The Giant Potential of Tiny Games

17 September 2012 | 0 comments

So here I am at Hide&Seek Directing some Development and I’m excited. I’m on record stating my belief that games can do far more than is currently imagined; and if there’s any studio that’s really taking games to places and people they currently don’t reach, then Hide&Seek are they. Or should I say, us.

The Tiny Games project is enough to show why Hide&Seek are as interesting and forward looking place to work as can be imagined. Before I started hanging around the office looking sharp, the 99 Tiny Games project had already come and almost gone. It’s described in lots of places, so I shan’t go into detail here, but essentially, it’s games designed to be played in specific places, with rulesets about a tweet in length, written on vinyl posters and stuck to things so anyone who passes can play them.

They’re mostly really brilliant, but they’re interesting for at least two reasons:

Firstly, they are the greatest adverts anyone has ever devised. Games are entirely abstract things, You read the rules, and they exist and can be seen, but then the game – well that game only exists in your head. You build a model of it in your brain and you act according to the model. That’s what games are. So why bother trying to engage people with a message they look at when you can get them to engage with something they have to carry around in their heads? Games’ ability to engage leaves any other form of situated advertising in the dust and hey, here’s an example of exactly how that works. Watch this if you don’t believe me – three ladies talking in epic detail about the precise meaning of the word ‘dum’ is waaayy more engagement than the normal billboard poster elicits (obviously, the presence of a camera and a man helps, but they are getting seriously into it there).

Secondly, Tiny Games are all about specific games for specific people in specific places. That’s a great way to think about game design. Who is playing this and where are they when they play it? It is an essential way to think about games when you’re designing for a particular park, or museum, or stairwell or hillock, but it works just as well when the place is the front room and the people are your family. Or the place is a dinner table and the people are your friends. Or the place is a bus and the person is you on your phone. It thinks about design holistically. What were these people doing, who is playing and who is watching, how game-literate are they, are they all the same or are they all different? And what do they have to hand, how much space do they have, what can they see, hear, smell and touch? Can they talk openly, can they move easily?

Designing games like this creates a massive opportunity to make games in totally different ways on every conceivable platform. And how can you not get excited about that? So yes, this is going to be completely awesome. We’ve already got some very exciting things in the works and if you want to get involved, well, you know who to talk to…

I mean me. Talk to me, yeah?

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