James Wallis levels with you

A Hiding to Nothing?

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 won’t go into too much detail about the organisation and structure of the whole thing, because I don’t want to come over as a know-it-all wise after the fact. But I will say that if you’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 “Pervasive Games are the new Punk Rock”. No, they’re not. Don’t be silly. Punk was about spontaneity, ease of access, low barriers to entry and rebellion. It was about this
Now form a band
and this

It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it

It was about doing it for yourself. It wasn’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 ‘punk’ 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 (functioning as NPCs, to use an RPG term). In the event it fell between… ah, but I said I wouldn’t go there.

Though it’s worth noting thatif anyone’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.

Tomorrow: GaMES

Categorised as: game design | street games

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