Picture by Mike Massaro
For most of the games taking place at the Weekender, one of the things that the designers think quite hard about is explaining the rules: what’s the most efficient and interesting way to get players to understand what they’re trying to do? Do they need written instructions? Performers? An example round? Rules added slowly over the course of the game? But there’s one game where none of that’s really necessary: George Buckenham’s Punch the Custard, where the instructions are right there in the title.
Punch the Custard is a game in which two players compete to punch custard. The player who punches the custard the most quickly and accurately – as judged by the computer, which keeps count – is the winner. Successful players might not even get messy hands – because if you punch custard just right, it behaves really weirdly, and bounces your hand back as if it were a hard surface.
It’s a great game: fast-paced and funny, and so incredibly straightforward to play that all the strange development work behind it disappears into the background, almost unnoticeable. (How many games involve electronics, programming and experimenting with the viscosity of edible fluids?) It leaves you out of breath with aching arms – and surrounded by spectators who want to have a go. And maybe covered with custard, but there are some sacrifices that are worth making.
George made a video of the game’s first run, which you can watch here.
Punch the Custard is running in the Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall from 1-6pm on Saturday 15 September and Sunday 16 September.