Hide&Seek is closing

26 November 2013 | 67 comments

After five-and-a-bit years of inventing new kinds of play, Hide&Seek will be closing its doors early in the New Year.

It’s been a privilege to work with so many wonderful people and organisations in that time. To everyone who’s commissioned us, who’s made games with us, or helped us in some way, thank you.

We’re wrapping up our final projects – the last TIny Games Kickstarter rewards, some consultancy, a game for Westminster Council’s Get Home Safe campaign, and a month of games for Kensington Palace- and winding up. Everything we’ve currently committed to – whether to clients, suppliers or players – will be finished over the coming weeks.

I think that, to many people reading this, the news that we’re closing up will come as a surprise… so it bears some explanation as to why.

Hide&Seek was a hopeful, different thing. Not a copy, not an incremental change to the norm. A game studio working in the cultural sector, an arts organisation with a commercial client list, curators and supporters of an emerging network of game designers with an interest in making games for public space. We’ve made festivals, conferencesthe saddest thing on the internet, a philosophical Twine game,  filled Edinburgh with New Year Games, been featured by Apple, consulted for the likes of Nike and eBay, won awards, spoken at conferences and events around the world. We haven’t kept a very close track, but we’re sure you can number the people who’ve played one of our physical games in the tens of thousands, and one of our digital games in the millions.

The business model that underpinned that work was that of an agency. We got commissions, paid suppliers, and hopefully had enough left over to pay the wage bill. And that worked okay, for a while – the big entertainment projects topped up the low-budget cultural work, and we were small enough to ride out the lean times.

Throughout the life of the studio, we’ve striven to make better games – building our capacity through new hires, keeping a group of talented people together. In particular, we’ve improved the studio’s ability to make digital games. Making a good studio culture – where people are employed, paid fairly, supported – is central to our idea of what Hide&Seek is about.

As austerity has really started to bite, the budgets on offer for the kind of work we do have either disappeared, or reduced by a factor of 10.

You don’t have to be any kind of a smart businessperson (insert joke about me here) to figure out that if your salary bill’s going up, and your income’s going down, you’re going to struggle.

We also knew there was no white knight of public funding out there to help us out. While there is a rhetoric of governmental support for the creative industries, and for cultural organisations that innovate, our experience of funders has been one of diminishing returns. We stopped applying for things after we worked out that if you added up all the studio days that had been spent working on unsuccessful funding applications, you could have hired a whole extra person to work on making games.

Responding to those trends, we planned a pivot to a for-customers model with Tiny Games, and we’ve been trying a bunch of other things behind the scenes. Seriously, a bunch – including pitches to investors, swinging for a huge film license, and talking to anyone we thought might
finance something like the thing we wanted Hide&Seek to be. What we’ve found is that hard-to-categorise thing about us – that diversity, that public-spiritedness, that cultural curiosity – is hard for the market to value.

Despite all that, the brilliant, enterprising people who work for H&S (who you should totally hire, by the way) have all worked the equivalent of three jobs – maintaining our agency work, producing Tiny Games, and helping me pitch H&S as a start-up to investors. One of the reasons for wrapping up slightly sooner than we absolutely had to is to give us time to find new jobs for the team. If you’re hiring, please get in touch with me personally at alex@hideandseek.net.

It would, of course, be possible to keep Hide&Seek going in some form. To let everyone go but ‘keep the brand alive’, ready to phoenix back out of my spare room into some new shape. I think that would be untrue to the ideals of the project. Hide&Seek is the sum of its parts – the shared contribution of a group of people who made games together between 2007 and 2013. Those people are all going to go on and do interesting things (did I mention you should hire them), and I hope carry the ideas and the values that we incubated here to new levels.

While we’re all really, really sad about this – sad that we can’t keep this great group together, sad we won’t make more games – we’re also very proud of the body of work we created, and planning to go out with our heads held high. If you have a good memory of a Hide&Seek game, why not break with 2013 custom and post a comment? We’d love to hear them…

67 comments on this post.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, David Hayward said:

    I feel so sad for you all right now. A memory:

    Checkpoint, in the Clore Ballroom, at one of your Weekenders. It was silly and inventive while supporting a lot of players, and is the game I’ve always gone back to when trying to explain your events to people. I didn’t have Bernie De Koven’s terms when I played it, but that Weekender was the first thing that gave me some sense of a big play community too.

