I went over to Somerset House today to look at the exhibition at Now Play This, an event which, as I understand it, is part of London Games Festival. There were lots of interesting ideas and implementations, big and small.
Some notable things I saw:
I spent more time than intended playing Daniel Linssen’s Wibble Wobble. It’s your usual platformer-type game, but with a constantly shifting ground, so that what is safe sometimes becomes unsafe, that waiting too long in the same place can kill you.
I hugely enjoyed the Darkroom, which played with light and shadow. Pippin Barr’s Game ideas were there, as was Larklamp. This was a two-player game with lovely world-building (that’s not just a lantern, that’s a glimmerlamp, and it wants to tell you things…). The lantern – whose slides can be changed out – forms the board, and rotating the lantern allows you to project different patterns of shadows. The gamemasters (or facilitators) tied the whole thing together, by giving meaning to the pieces and their patterns.
Two games played with the idea of different ways of marking your achievements: Action Painting Pro by Ian McLarty and Inks by State of Play. Both had similar ideas: your movements are represented as paint streaks, which you can then view after the game is over. I didn’t get to play with Inks (there was a kid absolutely killing it) but Action Painting Pro was surprisingly addictive.
A special mention for Blackbar by Neven Mrgan & James Moore, a fill-in-the-blanks epistolary game set in a dystopia. As dystopias go, this checks the Stepford Wives-esque enforced cheeriness and the omniscient police tickboxes, but the idea was definitely very interesting. Certain words in the letters you read are censored, and you have to guess what those words are. I guess one way Blackbar could have been better was rewarding player effort. Some of the words that were blacked out were relatively innocuous (so why were they censored again?), and some were terribly hard to guess. Even then, I got into the story quite quickly and would have played more if I hadn’t gotten stuck.
In the same room as the IF were books on game design and otherwise related to games – Charles Stross’s Halting State was there (!), as was one of Anna Anthropy’s books. They’d set it up with cushions and nice cushy places to curl up and read or play board games.
There was also a very NSFW game, Cobra Club by Robert Yang, in which you’re sending, well, nudes to random internet strangers, with a customisable avatar. It seems to involve guessing what the stranger wants and adjusting the avatar’s body accordingly. People were generally amused.