The NYC chapter of the awesome Come Out & Play games festival was two-phase this year – the first was an after-hours style event in a cool gallery space at South Street Seaport, and the second was a day of field games both gamer and family friendly at Governor’s Island. Here’s a report of some of the top-notch stuff we saw:
After Dark – July 13th
Fever Karaoke – Appropriately raucous, surreal, and funny, Fever Karaoke gave the entirety of After Dark a playful, quirky, party-like vibe with its mismatched lyrics, hilarious participants, and wacked-out visuals that played out like some nightmare Japanese karaoke DVD. It was exactly “Karaoke meets Mad Libs”, which means it was definitely more fun than regular karaoke. It was extremely loud and impossible to ignore, although to us that was not a bad thing at all – it created a unique atmosphere that worked perfectly for the post-work, Friday night crowd.
Killer Queen Arcade – A 6-on-6, retro-styled multiplayer game with several different ways to win and roles for each player to take on, played with NES controllers and projected on a giant screen? Sign us up. Part old-school platformer, part Joust, part Team Fortress, it had loads of parallel action and mayhem, but was ultimately very balanced (as long as one team wasn’t much more experienced than the other). Great team competition, hugely fun to play, equally fun to spectate, Killer Queen Arcade always had a decent crowd around it and a line of eager players. Can’t wait to play this one again the future.
Swordfight – Swordfight probably had the biggest crowd of the night, strategically positioned outside of the main gallery space on the street, enticing curious passers-by and proving that it’s almost impossible not to watch two people wearing suggestively strapped Atari joysticks and hand restraints jab away at each other. A spectacle like no other in the street gaming world, this is a delightfully awkward game that players and audience members won’t forget anytime soon – even if they try to.
Field Day – July 14th
Balloon Wars – One of the more large-scale games we saw at Field Day, Balloon Wars had players running around furiously, simultaneously protecting their own balloons while trying to pop everyone else’s – except that the balloons were tied to their feet and they couldn’t use their hands. Once eliminated, players turned into spectators – and as the game went on the playing field got smaller and smaller, with the whole wild thing eventually whittling down to an intense duel between two stompers surrounded by 30 or so former-stompers pressing in on them, eagerly anticipating the emergence of a winner. Very simple to play, but also great to watch – chaotic fun for everyone.
Charge of the Rubber Ball Brigade – This huge-scale, dodgeball / capture the flag hybrid was probably the biggest spectacle at Field Day. Two childhood favorites (at least for some) blown up onto a massive scale for maximum exhilaration – with medics! Despite a slightly bumpy start – in the first run of the game Team 1 captured all of Team 2′s flags within seconds of the match beginning and everything ended very quickly – this proved to be quite the thing to witness. The initial dash for the dozens of different-sized balls and subsequent all-out assault is just pure thrills for players and spectators alike that has to be seen to be fully appreciated.
FiiWa – High-tech, sound-based sports game FiiWa showed off some rather cool ideas at Field Day. From a distance it looked like a simple game of throw and catch, but closer inspection revealed that the catcher was “blinded” with what looked like a blacked-out paintball mask and the ball emitted Flywrench-esque noises depending on what it was doing – when idle it played rapidly changing notes and when thrown it played one sustained note, allowing the catcher to aurally “sense” where the ball was rather than see it.
Gargoyles – Gargoyles designer Jaime Woo describes his clever, team-based variation on Ninja as “Twister meets Operation”, and strangely enough this promise rings true. Players are “alive” during their turn and must move around – but if they touch a member of the other team (who is “frozen”) then they are eliminated. This means that the team of alive players is trying to get as close to the frozen players as possible without touching them, so that when it’s the frozen team’s turn to move, they will effectively be trapped – unable to move themselves without touching one of the now-frozen players. If I’m making it sound confusing, it isn’t – upon seeing just one exchange of moves everything becomes immediately clear. Gargoyles was easy to learn, fun to play, equally fun to watch and discuss, and created good vibes all around – everyone we saw playing it left smiling (if they weren’t waiting around to play again).
iTron – While we didn’t actually get a chance to play, everyone we saw participating in this real-life light cycle game looked like they were having a blast. Players would run around the Parade Grounds like maniacs in an attempt to cut off competitors with their “light trails” that updated in real time on maps on their iPhones. Too cool.
The end of Come Out & Play is always a bittersweet thing – the pleasure of having met new people, trying some great new games and having a hundred new ideas, but the frustration of knowing it’s another year till the next one. If you can’t wait that long, then the next CO&P is in San Francisco running from December 1-2, and it’s open for submissions right now.
Or, If you’re looking to play in the UK, our very own Weekender event is coming up for the weekend of September 14-16, so keep your eyes on this website and the Hide&Seek Twitter account (@hidingseeking) for news and info.