    Thank you for those six years.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Kass Schmitt said:

    Thanks to H&S for teaching me how much fun could be had with a teammate, teatowel, and tangerine. Your successful Tiny Games Kickstarter campaign will stand as a masterclass in crowdfunding campaign crafting. Most of all I will value the example you are setting in facing this difficult situation with grace and integrity. I have no doubt that we will continue to see great things from your alumni.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Fausto Fonseca said:

    In 2008 a friend of mine, trying to make some kind of different events company in Portugal, invited me to come with her to something she told me was different than anything we ever experienced in Portugal. We read the whole website for the Hide & Seek games festival and we were astonished and curious about all those weird game descriptions! We bought the flights and we arrived at our small room on top of a pub near the Southbank. The next day we were there, in the beginning of the event, in a conference where cool people (Alex, Simon, etc) were talking about games in a way we’ve never thought about. After that we started attending the games, talking to people.. the most interesting people and with the most warm welcomes for these 2 Portuguese people that bought plane tickets specially for that event. I remember Alex excited with that, yelling to another colleague “Hey! These two came from Portugal especially for H&S! Cool!”.
    I had drinks with several game designers. They worked for different companies, but yet, they were all there sharing their new ideas with each other, and the new projects not yet shown to the public, without any fear their ideas being ripped off. And the ones listening were actually bouncing ideas back to them on how they could make it better! Their own competition. That culture, alone, was mind blowing!
    I must confess that, if before that I was curious about coming to London one day, to experience living here, it was that festival that made me certain I was going to try that. And today I’ve been here for a little more than 1 year. My current girlfriend couldn’t hear any more about all the H&S I was going to attend now that I was going to live in London, like all the other juicy events that London has to offer. As soon as we arrived, there was a H&S event in 2 or 3 days, probably the last one. The magic was there once again. And she finally understood what I was talking about.
    I have no doubt that H&S had a major role in me coming to London, and as you can imagine, moving to another country is no small step, especially when you are not used to that idea. So I can say without reservations that it changed me and my life a bit. So thank you for that and I hope you can find a way to maintain, at least, the H&S as a festival of games, as a channel to bring excellent game designers together in sandpits and festivals.
    But even if that doesn’t happen, for whatever reason it might be, that magic I talked about didn’t come from a brand but from people. Special people that live life differently and that won’t stop doing magic even after this one project ends. So I will definitely be looking out for any new things you’re doing!

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Dom Camus said:

    Good game design is hard – much harder than it looks. Hide & Seek for me was a rare example of real excellence in a sea of mediocrity. If you had a pound for every time I’ve used you or one of your games or events as an example of doing something right or of what I hoped to see more of in future, you’d still be in business today.

    Hide & Seek will be long and fondly remembered. I look forward with interest to seeing what you all get up to next…

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Alex said:

    Damnit Dom here you come with a business model AND IT’S TOO LATE

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Dorothee Olivereau said:

    So sad to see you go, such inpsirational entertaining and innovative work… Dreams of a Life is by far one of the best interactive documentary type experience done. Thanks for all this amazing work over the years you will be missed!

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Phil said:

    That’s sad to hear. But kudos for trying to do things different. It’s very hard to be one of the small guys and survive in mobile development right now (as I laid out in my blog post on gamasutra today).

    I, like you think there is lots of room for innovation in the mobile space, but ultimately you need to pay the bills.

    You’re obviously a talented bunch so no doubt success will be in your futures!

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Giac0m0 said:

    I am incredibly sad that this has happened; my first experience of H&S was a weekend long games festival where I learned about southern American stone games, make rude words with hat-scrabble and met a great group of interesting, dynamic and playful people that I’ve since grown closer to (with their knowledge) to become people I would call friends. It would be my dearest wish that games will still be played, and I hope that if they are, I and random strangers can get an invite.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Julien said:

    I really relate to your business-adventure, as I know a lot of creative people in the same complex spot here in Paris. You invented new things, bravo.

