games and things

I'm a game designer. I run Matheson Marcault with Sophie Sampson - we're a new company making games that engage with history, physicality and public space. 

Most of my work is over at the Matheson Marcault website, but there are some personal projects here.

Games for Places

Games for Places is a series of installations across East Durham: six different locations, each with four or five games that will only work there, rules painted on the ground for people to stumble across and play. It was put in place for East Durham Creates, a festival running in locations all across East Durham.

Picture by Colin Davison

Picture by Colin Davison

The project builds on a lot of the work I did at Hide&Seek, particularly 99 Tiny Games - I even managed to lure Ivan Gonzalez, co-designer and producer on that project, away from sketch comedy for a week to help out with game design. But there are a few things that are new to this project that have made it really exciting to work on.

For a start, we've been able to paint onto the ground, which has been amazing. There's something about bright stencilled text that gets a really high proportion of people stopping and reading. It looks like it might not be allowed; it circumvents the "this is probably an ad, right?" part of our brains.

Picture by Colin Davison.

Picture by Colin Davison.

And because we've been placing a few games in each location, working with really enthusiastic venues, we've also been able to paint other things, not just the rules. For example, in a park filled with brown and red and golden leaves, we've painted another forty leaves onto the ground, scattered over the pathways. The leaves were modelled by our brilliant designer and artist, Hannah Sibai, on leaves picked up from the park during a site visit. We've used them in all the game rules in the park, from little almost-games like Dog Walk (get a point each time your dog walks over a leaf - unless it's yellow, in which case your game's over for the day) to fiercer games of running and jumping from leaf to leaf. 

We've been working at amazing locations suggested by our wonderful producers at Forma, from parks and community centres to Victor Pasmore's Apollo Pavilion, which sits somewhere between "bridge" and "habitable sculpture". And all the locations have been so supportive about the games, letting us put them everywhere from plazas to secret pathways to cafe tables.

Picture by Colin Davison

Picture by Colin Davison

So when we found a load of paving stones, for example, and came up with a game that would work if only they had arrows on them, we could just paint arrows on them. We were able to make sure each game drew on something special about its location - for example, the strange sightlines of the Apollo Pavilion, with gaps and unexpected views - while adding something that made different types of gameplay possible - bright lilypads in different colours across the Pavilion, leaves in the parks, arrows in Shotton Community Centre, labelling different areas on the sportsfield at Greenhills.

East Durham Creates is a new series of festivals and events for East Durham, running from 2014 to 2016 - there's a few days left to run on the current programme, and then there'll be a whole lot more in May 2015. There are games at Byron Place Shopping Centre, Shotton Community Centre, Greenhills Community Centre, the Apollo Pavilion Peterlee, Horden Welfare Park and Easington Welfare Park.

Producers: Forma Arts and Media. Designer: Hannah Sibai. Additional game design: Ivan Gonzalez. Playtesting and installation help from: Holly L., Brin and Eleanor.