New York sees the fifth annual Come Out And Play festival taking place this weekend. Every annual event that lasts year after year should be proud of its success. The constituency is real-world, street and augmented reality games. There does not seem to have been the explosion in augmented reality games that once I thought there might be, because the barriers to creation are considerable; I'm not sure to what extent there exist generic tools which can assist devisors. However, the barriers to creation of new sports, blown-up party games and the flourishing sideline of live-action video games are relatively light. It would be interesting to see which devisors have returned from year to year and whether some genres (media?) are more promising than others for inspiring repeat device. Ooh, they even have live radio coverage for those of us who can't be there! Hurrah. Sadly there never seems to be quite as much blogging about the games there as I'd like there to be.
I particularly like the way that the event has inspired local groups like Obscure Games of Pittsburgh, who are bringing their best game to New York - and very good Silverball looks, too. It's effectively human pinball; break out the old croquet multiball joke. Good work, Pittsburgh! Pittsburgh is set to host its own festival at the end of August, which I hope is also a success.
The closest counterpart we have to this in the UK is the Hide and Seek Weekender, taking place in London at the National Theatre from 9th to 11th July. No games have yet been announced. bateleur ran a game here last year; I wonder whether he will be doing so again this year. Will anyone here be going - jvvw, hawkida, perhaps? It's five weeks away so theoretically I would be off work that weekend. Hide and Seek also run "Sandpit" playtest sessions from time to time; later this month, they're heading up to Warwick.
The Come Out And Play brand gave its title to an event in Amsterdam in 2007; I've wondered whether a British town might ever be able to host an event worthy of the title. I think it's relevant that the New York-based COaPs have been able to generate significant local partnerships. That's not to say that, say, Hide and Seek does badly; it has quality support from the art world, but maybe not the same quantity. I have a gut feeling that the sorts of companies that can afford sponsorship budgets in the UK are fairly conservative, especially these days, but it may just be that the best sponsorship-finders haven't come our way yet.
Staying in the UK but returning to this weekend, Birmingham hosts the fourth annual UK Games Expo, which I sadly will not be attending. Once again I'm very impressed that they've managed to get as far as year four. I'm a little less impressed with their web site, though, and am not sure how organically organised the whole event is. (I think highly of the people who I know that are involved; if they rate their peers then that's good enough for me.) The event caters to fans of board games, trading card games, RPGs and miniatures war games, with the board gmaes side of things seeming to have three or four separate prongs which might or might not be as well-connected as they could be. Extra points go to the event for widening the scope of the event to feature costumed groups and some workshops, with games-related authors and personalities I'd like to get to meet.
I'm a big fan of the UK Games Expo in general because of its overt attempts to attempt as many genres of gaming as possible. Last year, the UK Games Expo claimed to include some LAN computer gaming (I may be years behind with my vocabulary here) and the Living Dungeon; I am not clear whether they are happening this year or not. One page suggests there'll be another Living Dungeon, but I'm not sure how authoritative that page is because I'm not sure if it's linked elsewhere on the site.
There is a great deal more that I want to say on this topic, but I realise that this is essentially a topical post about this weekend, and this weekend is somehow already mostly over. I shall save the second installment for another time.
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