games and places


Memory Game

You'll need 3 to 5 players, and paper, pens and an envelope for everyone.

Give each player ten minutes to invent a memory of something you all did together. A party you went to, a movie you watched, a meal you ate. Something communal, something plausible but definitely untrue, something that "happened" within the last five years.

It should be a nice memory. Something low-key. Something charming. Something that could well have happened, something you kinda wish was true, something that would be true in a very slightly better version of your life.

Don't tell anyone else your memory - just write down a one-sentence summary on a strip of paper. Copy that exact sentence out once for each player. That Boxing Day when we couldn't find an open pub so we drank corner-shop beer on a bench near the river, sleeves pulled down over our fingers to keep them warm, and we saw three foxes run along the middle of the empty pavement. That night when we went out dancing and it snowed while we were inside, and we came out at two and everything was white in the streetlamps, and we were drunk and it didn't feel cold and we threw snowballs in each other's faces in the park and fell over a lot. That autumn morning when it was suddenly hot, and we went to the park and there was a power cut at the cafe so they were giving out their ice-cream free before it melted, and someone thought they were getting mint but it turned out to be pistachio and they were so sad, who was that anyway? That boat trip at sunset. That picnic where a squirrel ran up and stole a whole cupcake, what the hell. 

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Holly Gramazio
Games I Played Last Week In America, Each One Written About For The Same Amount Of Time That I Spent Playing It

BREAKUP SQUAD (by Catt Small). 4 minutes.

Breakup Squad is a five-player game. I play as one of a team of three allied friends; we're trying to keep two exes away from each other at a party. The exes, controlled by rival players, are nice people but they're bad for each other. They need to stay apart for their own good. You can push other partygoers in front of them, build barriers of flesh to ensure that they stay separate; as a last-ditch effort you can just get in the way yourself. I'm playing this game at a party, and real-world crowds are around me, barriers of people I had to push through to get my turn: it feels like a good setting.

But after fifteen seconds of playing I realise: wait, no, I'm not a helpful friend at all! I'm one of the exes. And as an ex, I know what's best for me! I'm a grownup! These crowds are my enemies, these on-screen crowds and the real crowd around that wants me to fail. If I'd like to talk to someone at a party, then who are my monstrous friends to try to stop me? And all of a sudden I push my way towards an intensely adorable on-screen figure, my long-lost love, and we meet. Ah, it's so great to catch up! Why haven't we hung out lately? I high-five the real-world stranger who played the other ex: WELL DONE US. "This won't go well", the screen informs me, but it already has.

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Holly Gramazio