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

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

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.