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Our 1st Birthday

Myles Nye

We made it! One year of rare and unusual games, with a meet-up every month and no missed months. Some months we only had 7 players, but some months we had 20 or more, and sometimes for several months in a row. For our 13th Play Date we played with THOUSANDS of people at the Getty Center.

In truth, it would be more accurate to say that we played NEAR thousands of people. The actual number of people who played our games was somewhat smaller than that but it was nonetheless exciting to be part of such a spectacular celebration.

Here's how it happened: Albert Kong (@lethalbeef) the top banana at Big Apple SCRAPple Entertainment Ltd (or something) tipped of CARS-LA that we might be able to provide games for them. CARS-LA is a community arts council that works in partnership with Getty Center a few times a year to produce family festivals that tie in with the collection on display in some way. In conjunction with a photography exhibit on the themes of recreation and play, CARS-LA picked "In Focus: Play" as the theme of its spring event. What a refreshing change from Romans and Greeks!

The day we planned for the festival at the Getty was ambitious: as I Tweeted at the time, probably the most ambitious single day I've ever planned for myself in my nearly 10 years as a full time game design professional. It went really great, even with the one problem game in the garden.

The day started early - earlier still, actually: the night before when Dash and Willa slept over at my place. Jackie and Doug joined us early in the morning and we drove caravan-style to the Getty, where we parked at the top of the hill, arriving around 7:30 AM. We wore sunscreen and brought changes of clothes.

I have produced games at many games festivals in different cities and have never been taken care of so well as I was on this day. We had convenient parking; carts to bring our gear to the set-up location; a welcome spread with bagels, coffee, and more; a fully operational sound system waiting for us when we arrived. The royal treatment! We felt really proud to be part of the event.

The first game of the day was Dot Racing. Our position was the arrivals plaza, so we were kind of an "attract mode" attraction setting the tone of the games inside from the moment guests got off the tram. We never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for a new game to get started but, since they were kids, we added the extra role of a left-and-right model to the game. Jackie filled this role and later Doug and Willa. I hosted and then passed MC duties to Dash. We had a few grown-ups play (not enough for my liking!) and lots of kids.

As Dot Racing was winding down, we began Høot Patøoter. This game is where it's at nowadays and we had lots of great kid-and-parent teams play with us.

For more on this game, Come Out and Play wrote this blog post in anticipation of our appearance at the Games for Changer conference in New York last week.

Then there was a lunch break followed by Field Tower Defense. This was the game that went off the rails for a few minutes there. I think almost anyone else would have anticipated that the game would be played only by children. Because we produced this game for adults, we were in that mindset. And then what we did was try to get 100 children aged 12 and under ready to play a multi-round strategy game and armed them with inflatable swords and shields.

This went about as well as you'd expect. There was more than passing similarity to The Hunger Games, but the weather was nicer.

After it became clear that the game as we had played it previously in Pan Pacific Park was not going to be possible to produce here, we reduced all the elements from it except the part where the players are split into 2 groups, 1 group runs to the castle, 1 group tries to hit them with balls, and that's it. Plus the swords and shields. This went much better and Willa capably took over the mic and MC'd with her usual pizzazz.

Meanwhile, I returned to the arrivals plaza to play Pickpocket Junction. This game had been mothballed for over a year and I wasn't sure I'd remember the intro patter but it all came back to me. This one as also mostly played with kids, and there was some pretty hilarious coaching coming from parents on the sidelines, especially for the very little ones.

 Trenchcoat Grabass rides again.

Trenchcoat Grabass rides again.

My favorite round of this game was the one where all the Play Folk played: Willa, Dash, Dais, Maclen, John Greg, and April.

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And then we wound the night down with JS Joust!

 Tombstone Billy and his brood, plus Maclen and others.

Tombstone Billy and his brood, plus Maclen and others.

After the clean-up and the pack-out, which was not very painful, there was a rather silly interlude at my house that included a rabbit in the bathroom, an outfit change suitable for a sex dungeon, and a very confused babysitter. After that, we reconvened at Canter's for a celebratory dinner. It was a very special day and night.

What games would you play at the Getty Center?