Kunal Gupta

Maldives Trading


In collaboration with Amani Naseem, this game was conceived during “Play Around Nature” in a series of public play events in the Maldives, 2013.

Maldives Trading is a three-day Alternative Reality Game that traces the trajectories of Maldivian stories as they enter and explore a new community.

Small sculptures with a telephone number inscribed on them form game pieces that bring people into the Maldives Trading universe.  Each sculpture – for example: a whale shark, kelp, flying fish, diaper, a piece of the moon – is intertwined with personal story told by a Maldivian during the making of the game.

Initial players take a game piece from an on site installation and call the Maldives Trading robo-calling ledger system phone number, which delivers the original story behind the object, then invites the player to trade the game piece onwards by telling its story.

New players receive a game piece only by trading with a previous player for it, not necessarily aware of the game during the exchange.  To play, the new player then calls the Maldives Trading robo-calling ledger system phone number, which asks the player to recount the story of the personal item that they just traded away, and then invites the player to trade their game piece onwards as well by telling its story.

At every trade, the Maldives Trading robo-calling ledger system calls every player of Maldives Trading and delivers the story of an item that was just traded in exchange for a game piece.  If the stories sound exciting, interesting, fun, or just valuable, it may be worth seeking and trading for the game piece again, if only to trade it for the next interesting thing.



Kunal Gupta is a New York City based artist and musician. Holding degrees from both Columbia and NYU, Kunal is an established figure within the international technology-arts community. Most notably he is founder of the independent video game collective Babycastles, which has gained international acclaim for its innovative use of computer and videogame technology and a social and creative medium. Kunal is also part of the experimental music trio Loud Objects. He has toured extensively to perform, create site-specific installations, and give artist lectures, including his recent Babycastles Arcade Summit at the Museum of Art. and Design in Manhattan. He has co-directed the New York City all-ages art venue Silent Barn since 2010