    Concerning Tiny Games, I’m a backer, and I’m sure you want for your product to live on in the palm of the hand of many players in the following years, just like players want to be able to play in the next following years.

    With that in mind, I can think of a couple of actions you could do that would avoid put Tiny Games into the dreaded Abandonware stasis:

    - Make it totally free on the app store : with the current system of a code to unlock content, I’m not sure I will be able to unlock the content when I change to a new iPhone. Will your server be able to validate my old code? What about if I change icloud account for some reason?

    - freely distribute the PDF as an universal alternative. I chose the app because it’s more interactive and was a nice use of the iPhone, but now I feel that the people that got the PDF will be able to pass it to their kids to play with. Apps on iOS are much more jailed.

    - make Tiny Games open source on github! Then it won’t suffer the sad abandonware destiny of so many apps we love on the store, because at the very least people will be able to recompile it to works on new iOS and new iPhones, maybe using a dev friend account. It might also be a good way to rekindle interest in it, and gather the old team from time to time to update it (hackathon! with games!).

    As you know, abandonware is even more problematic on the iOS platform, because of the restrictions on installing software.

    In any case, thanks for having the ethics and courage to publish this post in advance, not after closing the company. It’s rare.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Gareth Briggs said:

    Simply not enough good words to say about you all. You gave me my first break when I was just dreaming of being a game designer, and opened my eyes to whole areas that I’d never previously considered. You’ll be very much missed.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Janet E Davis said:

    I haven’t had the opportunity to participate in one of your games but have watched the conversations about them online, thought them intriguing and adding something to life – and hoped one day to be able to take part in at least one. I’m very sorry to hear that you’re having to close. It’s such a pity that this kind of creativity cannot get enough funding/investment. I wish you all the best of luck for the future.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Dan Efergan said:

    So many beautiful minds (albeit slightly twisted in some cases) all in one room. The world, the media industry and the arts sector should be in Tiny Mourning… very sad.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Daisy Swaffer said:

    So sad to hear this – I’ve had such fun times with your games over the years and when I backed Tiny Games I thought it would mean H&S would be sustained for the future too. I hope you all get fabulous jobs and keep playing games! x

  • On 26 Nov 2013, lucy said:

    Gutted that you are having to take this decision… you are hugely admired by many folk x

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Kevan said:

    A sad day. You built a lot of good things and encouraged a lot of good people. I think the inaugural Journey to the End of the Night still stands up as my strongest memory of Hide&Seek – an astonishing introduction to a London I was still learning to navigate, and the possibilities of building games over the top of pre-existing city streets. Good luck with whatever’s next.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Anna Higgs said:

    Incredibly sad news that a team and a company so innovative, engaging and adventurous must close at a time when we all need more playful and collaborative approaches to the work we all do in the cultural sector.

    As a partner and a player, I want to celebrate the brilliant work that Alex, Margaret and the whole H&S team have dreamed, devised and delivered over the years – and state here that you have been, and shall continue to be in all sorts of ways, a huge inspiration to me.

    Thank you guys and good luck. While it may seem like an uncertain future right now, I’m completely sure that you’ll all be doing amazing things that inspire us all, whatever the next steps in your journey.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Dave Addey said:

    Really sorry to hear that it just isn’t viable to be Hide&Seek in 2013. I had a very similar dilemma this summer with my company, leading to http://agant.com/whatnext , so you have my complete and utter sympathy. It’s very sad to hear that you won’t be making brilliant things together any more – I still use the Board Game Remix Kit today, three years after its release.

    The only consolation: I’m sure that everyone will find new things to be doing very soon. Best of luck to all of you – Hide&Seek will be missed!

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Damien Di Fede said:

    Oh man this is a huge bummer! I really enjoyed meeting y’all last year in Paris and enjoyed the set of games y’all made for Joue le Jeu. It’s been cool seeing all the other creative things you’ve done since then. I hope everyone lands on their feet and continues making great art!

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Simon Katan said:

    So sad to see you guys close. I have so many happy memories, friends and games from Sandpits and Weekenders. I never would have ventured into game design if it wasn’t for an email from you in 2008.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Roanne Dods said:

    So so so so sad to hear. You and Wapping Project in one month. Two of the most innovative organisations I know, both traversing across the ‘creative industries’ with a cultural artistic sensibility of depth, fun and integrity. I dont think I can bear it.

