There’s going to be over thirty-five games in total, which is a lot of games to try to explain in a newsletter or a tweet, so I thought that until the Weekender, I might write a bit about one of the games each day: what it’s like, how you play, who designed it, why we’re so excited to have it as part of the Weekender.
And the best place to start is probably with the biggest game on the Ballroom floor, sat in place throughout the weekend: Viviane Schwarz’s Treasure Maze.
Treasure Maze is a massive winding installation and a game all in one. The game itself is simple – collect treasure in the maze while avoiding the roaming shark. There are safe places in the maze where you can shelter, and of course you can always leave the maze, if you can find the way – but if the shark gets you before you make it out, then all the treasure you’ve collected is lost. So when you play there’s a classic balancing act between sticking around and collecting more treasure, or getting out while it’s safe instead of risking everything you’ve accomplished so far.
It’s a game that children and adults can play together on a pretty even basis, which is rare – adults might be better on average at plotting and doubling back, but kids can get into the safe spaces much more easily.
What really makes the game special, though, is the physicality of it – squeezing through corridors, crawling into safe caves, feeling the burr of movement as other players move past on the other side of a corrugated cardboard wall (or is it the shark?). And for this run of the game, the maze is going to be gorgeous. When Viviane isn’t making massive cardboard constructions, she’s a writer and illustrator of books, mostly for children, and she’s going to be decorating and painting sea-creatures over the maze, just for the festival. I can’t wait to see it.
By the way, if anyone wants an awful lot of partly-stencilled cardboard – perhaps a school? – we’re going to have a lot going spare come 6pm on Sunday the 16th…
Treasure Maze will be running in the Clore Ballroom throughout the Weekender.