Fun and Games

Larkin’ About“, a special event running at Contact Manchester last night, really made me want to find out more about “Pervasive and Social Games”, a fascinating area all about participation and interactivity that isn’t natural territory for me. I don’t think the friends who I was there with will mind too much if I tell you we were all slightly shy for the first wee while, given that running around (or Larkin’ About) inside a building full of strangers isn’t necessarily the easiest thing for a rainy Saturday night. Once you get into the spirit of feeling pretty much like a big kid on an adventure playground, it’s a really great way for you – and your inner puzzle solver – to break from taking things too seriously. There’s also the advantage that not actually being a kid, you can get a few drinks up at the bar to help you on your way. 😉

For “Mixtape”, we had to hunt around the building for 9 hidden cassette tapes, each one of which contained a different tune with an original monologue – on various aspects of being in and out of love – spoken over the top. We then had to decide what our own Track 10 would be and why. This was great; not just because the monologues (by Vee Uye, one of the “Larkin Agents”) were impressive, but also because pressing chunky big buttons and (im)patiently waiting for your tape to rewind while hoping you’ve not confused it about SidesA&B takes you back nostalgically to far less convenient technological days. Aah. As the game’s designer more eloquently writes:

Mixtape is a retro-audio treasure hunt with a soundtrack that takes you around the Contact building and into the puzzle of our hearts. Players navigate the space with analogue personal stereos and augment the narrative with their own memories. For 3 players at a time.

I don’t want to imply that “Larkin’ About” was entirely about silliness and feeling retro though! There were plenty of physically active games with intriguing names and educational as well as dramatic aspects, like “Histronauts” (designed by UniverCity Culture at Manchester University), and “Spy School”. These made use of ultra-modern technology – smart phones, geo-tags, and QR codes for instance – but maybe those are the ones I’ll gear myself up for next time!

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If you’re wondering what’s going on in some of my pictures, Mortal Kombat was repurposed and projected onto a huge screen to become “Moral Kombat”. In this game, people who had committed such cardinal sins as “getting on the bus without paying” and “forgetting my mum’s birthday” could seek forgiveness by pitching a stand-in ninja warrior against the judgemental audience – who were also represented by another would-be assassin. Cue a fight to the entirely simulated and amusingly coded death.

All of Larkin’ About’s work is based on the talents of Manchester theatre practitioners, digital artists,  live artists and, naturally, the game players who all this is for. It’ll be interesting to discover what they have on offer in future.

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5 responses to “Fun and Games”

  1. Garth Simmons says :

    Was an interesting event – like your photos – you do have quite a good eye for photography… I’m often really bad at it. Should probably give it a better go next time as you say but that’s easy to say now.

    • musingfrommanchester says :

      Well, I deliberately put up the best ones so it looks effortless. You don’t see the image editing either. 😉 Seriously though: thanks! Glad you like them. And yeah, we should really all try to participate a bit more next time!

  2. veeuye says :

    This is a very kind write up. We’re so glad you enjoyed it and hope to see you at future events.

    Vee (Larkin’ Agent #4)

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  1. How We Larked! « Larkin About - December 6, 2011

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