Nearly ten years since the launch of Apple’s App Store, the adventurous pioneering days of mobile development that beget playful experiments such as PhiLia 01, Eliss, or SpringMesh may seem like distant memories (in fact, two of them are no longer available). Matured into thoroughly commodified platforms, browsing iOS and Android app stores today is like strolling through a mall. But as ZKM, the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe (DE), reminds us every year: as environments for creative inquiry, phones and tablets are as popular as ever, providing a continuous supply of ‘creative apps’ – if you know where to look. Since 2011, the German media art centre hosts the annual AppArtAward to honour exceptional work on mobile devices and to foster broader conversations around software art, human-machine interaction, digital tools, the “incredible success story of the app phenomenon” (Christiane Riedel, ZKM), and its dissemination to a global audience. For this year’s edition, ZKM added a timely new category: next to game and sound art, the AppArtAward 2017 will recognize “AppARTivism” – creative apps that draw attention to social issues and turn users into citizens.
Calling all developers working on innovative, creative, and subversive video games! Games have moved far beyond their entertainment-oriented origins and become an engine for altering perception and driving conversations; this award is for those pushing the envelope and redefining the expressive potential of the medium.