Whether it is an old school board game like The Game of the Goose, or maybe a Playstation game of the Grand Theft Auto variety, games are fun, and we like to play them. But it appears that there’s another type of game that is getting increasingly popular: interactive games where the city is our playing board. In this article we’ll highlight five of them.
You may recall the revival of an Atari classic by students of the HAWK University. Their game STREETPONG was approved and launched last year in Hildesheim, Germany. While waiting for the “green man” at an intersection, you don’t need feel bored. Just play a game of PONG with your ‘frenemy’ at the other side of the street. Or how about Belgian designer Kris Temmerman, who turned his home window into an arcade game? For all of you game-fanatics, you’re gonna like that!
Long gone are the days that you need your old Nokia phone to play Snake. At Granary Square in London, people can play this game in real life! By taking control of the fountains, Granary Squirt allows passersby to play Snake against each other and become the ‘king of the square’. All you have to do is go to King’s Cross, download the special app, and make sure you keep that snake on track during the game!
Chinese artist Cao Fei turned the International Commerce Centre (HongKong’s tallest building) into a giant Atari. Specifically for the third edition of the Art Basel HongKong (2015), special techniques in both light and sound were used to transform the skyscraper into the world’s largest tv-screen, that was displaying Atari classics like Pacman. Apart from the fact it is simply extremely cool to watch, there was one downside: you weren’t able to play the game yourself.
In some occasions, it seems that games aren’t simply used to ‘play’. It can also be that they aim to change particular behaviours of people. Take for example this game of Tetris, designed by alumni of the Design Lab at the University of Sydney. Their innovation, TetraBIN combines the enjoyable aspect of playing a game with a serious, more societal-oriented aspect of behavioural change. The idea is pretty simple: depositing trash in this special bin allows you to play Tetris. Awesome, right?
It appears that more and more, designers and creatives are using the city and streets for fun and excitement. These examples of old school games implemented in our urban landscapes could be regarded as one of the most up to date trends in circulation. However, some of them show us that sometimes it’s not simply about the idea of playing games or improving our public spaces. By offering an active and playful twist, people could become more aware of their behaviour in public, and, in turn, even positively changing it. Whether it is Tetris, Pong, Pacman, or Snake. Go out, and play the city.