I have always loved games ever since I was little and I think to some degree we all do. There is something that draws us to 'play' that is mysteriously undefinable - the thrill and excitement of being part of something that has it's own set of rules and boundaries, a shared knowledge and experience that draws players together coupled with the joyful element of risk. You can win all or lose all in a multitude of board games or graze knees and hands on tarmac playgrounds and yet despite the risks we all continue to play on.And play on we did at Hide & Seek's Weekender held at the National Theatre on London's South Bank. Since 2007 Hide & Seek have been enticing people of all ages (but mainly adults) with their annual weekender event of social games and playful experiences where you can expect 'paranoia, glee, new connections and fun'. Armed with our programme of events for Saturday we headed for the booking desk and put our names down for a mixture of games (which we'd eagerly chosen the night before over a magnum ice cream) Unfortunately we could only book two main games for the day to allow fair capacity throughout the day but there were many other 'drop in' games you could take part in or be a wiley spectator.
Here are two of my highlights from the day:
International Playtime; 45 minutes of fun run around games......it was at this point I realised that I was wearing the most inappropriate footwear for the day but to my delight I was not the only one! This game slot was quite an interesting one for me as most of the games were ones I have played or facilitated within a theatrical context so I was completely in my comfort zone but what made it fun and interesting for me was watching other people's reactions and interactions with the game and the other participants. Within 45mins a group of complete strangers are immediately connected in a way that would only ever happen through play and not real life.
Time Trails - The second game we played was one of my favourites of the day. The game required participants to download an app on the iphone called Place Whispers which plotted various whispers around the South Bank. Basically a hi-tec treasure hunt with a wonderful twist. In addition we had a paper map that plotted the original route of the Festival of Britain. I absolutely loved this game - I've been to the South Bank quite a few times and have always stuck to the main path and never really ventured beyond but this game took us to some beautiful hidden places which felt like we had suddenly stepped back in time.At the beginning of the day I really didn't know what to expect, in some ways I was expecting something new but realised fundamentally all games are seeded from a handful of what I would describe as traditional games that are made different by space, time, rules and ultimately the participants. I think games and play are so important and have an eternally vital role, they are uniquely social, they bring people together often making new and surprising connections. I really enjoyed the Hide & Seek experience and I think the ethos of the weekend is shared by Ark Lab. So let's see if we can play!And at the end of a very long, hot but fun day there was still a little time to shop......... ;-)