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Matheson Marcault: Two Years Old Today

As of today, it’s been two years since Matheson Marcault sprang into existence!

And gosh, it’s been an interesting two years. We’ve spent the time making our own work, curating events, consulting on other people’s projects and slowly feeling our way towards our core area of practice, somewhere at the overlap of game design, writing, research, history, and physicality. Stuff people play in places. Gamey things that use bodies. Weird bits of the past re-presented through interaction.

We wrote up our first year, a year ago; in the year since then we’ve:

  • Run Now Play This again, once more at Somerset House as part of London Games Festival, with Jo Summers and George Buckenham
  • Curated Game Changers at Somerset House – a free month-long exhibition looking at how games change over time, focusing in particular on chess, billiards and mazes, using a mix of playable contemporary work and historical objects and images
  • Thrown beanbags at planets and planets at the sun in the Scientific Village Fete at New Scientist Live
  • Filled the quad at King’s College London with a playable installation called One Easy Step, a mix of patterns and plinths (above)
  • Designed four boardgames to play with different parts of the V&A building, printing different patterns from the walls and floors onto game boards
  • Made all sorts of moving shapes and patterns to project onto the floor, and played on them, during a residency at QUAD
  • Created a set of games about drawing, for No Quarter at New York University, then developed one of those games further as part of the London Creative Network
  • Made a game in Twine about the aviator Amy Johnson, and her solo flight to Australia
  • Developed some of our one-off games so that we can easily run them at other events, and then done just that – including Manifesto! in Oxford and Corby, and The Racing Line at Nine Worlds in London
  • Consulted on projects encompassing location-based audio, expressive storytelling through gameplay, puzzle design for online events, and physical games for learning outcomes
  • Spoken at conferences and workplaces about play that encourages creativity, about games in museums and public spaces, and about the strange history of games

Which was a pretty busy year, all in. But an exciting one, and one where we feel like we’ve really begun to establish exactly what it is we’re interested in, what our area of expertise is, and what sort of projects we want to be writing about this time next year.

So, time to get started on our third year! Gosh. We’ve got quite a lot planned already:

  • We’re working on a design for a set of hoardings in King Edward Memorial Park in Shadwell, giving people games to play in the park – in fact we’re playtesting on 7th June 4pm-5pm, meeting in the old bowling green, so if you’re in the area, pop by!
  • And on two games about Skegness for SO Festival, looking at different aspects of the town’s history – a digital game, and a treasure hunt leading around town
  • We’re taking some of the games from the Scientific Village Fete to Singapore(!) with GEEK, alongside a game based on one of the playable patterns from our QUAD residency
  • And working on a whole new set of scientific fete ideas, this time from THE FUTURE
  • We’re writing up a set of short essays covering the historical elements of Game Changers, and a much longer essay about play in public space, combining research, personal experience and two weeks of observations made during the King’s College project
  • We’re continuing to develop Art Deck (one of the drawing games we originally made for No Quarter), with an eye to printing it and making it more widely available (mumblemumbleprobablyakickstarterinoctobermumble)
  • We’ve started a research project into creating playable installations which work as games and also help communicate particular information, which we’ll be writing more about soon
  • And of course, we’re in the very early stages of planning Now Play This 2018…

It feels like we’ve really begun to work out what we care about, what we want to concentrate on. Games inspired by physicality, place, history, science. Playful work using words, paper, touch. Projects that get people acting creatively: making stuff, inventing ways to engage. Curation that presents games and playful work in welcoming ways that get people playing, and provide cultural or artistic or historical context. If you want to talk about any of this sort of work, do drop us a line.

Right! Time to see how it goes for another year.

Interesting links for August

This month in physical games and embodied play…


The Hand Eye Society’s WordPlay festival is happening at the British Library this year, which is pretty amazing! Jo Summers (who among many, many other things is digital producer on Now Play This) is directing the festival this year, and if you’ve got a “writerly game” you might want to show, submissions are open until 28 September.

And in Bristol, there’s one and a half days left till the Playable Cities open call closes. This is a £30,000 award for the development of a new work around play and cities – this year they’re particularly interested in proposals focusing on journeys. The initial submission of an idea is pretty quick and straightforward, so if you’ve got something that might fit you should definitely, definitely pop it in.


Andy Field’s written a great short essay on games in cities – it’s for an upcoming book but he’s put it online, and it’s worth a read. It touches on the history of artists making play in public, on questions of who is permitted to play in cities, and some possible future directions. “Behind me I could hear another supervisor using a loudhailer to encourage these new players to disperse. This was not the kind of play we had anticipated, and not the role we thought we would find ourselves playing.”

Interesting things for July 2016

Above: Gamepost by Josh Lee, due to appear at the Market Street Prototyping Festival in October.

This is July’s collection of interesting things going on in live games and embodied play – open calls, upcoming events, and interesting articles we’ve come across recently.


Submissions are open for the Leftfield Collection, a curated show of interesting new work that sits within EGX at the NEC, Birmingham, 22nd – 25th September 2016. They say: “We’re also especially interested in accommodating custom hardware and unusual games (e.g. Tenya Wanya Teens, Glow Tag, and Line Wobbler are things we’ve shown before). If you have such a project, by all means submit.”