    It says something. I dont know what yet. But it is something we all who really care about forward thinking innovation in the arts need to really address.

    I, for one, will always think of you as a model for how we should work and the quality of work we should be doing. I hope we will see you make more work in our world at some point.

    Much love to you and your team for such fantastic inspiration, talent development and quality.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Laura Berman said:

    Oh so sad…. I have a new job and was really looking forward to finally having the budget to get in touch with you Alex and do something together…. Hide and Seek was very very special. I am sure you will all go on to do more fascinating projects. Good luck!

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Stephen said:

    I remember rushing around the Southbank, pretending to be a spy, decoding secret messages hidden in a book of poems, forming a team with complete strangers, and generally having a whale of a time.

    I also remember running around St James’ Park with a tripod like thing and a camcorder, chasing and hiding, but mainly laughing, and having a good time.

    Thanks for the happy memories.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Rosie Poebright said:

    2007 Hide & Seek festival -> my FIRST EVER STREETGAME. Manila. Brown envelopes, rendezvous, spies across London. It changed my life.

    Splash & Ripple are the illegitimate progeny of that experience.

    The other side of the circle: in 2012 with your help we made Incitement, the H&S weekender headline game, which lit up the Southbank and had 100′s chanting to overthrow authority under Waterloo bridge. A proper job full on theatrical streetgame. Such a proud proud moment.

    Now I make adventures for a living.

    For this I thank you all. XX

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Eric Hedaa said:

    Such a bummer.

    It doesn’t feel like it when you’re going through it, but creative destruction frees brilliant people to do even more amazing things.

    Best of luck to the H&S team as they find their new endeavors.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, ian fraser said:

    I think big congrats are in order. Striking off and doing your own thing is such an amazing leap of faith and you guys have so many successes to look back on. You created a tons of great games and active communities that inspired us to no end here I n the US. We sure couldn’t figure out how to run a business in the uk.

    I fondly remenber the Hat Game at SXSW in 2009. Specifically getting followed into south Austin by sone goons who wanted the hat. That was awesome.

    Cheers to all your guys’ fantastic work and bestof luck in the future.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Gerry said:

    That is incredibly sad news, but also hopeful news – why hopeful? Because you are bowing out with your heads held high, you are being honest and courageous in the face of adversity and you’re honouring and owning the work you’ve done together and allowing things to evolve. It’s hopeful because you’ve given everyone (including me) a lesson in how to run a creative agency with integrity and deal with adversity graciously. It’s a crap analogy but you’re like a brilliant band that made some fantastic music together, made a lot of people happy and changed and (opened) a lot of minds to the possibilities of game playing what it can be, what it should be and what it can do for all of us. I remember the wonderful meetings we had together (so sorry that they didnt result in business for you) and your ROH game launch night which was magical. I remember playing your games on the Southbank and talking to you all about your projects and plans, sharing a sly ciggie on Hatton Wall and thinking what an inspiring and talented bunch of people you all are. I salute you one and all and know that you’re all destined for great things. xx

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Mink ette said:

    This is such sad news, not only did you guys make great work as an agency, but the festival and sandpits started so much. The community that formed around then really legitimatised the scene in a way and encouraged so many fledgling game designers and artists.
    I’m honoured to have been there at the start of that first festival. I too can say that my game design career was nudged into being by Hide and Seek.
    Good luck for the future all of you!

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Marc Vosuden said:

    I can’t even remember how I first heard about hide&seek, just that the first thing I played was a test run of visible cities in St James park. As a rabid evangelist for games as social lubricant the Hide&Seek name will live on in countless conversations with people I have yet to meet.

    There is one thing I want to say though. This is a call to arms. Pat Kane’s talk at Playing In Public rings true now – It’s time to take the amazing spectacles you have created and fashion carnival in their honor.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Myles said:

    A fan from the US here saying cheers and thanks for all your great work. A proud funder of your Kickstarter campaign, I use your Tiny Games app all the time, everywhere I go and everyone I play with is impressed and pleased at the level of skill and design on display.

