Friday, July 8, 2011

Birthday Week!: Grammy Edition

This week is birthday week, where about 50% of my family officially gets older. My grandmother Ruthe is the only one to have her birthday on a day that is not divisible by 3. Forewarning: I am *exhausted* and likely to be goes!

Have I told you about the theatre project I'm doing? It's a site specific devised theatre piece/game for the opening festival of a new youth arts venue near Finsbury Park. We're working with a bunch of teenagers from the neighboring estate. It's a fun project in a lot of ways, but particularly exciting for me because I am listed in all the programmes and flyers as a game designer. Or games consultant, or something like that. It makes me feel hip and cool and like I seem like I know what I'm talking about.

Last month I went to Bristol for igFest (The Interesting Games Festival) it was pretty spectacular and involved a three hour long chase game through the centre of town on a Saturday night where you had to avoid getting eaten by zombies (or crashing into the truly remarkable number of becostumed hen and stag nights wandering the town and getting into fights).

The pièce de résistance was running away from zombies in an empty mall. I had an epic moment where I was climbing backwards up a down escalator in order to stay in once place because I needed to avoid the zombies milling around both the bottom and the top of the escalator. I eventually got caught about 20 meters away from the final safe zone, which was excellent because it meant that I got to have a face full of zombie makeup for the after party. 

City Dash
I also helped to run two games- one for fire-hazard and one for hide & seek. Fire-hazard's game involved having a map and codes stickered to the players' front and back. The players snuck around the city centre using their maps to find small, hidden stickers with codes to text in for points while avoiding guards who would text in the players chest plate codes to take away points. It is our most tech heavy game and it went off surprisingly well. We ran it twice; the first day I was a guard and the second day I bossed people around. (The pictures are of me bossing people around.) The running of the game mostly involves tracking the course of the game in order to recalibrate it half way through if needed, so I spent the 45 minutes or so that it was running after everyone had their stickers and their texts all set up hunkered down in the corner of an alleyway that led to a lovely covered market, staring at the computer and clicking "refresh." I think I prefer the bossing people around aspect.

Hide & Seek's game was about ceilidhs and involved dancing, trading ribbons, and running away from "Evil Morris Dancers." My role there was mostly to be bossy (yay!) and instruct people in how to weave  between each other while doing the dance. It was a great deal of fun and also involved a pair of bemused musicians who remained reticent when asked whether this was the weirdest gig they'd ever done. 

On the last day of the festival (I make it sound like this big thing, but it was just a weekend) there was a game designers brunch to discuss questions about what we do. Er, they do. I wanted to go, but wasn't sure if it was really something I was part of (Casey, you were there with TWO games companies. Shut up) but having crashed in my friend Holly's hotel room after the zombie game (I needed a shower and the person I was staying with was heavily pregnant and far away and it was very late and oh my gosh the water flowed pink from all of the fake blood/zombie makeup) she and I went to the brunch together. 

At first I stayed quiet, listening carefully to other people. Then someone asked about fire-hazard and I wasn't sure if I should really answer the question or not because it isn't *my* company and I'm not 100% privy to Gwyn's plans for it. But blah blah blah by the end of the meeting I was yabbering away like a talkative macaw. 

At some point recently Gwyn and I were planning/hanging out and recalled a rumor that Jane McGonigal's book Reality is Broken had a chapter about our friend Kevan, so we tried to get an ebook copy to see if we could find it, but that was kind of a pain and whatever system for reading ebooks that Gwyn had downloaded didn't have a search function so we were just randomly scrolling through the book. This was remarkably ineffectual in terms of finding Kevan, but did mean that I noticed a picture of a bunch of people jumping down some stairs,

"Hey, Gwyn?"
"Isn't that you over on the right?"

With two fire-hazard members now confirmed as being in the book; we decided that Gwyn would buy the book, send it to me, and I would mark it all up and then report back. The first three steps of that process happened...Sorry, Gwyn. 

I've just noticed that on the last page I've written and underlined, "Superfly" which I think is a good shorthand for how I feel about this book. Some of the pages aren't underlined! I got chatty in the margins and circled a lot of things. 

My friend Josh and I have teamed up to design some games for Hide & Seek's next 'sandpit' game testing session in a week's time. We've worked on about 5, only one of which is going to be used for this  Sandpit, but hopefully more of them will see the light of day in August.

So the point: starting with the second day of Bristol and the brunch and developing through working with Josh and getting hired to be a game designer/consultant for the theatre project and continuing to work with both Holly and Gwyn...I'm starting to feel like this is something I can say I do. 

Bossing people with my hands full
Bossing people with a ridiculous expression on my face

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Casey, I loved it and understand your games better. Love to yiou. You look very happy and having fun. Grammy