, sporting, workout, or war; An apology; An album, song, or performance; A talent show, musical, or play; A press briefing; Shopping; An recommendation algorithm; Cooking or cleaning; A party; An accident, fire, or crash; A seance

As I conducted in-game interventions in different roles, I realized that different mediums have the ability to construct a narrative space within the game world. To explore this idea further, I decided to use a trip as the form of my final event.

2) Crafting and refining the formal communication to fit to the message as well as the medium.

Below are some selected pages from the visual language exploration:

(Selected slides from the weekly research presentation)

Mavis Cao 2022, Pasadena, CA