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Digital, Events, Games, Physical

Now Play This 2016

*click through gallery above*

Now Play This returned to the New Wing of Somerset House for a second year on 1st – 3rd April 2016, running as part of the London Games Festival. The three-day event included nearly a hundred games to play, including some created especially for the weekend.

The festival is designed to showcase the wider possibilities of games. The peculiar, the beautiful, the deeply experimental. It’s a place for games that get us playing in new and wonderful ways – whether that’s in groups, on our own, outside, inside, on or underneath tables. Games that send us running across courtyards, games situated on nearby screens, games that take place entirely in our heads.

Some highlights included

  •  Qubit from Simon Johnson: a new sport played in the Somerset House courtyard with a real live quantum computer
  • New commissions made especially for the festival including Get Lost! from S Woodson; Castles Made Of Castles from Nico Disseldorp; and Sett from Gary Campbell and Jeannine Inglis Hall
  • Inks from State of Play in a custom-designed pinball cabinet
  • Gorgeous installations including Orthogonal / Diagonal from Nova Jiang, Escalado Reshod from Josh Wilde, and Shiki-On from Miyu Hayashi
  • Books, board games, walks, special showcase events, a mini-conference of microtalks

…and about 90 more games over the course of the three days. See the Now Play This website for details.

 

Now Play This was funded by the Arts Council and Games London, and was part of UTOPIAS: A Year of Imagination and Possibility at Somerset House. 

Raise Haiku Ratio

woodlouse-for-blog-post

At Now Play This last year, we ran a game called Woodlouse (created by Jake Simpson and Pete Morrish). To play Woodlouse, you think of words (like “woodlouse”) that have more vowels than consonants. That’s it. If a word qualifies, it’s “a woodlouse”.

When we ran the game, we had a big piece of paper with some marker pens nearby. We put instructions out, and I wrote up a few sample words (in different coloured pens, with an unconvincing attempt at faking different handwriting styles). Then we invited people to write up any woodlouses they could think of.

The History of Text Generation

Johann Beautiful: Equatorium of paper to represent the planetary orbit of Saturn (from Wikimedia Commons)

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen a lot of people write interestingly about computer-generated text – partly as a result of National Novel Generation Month, which ran through November and prompted some really lovely generated texts.

And as I read, I started wondering about the history of text generation. Not the twentieth century stuff, the Dadaists and William Burroughs and all the later work that happened once computers came into the picture. The old stuff, from the nineteenth century and before. “This won’t take long,” I thought. “There can’t have been much going on.”

So hey, I was up till 3 last night reading and guess what: it turns out I was really really wrong. There’s been a ton of text generation going on over the past thousand years, and it’s fascinating stuff. Most of it comes from writers who really feel like they’d be making deeply confusing experimental games if only they hadn’t died back in the 1680s.

Games, Physical

The Light Machine

Charles and Ray Eames made joyful play part of a serious and thoughtful design process – play to explore materials, to find new ways of looking at the world. Making toys and creative games sat alongside their product design practice, and each fed into the other.

Around the Barbican’s exhibition of their work, the Creative Learning department commissioned us to run a drop-in activity that connects to the Eames’ work for their Family Play event. The Light Machine is the result. It’s a game designed to trigger joyful creativity, and we were thrilled with how people threw themselves into playing with the tools we gave them.

Manifesto!

DYPTCH-TEENAGERS

Manifesto! is a sugar-coloured game designed to frustrate. We made it while the political fallout of the 2015 election was playing out all over the media. It grew out of some conversations with Furtherfield, about what a street game inspired by the Magna Carta might look like, for a strand they were curating at Frequency Festival in Lincoln.  

Gamechangers: Football

Events, Games, Physical

football-generalplay

In October 2015, Matheson Marcault tried out ten new ways to play football – each one designed for GameCity by a different designer.

Nottingham was declared the City of Football for 2015, so GameCity decided to fill the Market Square with reimagined versions of the game for ten days, and they invited us along to curate it.

It was a brilliant experience – playing games right in the middle of Market Square made it really easy to get people involved, and we had commentators, referees and demonstration players from around Nottingham to help passers-by understand what was going on. Check out this Guardian article for more context around the project, or read about the individual games below…

Essays, Events, Games, Words

Now Play This: #128CharGames

Leave a ball on a quiet pavement. Players take bets on whether each passer-by will kick it.

Take a glass of orange juice. Add a tsp. of salt each turn. Sip. First to spit out drink loses.

Back in 2013, an awful lot of people on Twitter made up games designed to fit in a single tweet. They shared them using the hashtag #128CharGames, in a project initiated by game designer and conceptual artist Zach Gage. Gage wrote up the results of his experiment here – dozens and dozens of minimal games and ideas, all folded down into just a sentence or two.

The project itself was pretty great, and so were a lot of the games that people designed. So as part of Now Play This, our September event at Somerset House, we got permission from Gage and the designers of our favourite contributions to print up their games on index cards and show as part of an exhibit of instructional games and artworks. And then we left a little pile of index cards on a table, thinking that a few people might want to add their own.

Events, Games, Physical, Site-specific

Now Play This

Click through the gallery above to see photos from the event.

On 4-6 September, we ran Now Play This, a weekend of games at Somerset House in London with George Buckenham and Jo Summers.

Over the course of three days we involved more than 70 speakers,  game designers, writers and performers, and drew an audience of over a thousand players.

Matheson Marcault

News

Matheson Marcault is a new company set up by Holly Gramazio and Sophie Sampson to work with culture, history and physical space.

We use game design to engage people with places and ideas, and our work fits in museums, in public squares, at arts festivals, and online.

We’re particularly excited by words, play, installations, and interactive history.

If you’re interested in talking to us, get in touch: hello@mathesonmarcault.com. We’d love to talk about site-specific events and installations; work with a deep grounding in research and history; and games for museums, parks and other public spaces.

Follow us on twitter at @mathmarcault for news of future projects.