HipSync, The Sandpit, The Hide and Seek Festival, Ludocity, Digital Maverick, and Beyond

So, I heard about the Sandpit from, wait, no, I heard about the Hide and Seek Festival from my friend the Digital Maverick. And because the Digital Maverick is what he claims to be, I tend to listen carefully to him. And so I go look for the Hide and Seek Festival and when I find it, what do I see but the Sandpit and who should be the very first name cited as one of the Sandpit Who - yes, the very same person from a group called Ludocity who asked me for permission to include some of my "pointless games" in Ludocity's admirable collection of Pervasive Games in which one can find, for example, the rules to HipSync:
Gamers are loaned MP3 players on shuffle play and place false plastic lips in their mouths (to prevent talking). On the game start they all press play on the MP3s, then only by dancing they must identify other players that are listening to the same song and from a group with them. At the songs end you get knocked out if you’re in the wrong group (or if you’re on your own when other people are dancing to the same song as you).
And suddenly I am led to connect back at least a year in time from our last contact, to that very same person, who explains the Sandpit thusly:
It's a regular event for trying out new pervasive games - the sort of thing that Ludocity documents. There are also quite a few games that are a bit more production-intensive, involving more actors or tech - these tend not to make it onto Ludocity as they're a lot harder for other people to run!

We generally get anywhere from 80 to 200 people at each Sandpit; and they play a few different games each, chosen out of the 8 or 10 games that tend to be programmed at each event.

They take place in a lot of different places - partly because it's a good way to find new people to play with and to make games, partly because it's good to play in new spaces. Usually we're in some sort of London-based mixed arts venue, but over autumn we're going on tour to 10 different cities around the UK, with a programme of games that have come out of the last year's worth of Sandpits, plus a new game or two at each venue contributed by a local maker.

The makers are - well, there's no real rules, or consistent patterns. We have a lot of people that come from a theatre background; a few programmers; an experimental composer, a technical writer, an accountant, a film student. Anyone who's interested in making a
pervasive game, really.

I curate the Sandpit, so my role is partly making sure the event works as a whole, and the games fit together; partly helping the makers to develop their ideas and make sure that they function as a game; and partly recruiting new makers.

The Sandpit is part of Hide&Seek, which Alex Fleetwood set up in 2007; and a lot of the best games from the Sandpit become part of the Hide&Seek Weekender, an annual weekend of games much along the lines of Come Out and Play in New York. For a general idea of what it's like, there's this review from a player last year, or this year's programme.
I imagine that's much more than you wanted to know, but if there's anything you're curious about that I haven't explained, let me know!
Ah the connections. The connections. Like branches of a river, rejoining. How wonderful to learn of people making the very same kind of games I would be making if I were making games with them or vice versa. Dancing to my own music. With other people. And doing it in public, for art! Ah, public art. And ah public fun. New Games renewed. HipSync in deed. And to learn of it from someone called the Digital Maverick. And to learn I knew of it already.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Blogger Holly Gramazio said...

Relatedly: Simon Johnson, one of the designers of HipSync, also runs Iglab and Igfest, which are monthly and yearly (respectively) pervasive game events in Bristol, and are great.


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