Holly was recently in Frankfurt to take part in Playsonic, a festival at Alte Oper investigating the overlap between games and music.  Our contribution: “Inverted Operas”, a collaboration with composer David Helbich and architect Rosario Talevi.

“Inverted Operas” took music from outside the opera house, and placed it in the public square outside. Across the weekend, visitors found moveable mirrored sculptures inspired by elements of the opera house’s interior decoration; performers with many different instruments; and cards that they could use to guide them as they listened to the music.

Anyone who wanted to would take cards from facilitators, each card providing a suggestion of how to respond to the music (and to the ambient noise of the square, which formed a key part of the piece). Players listened and took part for as long as they liked, exchanging cards with facilitators and other players.

There were over fifty different cards, which from a game design perspective fell into four categories:

  • Cards about listening, providing prompts for ways to hear the music differently. Listen while facing away from the musicians; listen while focusing on the sound of nearby cards.
  • Cards about movement: move your tongue inside your mouth along with the music; find a line and balance along it, taking as if the music is trying to make you fall.
  • Cards about making noise: find a bell and ring it; find a word written down and yell it as loud as you feel comfortable.
  • Cards to show to musicians, which cued the musicians to play differently: faster, slower, suddenly loud, even to follow the person who showed them the card around the square for thirty seconds.