Now Play This – Exhibition Review

This weekend Somerset House in London put on one of the most entertaining and involving exhibitions I have been to in the last year. The idea behind Now Play This is that a group of games designers both digital and physical group together to show what they have been working on recently. Many of the games are either available now or will be soon, and some of them are concepts that you don’t always need a board or console to play, merely your imagination.

Here are a run down of some of the best games I found when I went on Friday.

The exhibition separated the games into different types; for example colour and sound, or a certain theme. One of the first games that look my fancy, was a rather modern looking chess board. The rules differed a little from what I was taught growing up, but the different shapes and slight rule changes, made for an interesting game. (I lost if anyone was wondering).

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In the same room was a game soon to be released later this year, called Chambara by Team OK, where players use their games console controllers to play a rather interesting game of hide and seek. This is a local multiplayer stealth game where the presentation is intrinsic to game play, as the two-tone pallet allows players to hide in plain sight, either in shadow or light, I’m pretty sure the character my friend was playing with was a chicken, but due to the nature of the game I have no idea what the other character was. If you are good at console games, this is something you may enjoy, I however am terrible at console games and due to the initial confusion with controls, I gave it a miss.

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The next room held some more conceptual games that used colour and sound to interest the player. One game which I was fairly familiar with took the form of a pinball machine, but with a twist allowing the player to create bright and colourful inky art pieces. Co-founder of State of Play, Katherine Bidwell said, “Pinball is a great game at its core. With Inks we wanted to extract that essence, create a game for everyone and make it a beautiful experience.” I really enjoyed this game, probably more for the fact that it was a modern take on a classic arcade game. If this is something you would like to read more about check out Polygon’s article on the game here.

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My favourite game of the exhibition is a interactive, take on a classic handheld game. We’ve all heard of Snake; the player maneuvers a line which grows in length, with the line itself being a primary obstacle. But Snake Pit by //////////FUR//// is a upgrade from what you may have played on your old mobile phone and computers. This game is controlled by your feet. You control the snake by stamping on the pedals in a corresponding colour, red or yellow. Your snake will move towards you when you do. I loved this game and would happily have played it for hours. We got a few good games in before we moved on.

From this room we went into a library style setting, with reading games that I would have enjoyed growing up. One of the more interesting games was a little booklet by Harry Giles called 14 Ways to Re-read Your Favourite Novel.

Here are couple of my favourite ways:

Choose a letter as your enemy, cut out all words in the book that contain that letter and re-read the novel filling in the spaces with the words that appear in their place.

Create a list of a characters actions and do the same actions in a day, week, month or until you’ve finished reading the story.

If you want to read up more about Harry Giles his blog can be found here.

Hop, Skip and Jump by Charles Cameron Hipbone is a word play game a little like word association but played on large pieces of paper, possibly over a long period of time, depending on your enthusiasm. The idea is that you begin by writing a word in one of the circles, and each connecting circle has to link to the others.

Hop SKip Jump

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The image above is The Said Symphony board, which can be used for free for non-commercial game play. You could print out the whole board, or only part of it, but it’s worth a go, even if you only play it once.

What are some of your favourite games, either from the exhibition or games you know?

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