“CTRL ALT PDX” Navigates Normalcy

Digital storytelling firm WILD made a site-specific video game about Portland!

CTRL ALT PDX comes into view at the corner of SE 25th Ave. like a little piece of Vegas: 750 square-feet of window space converted to a glowing interactive gaming environment.

On the westward wall of 2502 SE Division, a four-projector array within the building fills the windows with white rain atop a nightfall of black. On the north-facing wall, passersby are invited to dial a number and start playing.


After calling in and using my phone’s keypad to enter a unique four-digit code, an operator instructs me to design a character—hair, shirt, pants, name—and begin my journey through an alternate Portland in which the evil Mr. Bossman has taken over the city and imposed normalcy on the masses.

“Ugh, what time is it? I must’ve fallen asleep,” says a female voice, setting up my mission. “My head is killing me, I can hardly see a thing in this rain. I just need to get home. Will you stay on the line with me while I figure this out?”

Before I can object or oblige, our unnamed protagonist is interrupted by a Micromanager—a character in Mr. Bossman’s fold who attempts to give our rain-blind homerunner a “mindless occupation, just like the rest of us.”

To avoid assimilation into “tame Portland,” I press 1 on my keypad to write the Micromanager a sonnet, disintegrating the foe’s squeaky little soul to darkness, and our lead lady slips away into the safety of the rain.


News & Notes: ArtsWatch goes so Hollywood

Reese Witherspoon hits the trail in "Wild," a new take on "My Own Private Idaho"

Sometimes ArtsWatch just has to go Hollywood, because Hollywood just seeks us out.

By this time, we’re all caught up on Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” right? Her account of her conquest of herself as she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail was a major best-seller (more than 1 MILLION sold), and the film rights were secured by Reese Witherspoon, who not only bought them, but is filming the movie right now in Southern Oregon, playing Strayed herself.

Well, we have a photo of Witherspoon on the trail, which she posted on her Twitter account (@RWitherspoon).

Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed on the Pacific Crest Trail.

And you know, it’s pretty convincing!


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