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BART Psychogeographical Association Biome EquivalenZ Humanitarian Crisis The University of Aesthematics Chrononautic Exploratorium S.N.I.D.E

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About SFZero

SF Weekly [PDF]

"...creates an environment unlike that of almost any other game, offering a deeper meaning that extends beyond the traditional notion of what it means to go out and play."


"For players, the chance to invent tasks themselves and to be directly involved in the creation of the game is a unique opportunity."

Greg Niemeyer

"If there is such a thing as open source games, sf0 is a beautiful version of it."

Click here for the new player guide!

SFZero: An interface for San Francisco. That is to say, a new representation for the data that's already there. Your mind is full of /inaccurate/ representations that are affecting the way you use the San Francisco dataflow: steering you away from interaction and collaboration and towards unproductive reflexive data loops (forNext). SFZero designers are working double-shifts to engineer this next-generation interface that will bring you together with your cohabitants to experience the freedom that is /hard-coded/ into San Francisco's protocol.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I Play The Game SFZero Even If I Don't Live In San Francisco?
A: Yes.

Creating A New Character

What does it mean to create a new character in SFZero? Your character looks exactly the same as you. Your character will have all the same skills and attributes as you, and even the same memories and feelings. "Isn't my character, just, well, /me/?" Good question.

Your character has several important things that you do not have. First, your character has a Score. Its Score is a barometer of its progress.

You may find that your own willingness to interact with the city in new ways varies linearly with relation to your Score.

Second, your character will become affiliated with groups that you may or may not be affiliated with yourself. As you play SFZero, your decisions will determine which groups you are affiliated with.

Last, and most importantly, your character is able to do things that you may be unable or unwilling to do yourself. Your character doesn't recognize the artificial boundaries that prevent non-players from doing what they want to do. Things like fear, lethargy and the police don't deter your character from achieving his or her goals.

Your character never misses a connection - it will get you Score.

When you create a character please enter its full name, email address, the area in which it lives, and its username. You may also enter in the character's sex and physical home address. Although these are optional, they will enhance the game experience.

It will be helpful later on in the game if your character's address and geographic area are the same as yours. At this point you must also chose a group. For more information on group selection please see the "choosing a group" section of the manual.

Your character will receive its own personal web page. This page contains everything that your character has done in the game.

Groups & Grouposis

As you play SFZero you will find yourself often working with, sometimes against, the powerful bureaucracies of the BART Psychogeographical Association, EquivalenZ, Humanitarian Crisis, the University of Aesthematics, Biome, the Chrononautic Exploratorium and the Society For Nihilistic Intent And Disruptive Efforts. These institutional bureaucracies support you by providing jobs, services and formal ideological constraints. They also provide you with a community. You'll never walk alone. In exchange they appropriate your labor to add to their virtual political capital and fuel their war machines.

As you play SFZero your actions will determine which groups you join. Each group has different aims and interests. If you wish, you may join groups that share your aims and interests. Alternatively, you may join groups that share your character's aims and interests if they are different than your own. It is important to choose your groups carefully through your praxis. Your choices may have far-reaching implications in your life.

Groups control different zones of tasks. Each group task you complete advances you one rank in that group. Your group rank represents the strength and poignancy of your affiliation, your progression through a particular zone, and your personal advancement as a real-world-being.

Grouposis is a living map of how you navigate the bureaucracy of desire, graphing the intersection of your individual desire with the desires of the institutional entities of SFZero.

Beware: as you conquer ideological zones through Grouposis, so too do the ideological zones conquer you. Additionally, if you play haphazardly, Grouposis will reveal your secret desires to you. It will also be used by a DARPA-funded defense project as a personal compatibility test that deploys compatible spies to track and seduce you.

Playing The Game

Play the game by completing tasks and proving that you have completed them. Log in. Click on the "Tasks" button in the main navigation to see a list of all the tasks in the game. Then click on the link "show only tasks that you can do" to view a list of tasks that you can sign up for. Sign up for one. Do the task. When it's done, click on "submit proof" and upload something as proof. Each task has a point value that will be added to your Score upon completion. You will gain bonus points if you earn votes from other players.

Task number 1 is always: upload a picture of your character.


Certain tasks require collaboration to complete. In the task details you can see the minimum and maximum number of players required for any given task. If the minimum is greater than one you must find someone to work together with on the task. When you navigate to the Choose Task page, you can see which tasks are available to you. Many tasks will be available to you only through collaboration with your friends. You can complete tasks outside your group with the help of friends in other groups.

Proving You Did It [Navigating Bureaucracy]

"The pathological striving for pleasure is located in the formal space of duty."

You must submit proof in order to earn points from completing tasks.