    Played the game with the alphabet spinner at a party with the group who was huddled round the fire pit, who were skeptical about games: especially, the hostess, who is very introverted (but married to someone who loves games and parties). While the few of us who were playing the game intently were struggling to find something starting with P in the direction the pointer was indicating, the introverted hostess muttered, “Plank. Wood plank.” She was right and scored a point. We all cheered and high-fived her.

    That’s the most I’ve ever seen her play a game. Thanks for giving us, and her, that experience.

    Look forward to seeing what you’re doing next.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Tom Dolan said:

    Folks, what terrible news. My heart goes out to you all.

    Best of luck in all that follows, and may cashflow never worry you in future ventures!

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Marcus said:

    Even for someone, who was only ever able to observe your work from afar, that´s really sad :/

    Best of luck for all future endavors!

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Emily said:

    Very sad news :-( loved your southbank summer series of tiny games. I often find myself playing ‘must marry forever someone instinctively chosen in the next 100 people’ when bored in public spaces. Best of luck to the team for their next steps.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Scurra said:

    “What we’ve found is that hard-to-categorise thing about us – that diversity, that public-spiritedness, that cultural curiosity – is hard for the market to value.”
    This, a gazillion times. I’ve been there too, and it’s horrible. All credit to all of you for the hard work you put in to leave a legacy to be proud of, even if that’s not the way you wanted to go out. One day people will realise that the intangible benefits of things like H&S are worth far more than the actual physical costs. But, it seems, not yet.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Silke said:

    This is such sad news. You guys are so special and I hope that the ethos of Hide and Seek lives on in whatever you all do next! May there be a successful and playful future ahead! Thanks for letting me design silly games for you and thank you for all the fond memories, amazing people I have met and most of all the fun that is still to come as I hope to also keep the spirit of H&S alive by continuing to play wherever I go! X

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Hasan Bakhshi said:

    Very sorry to see H&S go under. “While there is a rhetoric of governmental support for the creative industries, and for cultural organisations that innovate, our experience of funders has been one of diminishing returns.” That’s a very clear message to funders and policymakers.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Jen Toksvig said:

    Heart, broken.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Kate said:

    Shocked, stunned and saddened.
    Such brilliant creative thinkers. Really innovative work.
    Thank you for helping to bring play and games to Margate.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Emily Guille-Marrett said:

    Just heard this sad news via Kate Kneale from Marine Studios, Margate. I really enjoyed being part of the games Hide&Seek brought to the GEEK festival in Margate earlier this year. Fond memories of punching custard! Good luck to everyone for the future.

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Game Toilet Guy said:

    Sad & shitty news – But you can’t keep smart fellows like your team out of the picture for long – I look forward to see what you all do next, I am sure it will be most excellent.

    Memories wise, I enjoyed the H&S curated talks down the Queen Liz hall, and thank you for letting me mine-sweep the uneaten sandwiches x

  • On 26 Nov 2013, Tim M said:

    Very sad news indeed. I was fooling around with games along these lines, and asked a friend if they knew of anyone doing something similar, and they mentioned Hide & Seek. I went to Sandpit 13 in 2009 and it blew my mind. In 2012, inspired, encouraged and supported by H&S over the years, I formed a small gaming partnership, ran two games at Sandpits, a corporate game event, and a bunch of other crazy things. The heartbreaking part was that my father attended some of these events and so I ended up seeing him a lot more than usual – and he passed away unexpectedly at the end of that year. I appreciated H&S’s existence for all of these reasons and more, and hope you all go on to even more incredible things.

  • On 27 Nov 2013, Paul said:

    Weekenders, Sandpits, custard-punching, Dadaist Pursuit… I have so many memories and they’re all fantastic. Really sad to read this – I wish every one of you all the best for the future and hope to see more of your amazing and unique creativity emerging from the ashes of H&S.

