International collaboration Killbox explores drone warfare

Killbox at A Maze, Berlin

Killbox is an online game and interactive installation that has recently been exhibited at Phoenix’s Cube Gallery, following appearances at Berlin’s A Maze festival, the University of California’s Eyes in the Sky symposium and many other international events and appearances. We found out more from one of Killbox’s four collaborators, independent game designer, artist and producer Malath Abbas.

What is Killbox and how did it come about?

Killbox is an online game and interactive installation that critically explores the nature of drone warfare, its complexities and consequences. It is an experience which explores the use of technology to transform and extend political and military power, and the abstraction of killing through virtualisation. The work is an international collaboration between U.S. based artist/activist, Joseph DeLappe and Scotland-based artists and game developers, Malath Abbas, Tom Demajo and Albert Elwin. Joseph was in Scotland on a residency last spring following an introduction from NEoN he spent that time with us at our game collective/co-working space. We started prototyping ideas and settled on the multiplayer aspect fairly early in development.


You worked with Californian artist Joseph DeLappe on the project, what was your experience of collaborating with someone across international borders?

Collaboration is an integral part of the game making process and reaps rewards particularly when working with people outside of our own disciplines. New ideas spring up, new processes, and the reach of our art is extended. The international collaboration with Joseph DeLappe has been delightful. The challenges are the usual that you find when working over the internet, and easily overcome with regular communication and careful project management. Killbox has benefited greatly from the diverse inputs going into the project as well as our collective network. I’ve certainly learnt a lot working with Joseph, as well as Tom and Albert.

What sort of conversations do you hope Killbox encourages among participants?

Frank discussions. Ideally Killbox raises an awareness about the subject of Drone warfare. The game is careful not to point the finger and let the audience decide how they feel. We’ve already witnessed deep conversations and reflection that take place at exhibitions of the work. A number of players have reacted emotionally to the piece and this led to very personal conversations. Interestingly even when people watch others play, they like to talk about it. The installation works on many different levels especially as it’s networked between two players.

Killbox at the V&A

Killbox has been shown internationally at a wide range of events, what have the responses been like?

We’ve been showing Killbox at various early stages of development and so it has featured worldwide. Across Scotland, the UK as well as internationally including the USA. Our latest exhibition was as part of the A Maze festival in Berlin, which attracted a lot of attention from various arts and culture organisations based in Europe. It’s great to see games respected as an art form.

What do you have planned next for Killbox?

The work is still in development and we will be presenting the complete game and installation at NEoN Digital Arts festival 2016 in Dundee. Beyond this we hope to tour the work across the UK and internationally at galleries, museums and festivals. We’re considering more international exhibitions and look forward to the work to be accessible to the widest possible international audience. I would love for the work to get to South America, Japan and in particular Pakistan.

Find out more about Killbox.

Malath Abbas will be part of the panel at the upcoming Light Bytes session in Dundee, taking place on 2 June at The Vision Building. Tickets are free and can be booked via EventBrite

Killbox was funded through the Creative Scotland Open Project Fund.

This article was published on 20 May 2016