On July 19th, we presented a game at the Come Out and Play festival in Governor's Island in New York City. This was a juried festival where about 20 large-scale games were presented for people to play for free. On July 18th on Friday night, there were games involving screens and lights.
For example, there was Light Fight, where teams of players moved around a maze of boxes trying to capture their opponents' feet in the beam of their hand-held flashlight:
The game that we offered up was called Prey, where 5 players would attempt to wrap each other in rope without being wrapped up in rope.
The idea for the game came from wanting to create a game that gave you the physical sense of losing as you were losing the game. In this case, as you got further wrapped in the rope, you knew you were losing. The game ended when one or more people were wrapped in the rope.
One of the reasons I went was that I wanted to see how this kind of open play festival runs so that I could facilitate one myself. I learned a few lessons about games that were more successful:
- Be a spectacle. My game had nothing but a 60-foot piece of marked rope, so there wasn't much to see when the game wasn't being played. On the other hand, I felt good about developing a new game using nothing more than a piece of rope.
- Handle a variety of player numbers. Games that could bring in a bunch of players created an "event" when those players were engaged with the game. My game ended up creating an event because the players were unpredictable as to which way they would move, so we had to watch for spectators.
- Have a quick explanation. One of the comments I consistently got with my game is that it was very easy to learn. A game that was too complex would frustrate players and require significant facilitation.
- Be in a boundaried space. Since our game was next to other games, and had no "out of bounds", we had to watch the players and keep them from colliding into the next game.
- Don't hurt players. One of the problems with PREY was that people could fall down, as they were being tied quickly with rope. One rule was that the round ended if anyone fell, but players didn't always see the other players. I tried to be quick on the whistle if I saw this happening, but a few times, someone ended up taking a surprise fall or being drug across the grass.
I'll close this post with a funny video where the videographer, Ai-Ling Loo, didn't realize the game was heading her way!