  • On 27 Nov 2013, Gillian Morrison said:

    It’s at times like this that the market rationalists really annoy me. You are so much ahead of your time as a group, it’s just the small studio model that is the killer. I hope a product model or education model might see you afloat sometime in the not-so-distant future, even as a different incarnation. Horribly brutal for you all now though – do play Aretha Franklin’s “I will survive” on loop in the office:)

  • On 27 Nov 2013, Tam said:

    Hi Alex – really sorry to hear this news. You’re spot on about the political rhetoric on the creative industries. Since New Labour came in people have been encouraged by the government into the “creative industries” and despite Cameron’s pledges to support the sector as a growth industry more and more people like yourselves are dropping out because of the lack of funding and support. It’s going to get worse….we need minds like yours to start a revolution!

  • On 27 Nov 2013, Adam Hoyle said:

    From the many sandpits, including those at the legendary Shunt, up to Tiny Games, you guys have always innovated and produced really amazing games. I am really sad you won’t be part of the picture in 2014, but I look forward to the adventures of the Hide & Seek diaspora and all of the awesome you will bring to the world in the future.

  • On 27 Nov 2013, Emma said:

    This is such sad news, but I know that your creative energy and sense of fun and adventure will go into lots of exciting stuff. Helping to install Tiny Games around London last summer was one of the most fun random freelance jobs I’ve ever had. I’m grateful to have been around for a very small part of what you guys did. It made the world a bit more joyful.

  • On 27 Nov 2013, Caitlin said:

    Ah man!

    I am so sorry to hear this.

    Alex, working with you in 2008 – 2009 left a lasting and inspired impression on me, and I have continued to talk about Hide and Seek, and the merits and unionising wonders of site specific, city wide play forever since then.

    Indeed, times are hard; respect to you all for growing, expanding and gaining the reputation and acknowledgement you so have over the past 4 – 5 years. It’s been a tough time.

    So raise glasses, and wipe dem tears; here’s to the Hide and Seek diaspora, the flow of intelligence and commitment to those hard to describe, culturally amorphous forms; the wide / participatory / tiny game.

    Good luck and your legacy is sure to outlive the sadness.


  • On 28 Nov 2013, Nancy Richards said:

    Oh Alex – life and experience eh, bugger! Bon chance and much love for all that lies ahead….xxx

  • On 28 Nov 2013, Claudio Pires Franco said:

    When will innovative, positive, different projects actually get a chance to survive in these times?! Frustrating.
    Alex and all, keep the spirit alive guys, you’re an awesome creative, positive human force! A breeze of fresh air in the sea of digital!

  • On 28 Nov 2013, kate raynes-goldie said:

    it’s all a bad dream right? i am crying in my soup

    what will happen to tiny games and the weekender?

  • On 28 Nov 2013, @termacora said:

    alex you know i dont think it has to be so tragic. you’re going greek! lets see if we cant geek up a plan of some sorts…
    at least keep it is a project ‘operation pheonix’. lets dine again soon. with care as a friend and ex gamer who sees this as a new cultural pivot for a generation of tech+art lovers wishfully unscathed by the blandness of commercial shite out there making it and brainwashing people like TV used to. this deserves to be an impass with light at the end avoiding us a remorseful cultural abyss

  • On 29 Nov 2013, Andrew Birley said:

    I remember my first experience of a Hide&Seek event, it was at the V&A on 26 March 2010. 5000 people came to play that evening, but for me it is the individual stories that really stand out. I was working on the reception desk, and a rather bewildered museum-goer approached me to find out “what on earth is going on?”

    After a brief explanation and encouragement to sign up for a few games, said bewilderee wandered tentatively into the throng. Ten minutes later I saw them again, this time with a look of glorious glee spread across their face as they hurtled past us, skidded round the corner and disappeared. I never did find out what particular game they were playing…but it looked bloody brilliant.

    And that pretty much sums up Hide&Seek for me. So Alex, Margaret, Holly and co…thanks for all of that.

  • On 29 Nov 2013, Matt Adams said:

    How to add to the many tributes to your work?

    Firstly, I remember very clearly when the first Sandpits were happening. You brought a buzz, a sense of possibility and an intelligent, enquiring sense of fun. Suddenly there seemed to be a new army of game players and makers.
    And, Alex, as an advocate you became a very powerful voice for games as an important form of culture. Margaret and Holly, you are two too fantastic games nerds.The Playmakers film that Ivo Gormley made will stand as a great document for the scene in the UK at the time.

