So Hide and Seek the pervasive games festival happened over the weekend. It was a shame it was such a rainy, vile three days for it. But people seemed to have a good time regardless. And it was interesting to see a games event organised by a group with a primarily theatrical background rather than a more pure game-based approach (I have to wonder how Mind Candy would have done an event like this.)
I wonâ€™t go into too much detail about the organisation and structure of the whole thing, because I donâ€™t want to come over as a know-it-all wise after the fact. But I will say that if youâ€™re organising a four-hour game that takes over a hundred players on a chase across London and finishes with a party on the Thames beach below the Festival Pier, you should read the tide tables to check the beach will actually be there.
The last event was a debate about whether â€œPervasive Games are the new Punk Rockâ€. No, theyâ€™re not. Donâ€™t be silly. Punk was about spontaneity, ease of access, low barriers to entry and rebellion. It was about this
It was about doing it for yourself. It wasnâ€™t about getting a grant from the Jerwood Charitable Foundation and putting on a three-day event at the BFI. Pervasive games of this kind have a huge and inherent divide between organiser and audience/players, which is completely anti-punk. Journey to the End of Night could have been a completely autonomous, self-running, more â€˜punkâ€™ experience if the organisers had made the chasers simply a different class of player; or it could have been all about the play-experience if the chasers had been more tightly co-ordinated and briefed (functioningÂ as NPCs, toÂ use an RPG term). In the event it fell between… ah, but I said I wouldnâ€™t go there.
Though itâ€™s worth noting thatif anyoneâ€™s got a cool arty game-project they want to get off the ground the Jerwood Foundation seems to be a soft touch for funding.