I love playing games and wish I had the time to play more. Video games, board games, running-around-blindfolded games (I’ll come to that later), I’m a sucker for it all. Suffice to say, the Hide & Seek Festival last weekend was right up my alley.
The Hide and Seek festival is an annual event in London, where people come together to play and talk about games. It celebrates the creative and social aspects of gaming and they invite artists and professionals from all disciplines to experiment with game design. Hosted at the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank, the festival is a couple of days of pure social gaming pleasure, harking back to the unfettered fun of childhoods past.
I couldn’t find the time to spend the whole weekend at the festival, so I had to decide between the Saturday and the Sunday. I chose Sunday, cause the games seems somewhat funner and less spots were taken for them. I would have loved to have gone both days, but this year that just wasn’t possible. I did however go to the Werewolf gathering on Friday night, which was a lot of fun.
I didn’t get to play as much games as I’d like, but the games I did play were great. I’ll try to write a bit about each of them (and also one I didn’t get to play, but is unique enough to talk about).
Ever since my first Werewolf night (got dragged to it by Cristiano, I had no idea what I was getting myself into), I’ve been a huge fan and with all the BarCamps I’ve been going to, I’m proud to say I’m a pretty good player. If you don’t know the rules, check out the Werewolf wiki. In short: group of Villagers with a couple (2-3) hidden Werewolves (and maybe extra characters, like the Healer or the Seer). At night everybody has their eyes closed, the Werewolves kill someone. During the day the Villagers have to figure out who the Werewolves are and lynch someone. Game is over if all the Werewolves or all the Villagers are dead. The game revolves around talking; if nobody talks the game just doesn’t work. For me, it really helped to become (a little bit) more outspoken, cause you do have to be a bit blunt if you want to get your point through.
I played three games at the H&S; the first one being the most fun (and stressfull!). During that game there were 12 Villagers, 2 Werewolves and one Seer. And I was a Werewolf… Before the game had even really started, one newbie already had a question: “What exactly does the Seer do?” Okay, so she’s the Seer. Now my stroke of genius was not to kill her straightaway. Later on in the game it gave me the edge towards other experience players (like Sheila and Glynn) that of course I wasn’t a Werewolf, cause otherwise I would have killed her at the start. Anyhow, my fellow Werewolf got lynched in the very first round, but I managed to survive right to the last round, where two of the final three Villagers nominated and (with my help) lynched the final other Villager. The Werewolves were victorious!
Now that was a great game, but of course after that nobody trusted me anymore. So in the two following games even though I was a simple harmless Villager, nobody believed me and I got lynched both times. I’m trying to find a venue (separate room, no hire charge) so that we can organize a couple more Werewolf nights, cause I want to play this more often than only at BarCamps!
And I Saw
I went to the Southbank and I saw… remember that kids game? That was the basis for And I Saw. Throughout the Southbank “game area” they had hidden big blue stickers with a 5-digit number on them, like the one in the photo below. Idea was that you had to find as many of those stickers as possible and text the number when you found one. Every player also had a sticker, so the more players you met (or sneakily shadowed) the more points you collected. At the end of the day the scores were tallied on their website and you could see what you had seen that day. Results: I was seen 10 times and I saw 28 things.
The Lost Sport of Olympia
“Discovered” by Jane McGonigal while doing research for The Lost Ring ARG (for the 2008 Beijing Olympics), the Lost Sport of Olympia is a mysterious game the ancient Greeks used to play that was eventually banned from the Olympics. If you haven’t played it yourself, I’m guessing it will sound just plain weird, but (like Werewolf) I really enjoyed myself, albeit in a different manner.
With The Lost Game one person is the Runner who is blindfolded and put in the center of the Labyrinth. The Labyrinth is drawn out on the ground with chalk; it’s not really a labyrinth, cause there’s only one path, but it winds a couple of times around. The other players have to create the walls of the labyrinth, standing on the drawn-out outline. With his arms folded across his chest (grabbing his shoulders) the Runner has to go navigate through the labyrinth, but is not allowed to talk to the walls. The only communication comes from the Walls humming. How they hum or when they hum is part of the tactic of the game, but you can imagine that only Walls infront of the Runner should hum, highlighting in which direction he should go. Now what (to me) makes it even more interesting is that the Labyrinth isn’t built completely from the start. There aren’t enough players for that, so the Walls have to keep moving around making up the parts of the labyrinth only moments before the Runner goes through them. Here’s a video of one of the groups at Hide & Seek:
It’s not your most conventional game, but I love how it combines tactics, co-operation and skill. I started out with a group in a small labyrinth of 3 circles, playing a Wall, and after a couple of tries one Runner managed to get 30 seconds. Most other groups at the time were still stuck at 1 minute plus (the world record is 13 seconds!!), so we graduated to the bigger 8-circuit labyrinth. Turns out it was a lot trickier, but still a lot of fun. When one of the other groups wanted a go at the big labyrinth, a couple of us returned to the smaller one and I attempted my first blindfolded go as Runner. I did it in 36 seconds! Not bad for a newbie apparently. I’ve even joined the London Olympic Team, who are training for (you guessed it) the Olympics.
Cruel 2 Be Kind
Now this game I didn’t play, cause I was too late with registering for it, but I saw people playing and it just looked crazy. With Cruel 2 Be Kind you register a team and with your team you go out and kill other teams. You “kill” by being kind. This means serenading them, complementing their eyes or mistaking them for a famous person. Problem is you don’t know who are players and who are normal people enjoying a day out on the Southbank. So you could be is singing to a complete stranger! Besides that once you kill a team, they become part of your team and as the game continues you get bigger and bigger groups. Because all members of a team have to be participate in a kill, you get these large groups of about 20 people running towards another group singing some love song. It was hilarious to watch!
All in all, it was a great festival and next year I’m definitely keeping that weekend free to enjoy the full two days. If you want more information, check out the Hide & Seek website.