    Finally, you helped make the UK globally renowned for our ability to spawn small groups of interdisciplinary tricksters working between the lines of art and play, the commercial and the cultural.

    I look forward to what you all do next, Matt

  • On 29 Nov 2013, Sam Conniff said:

    It’s 2008 (or 9) and we’re once again trying to invent some new way of marrying a major corporates interests with making a difference in young peoples lives through their brand and not their CSR..

    And for once we were stumped.

    There was a buzz around ‘gamification’ or other words we didn’t quite get, and I’m sure Alex and Margaret would rather me not use, but the word we used when we discovered Hide & Seek was ‘the f*ing answer’ and they were.

    I emailed the site and Alex called me back from a cafe having his breakfast and I thought we’d get on, when he had me and one of my most cynical colleagues and friends running through the streets and being werewolves a few weeks later i was sure.

    For three years we worked collaboratively and imaginatively with one of the worlds best known Brands, Sony PlayStation, who together we had to force to think differently, openly and without doubt Hide&Seek taught one of the biggest names in games, a thing or two, and along the way had a significant impact on the lives of a number of young people, and made some great games too.

    It was hard, it was uphill and there was some heavy lifting not to mention corporate counter intuitive ‘complexities’ to overcome, but we did, and we did it together and we won.

    I’m sorry to see part one of Hide&Seek come to an end, but you’re doing the right thing, conserve your energy, there’s a lot more to come on the foundations you’ve created, the imaginations you’ve ignited and the dice you’ve started rolling…

    Congratulations to everyone who’s been involved in what you’ve created, and what will live on. And for now, wrapping up with your heads held high is a business success that many successful businesses fail to achieve.

  • On 29 Nov 2013, Jane Burton said:

    … Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that you’re winding up, though I’m quite sure you’ll all be back doing creative and wonderful things (that hopefully make money) very soon. I’m really proud of Tate Trumps, which you dreamt up when I challenged you to create a mobile game to play around the collection at Tate Modern. Good luck Alex and all at team H&S – I’m looking forward to seeing what you do next!

  • On 29 Nov 2013, Gary Campbell said:

    Is it my twisted memory or did we manage to get Alex down to his underpants during Ping pong quiz show at the ICA?

    For that image [ be it true or false ] and countless other fond and twisted memories.

    I thank you Hide and Seek.

    I also appauld the dignity and integrity of your exit..

    bon chance! with what ever comes next



  • On 30 Nov 2013, Tom Uglow said:

    Hi Alex, hi team.
    Just wanted to say that we’re sorry to hear this news – everyone at Google’s Creative Lab has been influenced by Hide & Seek, through your philosophy, and belief in play, but particularly the great ideas that *actually happened* – conjured out of thin air via pure, scrappy, innovation. So I raise a large glass in praise and celebration. Well done. Good luck. Call me if you reach Sydney.

  • On 30 Nov 2013, Lottie said:

    Dear all – such very sad news – Hide & Seek has been a beacon of creativity, integrity and artistic vision where so few agencies even aspire to one of those values. Working with you guys on DOYL and other craziness has definitely been a highlight and I have always used the way you work as an example to others of how to get the best from people on every level. Enthusiasm, integrity, innovation and genuinely believing that anything and everything is possible with the right folk – we can only hope that you’ve rubbed off on loads of people along the way, and I’m sure you have. Long live the spirit of Hide & Seek and good luck! L

  • On 2 Dec 2013, Willem said:

    Hi all,

    Sad news to read this morning, I came across H&S at the 2nd Playful event and attended a few weekender game events before leaving London and have followed from afar a bunch of initiatives you launched, including Tiny Games (thanks for the coasters!). I thought you did fascinating work over the past few years and it looks like you really breathed some fresh air and new ideas in several environments, including arts, corporate events, and communications / marketing / advertising. It’s a shame that doesn’t carry you financially any longer…

    Good luck for the future to everyone in the team, let’s hope you all go bring some new ideas for gaming in whichever companies you join next!


  • On 2 Dec 2013, Hayden said:

    Dear Alex and Margaret -

    Very sorry to hear this news. I will fondly remember our jams.