This just means that you must document what you are doing for the game in any way that feels appropriate to you. Innovative documentation is the key to successfully playing the game. Taking pictures, making audio or video recordings or writing about what you have done are all acceptable and probably convenient forms of documentation, however, there are no limitations or restrictions on documentation. You may do it however you please and you'll find that the best documentation format will vary depending on the task.

Don't forget: the public life of your character is constituted largely by the proof you submit. If you fail to document your progress creatively your character will appear inept and foolish to the other residents of San Francisco.

If the outcome of your documentation is digital you may submit it via the website. Otherwise feel free to get it to us by whatever means appropriate.

In SFZero we refer to completed tasks as Praxis:-) genuinely free, self-conscious, authentic activity as opposed to the alienated labour demanded under capitalism.

"Doing your duty is located in the formal space of pathological satisfactions."


One of the goals in SFZero is to work your way up from Level 0 to Level 8. Advancing in Level is an incredible, life-altering experience similar to a surprise birthday party or swimming with dolphins.

To level up you must reach a certain predetermined score:

LevelRequired Score

As you level up you will gain access to more interesting and difficult tasks. These tasks aren't available until you reach a certain level because SFZero wants all players to experience character-building and forward progress. That is to say, putting a flag on top of the Sutro Tower should be the culmination of your character's SFZero life and not just a quirky thing to on a lunch break from work.


Voting is the process by which you glorify and honor other players in the public sphere. You have an unlimited number of votes that you can use award bonus points to other players' completed tasks.

SFZero imagines a Utopic future in which a majority of the points players receive are from bonus point votes. Tasks completed in epic fashion will be generously rewarded by fellow players. You will be able to see who voted for your tasks and can thank them by becoming friends and collaborating together.

To vote for a task, click on the vote button on the proof page for that completed task. To see who you've voted for and who has voted for you, go to your player home page and click "votes."

Adding Tasks

As a player you have the ability to submit new tasks to the game for other players to complete. Your tasks will be added to the game pending approval by a rotating board of SF Cops of the Month, children, the cast of Jurassic Park, Nasia and Tannhäuser Dèrive. Tasks may be modified or deleted without notice.

How Scoring Works

Scores for tasks are assigned based on a complicated algorithm developed by the military. Scores for tasks are calculated by a bureaucracy of bipartisian retired judges working under a system of "checks and balances." Scores for tasks are implemented by a process bank of personal computers running SFZero's proprietary spyware.

In this manner we hope to keep the scoring system in SFZero completely impartial.

Collaborative tasks are worth more points because real people working together is a wonderful thing. SFZero's designers imagine a decentralized network of enthusiastic collaborators, like an association of terrorist cells.

[the following is no longer true]

Scoring may also be broken down into series of differently weighted categories of value: Terror, Difficulty, Municipality, Level of Collaboration, Creativity, Intellectual Investment, Cultural Effect, Group Ideology and Wild Card.

Here's how we define those terms:

  1. Terror (0-1000 points): unsignification
  2. Difficulty (1-8 points): materials needed, social difficulty, legality, time needed
  3. Municipality (1-6 points): public, non-players affected, distance from computer in meters
  4. Collaboration (1-6 points): collaboration
  5. Creativity (1-5 points): genius theory
  6. Intellectual Investment (1-3 points): relation to Derrida
  7. Group Ideology (1-3 points): furthers aims of group
  8. Wild Card (0-? points): ?


SFZero is an ongoing game comprised of historical epochs or "Eras." Each Era has a unique name that reflects the prominent ideological struggle of the time.

The first Era was "Impossible Exchange." The name represents the challenge of creating a new world equivalently exchangeable with the Earth, qua object-image, as seen from outer-space. In Impossible Exchange we attempt to model the real on the virtual, rejecting the emancipated plural forms of subjectivity in favor of the dual relationship of challenge.

The subsequent Era was "Glasnost" - a time of social change fueled by a new openness. In Glasnost we confront the question: "Are we bureaucrats or are we human beings?"

The third Era will be called "Insatiability" and will concern the tragicomedy of being human.

In the beginning of each new Era scores are reset to zero and group affiliations annulled. All tasks from the previous Era are retired and the game is seeded with new tasks created by the engineers.

Eras last until the cultural production forces of the epoch have been exhausted.


It is strictly prohibited to:

  1. Kill other players, except in designated player killing areas.
  2. Steal valuable possessions from the corpses of already dead players.

Secret Rules are as follows:

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  1. SFZero: The Drive To Play SFZero
  2. SFZero: Scoring Bureaucracy of Competence
  3. SFZero: Gaming Structure of Freedom
  4. SFZero: The Drive to Play SFZero Will Not Be Recuperated By The Government
  5. SFZero: Stalinist Game Of Intermittent Chance
  6. SFZero: Art Simulation
  7. SFZero: encourages the hard play and a sharp eye for the strange one