Today’s design blog is about game literacy, and its effect on physical games. Our goal is that everyone who plays our game enjoys it – that means it has to be rich and rewarding enough for the hardcore gamers, and comprehensible and accessible to newbies. Because the game takes place in physical space, and is intended to run without too much human intervention, we don’t have the EASY / MEDIUM / HARD option. Instead, we have to integrate difficulty settings into the physical elements of the game…
When we playtested the Smells course, we built a long, linear route for people to progress along. You can see it in this video:
So, a lucky team from Hide&Seek arrived in Paris yesterday. We’re here for the next month, completing the design and installation of The Building Is... our new game commission for Joue le Jeu, la Gâité Lyrique’s summer festival. It feels really important to document the making of this game, so we’re going to do that here.
There’s so much to write about, and artist process blogs can be a bit tl;dr if you’re not careful. So – here’s the rules. 250 words a day, on a different topic, with pictures and practical examples.
Okay here goes. Word count starts now!
Drunk Dungeon really came about because I was trying to solve an age-old live game problem: getting a roomful of people into teams.
Getting people into teams is hard, on almost every level – conceptual, practical, functional. There’s a whole other blog post to be written on why, and people better qualified than me to write it. But, broadly speaking, you need teams that are equally appealing (or you’ll get an uneven split, which you usually don’t want), teams that resonate with people enough that they care, (but not so specific that they feel they’ve got no choice), and that you can visually communicate effectively and cheaply and pleasantly. It’s *hard*. We spent longer designing the teams for the New Year Games than almost any other individual element.
Friday night saw the debut of Drunk Dungeon, a game commissioned by the NYU Game Center for their annual No Quarter event. There’s a nice preview of the evening from curator Charles Pratt here, but I wanted to write my own quick introduction to the world’s most ornate drinking game.
Drunk Dungeon was conceived as an ambient party game. The concept is explained on the right, or you can read more detailed rules here. I wanted to make something that reflected No Quarter’s unique atmosphere – here’s beer, there’s conversation, there’s an audience of world-class game experts mixed up with curious newcomers.
This Wednesday, thirty designers and players and interested strangers came to the Hide&Seek office to talk about this year’s Sandpits and Weekender, our playing and playtesting events for new games. Thank you so much to everyone who came – we’re still processing all your suggestions and feedback, and trying to figure out what to keep and what to change and how things will work this year.
We’ll be absorbing all of this and working out what we should change, what can be different in time for the Sandpit on 25 May, and what needs to happen over a longer timespan. For those of you who were interested but couldn’t come, these are the main things we talked about, and our initial notes from discussions… if you have anything to add, or think something below is a great or a terrible idea, then please do comment!
Over the next week or so, we’re going to publish a series of short posts about what we mean by Games with Audiences, by calling out some of that games that particularly inspired us when we were deciding on this year’s theme. That list includes:
So we’ll get to all of those soon! But for now, a game that has had nothing to do with Sandpit (SO FAR), the mighty IGF-nominated global folk game megahit, Johann Sebastian Joust.
In August we’ll be running a free afternoon of games for families – games that different age groups can play together, that work for adults and children. We’ll be confirming a date for the event soon.
Come along to Holland Park from 2:00-6:00pm on Monday 18 June, for a free afternoon of games around the themes of movement and spectacle. There’ll be games with picnic blankets, processions down the pathways, music, deck chairs, banting, walking tours and much more.
Come along to the Southbank Centre from 6:30-10:00 on Monday 18 June, for a free evening of games around the theme of performance. There’ll be games with music, games with dance and movement, games with theatre – and games that get the players performing, drumming, reading aloud, dancing and more. We’re still designing and curating games for the evening, but among others, there’ll be:
Come along to the Southbank Centre from 6:30-10:00 on Friday 25 May, for a free evening of games – new sports, reimagined game shows, competitive commentary, pen-and-paper pursuits, and much more.
There’ll be games to play and games to watch, games with comperes, and secret games hidden in corners. There’ll be scheduled games (book places from 6:30), games where the audience plays a role, and games you can just turn up to.
On 2 May we’ll be holding an open discussion group to talk about our upcoming series of Sandpits – public playing and playtesting events where designers and artists try out new game ideas. If you’re interested in being involved – either as a designer, or a player who wants to help make the events better – then do come along and let us know what you think.
Book a space on Eventbrite if you’re coming, so we know how many people to expect!
So, you may have already seen that we’ll be running a series of game events in London this summer – and that we’re calling on YOU YES YOU to be involved: to play things, to make things, to help us improve, to invite other people to come along, to wave flags or plot or hide or run or draw or throw balloons from distant balconies.
Here’s another announcement that we’re bursting with excitement about: Sandpits and the Weekender are back!
The Sandpit is a space where anyone (including YOU) can experiment with new ideas for games that take place in public spaces – a place where players, artists, game designers, makers and thinkers of every stripe can get together, play stuff, and talk. They feel like big parties to us. We love them! They look like this.
The Sandpit series will culminate in the Hide&Seek Weekender at the Southbank Centre on 14-16 September – a weekend-long festival filled with games that were developed through the Sandpit, running alongside playful work around the world.
This summer, Hide&Seek will be playing in Paris.
We’re so excited to be able to announce our involvement with the upcoming exhibition Joue le Jeu at La Gaîté Lyrique, an amazing institution that opened in 2010, devoted to exploring digital culture. Their big summer exhibition this year will fill the building with astonishing games: a stupendous installation from Fred Deakin & Company, a gorgeous social strategy game from Eric Zimmerman and Nathalie Pozzi, a charmingly bewildering construction from Babycastles, and so much more… including our own The Building Is.
For those of you who are in Austin, Texas enjoying the varied delights of SXSW, we’re pleased to announce that the launch of Would Anyone Miss You is now just 24 hours away! Here’s a photo from our amazing collaborator, Lottie Davies, of a crucial part of the game. All will be explained very soon… [...]