  • On 2 Dec 2013, Rosie Strang said:

    My heart swells with immense love and pride thinking about you all at Hide&Seek- you are like a beacon of the best joyus, thought provoking, connected, innovative and beautiful work I have ever known.

    Great memories of early sandpits, and helping create epic weekenders and UK tour – flashbacks of game players smuggling living furniture through the dark tunnels under London bridge, emo kids rugby tackling a huge grandma puppet on the Southbank, and the sheer jubilant joy that was the finale of Moviehouse – darth vader masks, random security, flying popcorn and all. And Alex, I will never forget you running the full length of the Royal Festival Hall ballroom with the biggest roll of carpet I have ever seen to win that game of checkpoint!

    Big love to you all. I wish you all the very best in your next ventures. May the spirit of H&S continue onwards….

    XRosie xx

  • On 3 Dec 2013, Nadaav said:

    Very sad to hear this news. Through the weekenders and sandpits I met some really amazing people, had a bag of fun and some great ideas. I even designed a game for Penguin myself. I am so sad to read that you are closing. If the sector leaders cannot make a viable financial model, it’s a sad sign for something we are supposed to cherish.

    Good luck and stay in touch.

  • On 4 Dec 2013, Manar said:

    There’s so much to say it’s hard to know where to start and how far to blab. Sat on it for a while and I have three over-riding emotions that persisted:

    Gratitude: I came back to London in 2007 after 4 years away and was eager for fresh, new and fun. Hide & Seek delivered. Really delivered. So many happy memories, awesome fun, brilliant people… at times it was borderline surreal. I’m profoundly grateful to Hide & Seek for that joy.

    Sadness: it’s over. It’s been a long run so it seems almost churlish to be anything other than grateful but darn it’s just sad to see.

    Awe: Hide & Seek did more than put on the most amazing events and run/design the most fabulous games. They nurtured an entire ecosystem that barely existed before they got going. Not just in the UK. So much non Hide & Seek awesomeness has happened that simply would not have been, and so much more will happen as a result of their work. True trailblazers; the legacy is much more than just amazing memories.

    THANK YOU Guys&Gals: you are amazing and it was a joy to play with you.

    Manar. xx

  • On 6 Dec 2013, Phil Hellary said:

    I’ve only just heard the news and I’m shocked and saddened. There are 62 comments above mine that are far more eloquent than I could be in hailing Hide&Seek’s brilliance so I’ll just say that my short stint at Hide&Seek was absolutely fantastic and I loved being a part of such a creative and vibrant company. All the best to you all. I’m sure there’ll be some really exciting stuff coming in the new year for all of you, you’re all such gems!


  • On 9 Dec 2013, Ben Templeton said:

    I remember when I first heard it was possible to play games…outdoors!

    I remember when I first heard of a company called Hide & Seek.

    Bugger, I thought. They’re going to smash it. And you bloody well did.

    We’ve watched from way out west in the Den with a curious mix of fear and huge admiration for the work you pioneered. Fear because we couldn’t hope to match it, admiration because we really wanted to.

    Your legacy lives on not just in the incredible team behind Hide & Seek (who will start a new adventure) but in all the companies you’ve inspired, not least of those is Thought Den. This lot also spring to mind: Slingshot Effect, Splash & Ripple, Mobile Pie, Calvium and many other Bristol businesses.

    G’luck to you all going forwards, from those at Thought Den who share your pain!

  • On 11 Dec 2013, Dan Shute said:

    That is heart-breaking – you guys are amazing, and the world doesn’t deserve you. Gutted.

  • On 11 Dec 2013, Rob Wilson said:

    Really sad to hear this Alex as someone who was there when it all began. Hope you are also appreciating yourself for making it happen for so Long and all the amazing things you have achieved along the way. Sadly I won’t be able to make it tomoz night as I live in Sussex these days and did my london day today. Wishing you a beautiful future. Big love Rob x

  • On 13 Dec 2013, Adrian Slatcher said:

    Hi Alex
    just wanted to add to the comments, that I’m sorry to hear this, always enjoyed working with you guys on AmbITion and have kept an eye on what you’ve been doing since.

    Its a shame that its not been sustainable but I’m sure you and your team will continue to do great things. If you’re ever back up in Manchester please get in touch.


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