Tiny Games began life at the Southbank Centre in 2011 and are a collection of very small, very quick-to-understand games. They sit in the real world, inviting participation from any interested passer-by. Their rules can be summarised in just a couple of sentences.
In the spirit of the “big” games in London this summer, Hide & Seek created 99 wee-tiny games and stuck them all over the city, transforming buildings, sidewalks, tube stations and more into impromptu game sites. The rules are all quick and simple and each game takes almost no time to play – anyone can play, anytime they want. Players will be tested on everything from wits to creativity to cooperation to determination, all within immediate reach of their home, workplace, or favorite pub.
It’s great to watch the Olympians do what they do best and admire their near-superhuman abilities, but it’s also important to bring this spirit of competition and fun to non-superhumans like us. We bet that if everyone stopped to play even for just a few minutes everyday the world would undoubtedly be a better place. 99 Tiny Games serves as a reminder to everyone to always be playful, no matter where you are.
In the past year, the team has since created a Kickstarter to try and get an app built so you can find fun games wherever you go. Hooray for using technology to create playful spaces wherever you are! Unfortunately it only looks like it’s available in the UK market, but it’s great inspiration to look for play wherever you go.
Happy Friday. The weather is turning beautiful in many places around the U.S., with lots of sun. In fact one school in Washington gave kids the day off so they could go out and play. Some places get snow days, the principal figured, so why not a sun day? Perfect reasoning to me.
Unfortunately a lot of adults don’t take these opportunities to go out and play, thinking it’s a “waste” of their time. But, as I constantly argue on this blog, play is vital for healthy grown-ups too.
Erika Andersen explores the intersection between work and play for grown-ups, and how play makes us better grown-ups.
Sadly, by the time most of us reach our teens, play has been replaced as our primary learning mode by competition, memorization, practice and recitation – otherwise known as “sports” and “school.” And we come to think of play as something we do when there’s nothing more urgent to be done – as time stolen from more critical things. However, the elements that make play such a great way to learn when we’re kids still work for us when we’re adults. The happiest and most creative adults I know regularly bring play into their lives as a way to stretch, evolve, innovate and – this is important – enjoy. Here’s a great example – two guys named Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum have created a kit called MaKey MaKey, that allows you to control any electronic device using household objects.
…When you play, you’re making up the world. You’re saying, “Let’s imagine that…” or “Why don’t we…?” or “What if….?” And that’s where freshness, learning and innovation live.
Andersen offers up some ideas on how to be more playful as a grown-up, although as she points out the whole point of being playful is to think outside the box, so just think of these as starting places:
– Be the littlest kid. You know how when kids play, the littler kids usually follow the older kids’ lead? When you play with actual kids, let them call the shots, rather than you, adult-like, defining the play. You’ll get drawn into wonderful worlds you would never have considered.
– Declare a no win-zone. Occasionally, when trying someone new, agree with yourself that the goal isn’t to ‘get good at it’ or ‘be better at this than so-and-so’ – but rather ‘to look like a fool’ or ‘have as much fun as possible.’ Remember what Bettelheim says about play including “the absence of any goals outside the activity itself.”
– Lose the watch. Little kids have no sense of time. When they’re engrossed in something, hours could pass and they’d never know it. Try moving all your time-based commitments out of a day (or at least part of a day), and give yourself permission to do whatever you want for as long as you want. Get fascinated about your choices.
– Bring play to work. Sometime during the next week, approach a work problem through the rules of play, that is “characterized by freedom from all but personally imposed rules (which are changed at will).” Start thinking about it by asking “What if we didn’t have any constraints – how would we think about this?” If you really get into that “play” mindset, you just might come up with a crazy notion that contains the germ of greatness.
The brain is such an amazing thing, and has such amazing capabilities to recover, it just needs the right tool; in this case, using video games as a type of mental and physical therapy for stroke victims. Using computer games is also useful because it is more engaging for the brain, rather than traditional physical exercises like “pick up the cup” since framing it as a game often makes it seem less consequential for players (this is a new exercise whereas they used to know how to pick up a cup) and therefore less pressure and more fun:
Four mechanical-engineering students at McGill University in Canada have developed an inexpensive sensor glove that allows patients to exercise in a game-like fashion at home with minimal supervision. Self-therapy? Well, yes and no. Using the accompanying software, doctors will be able to monitor their charges’ progress off-site, cutting down on hospital visits and costs.
The added benefit of remote monitoring for doctors is also good for the patient, as the doctor can respond right away if they see something wrong or can provide immediate feedback, rather than having to schedule an appointment, travel to the doctor’s office, and have all of your questions answered, all of this being extra hard after you’ve had a stroke and need others to help transport you.
An article featured on the O’Reilly Radar last month that interviews Kevin Slavin, managing director of Area/Code, who is currently working with Frank Lantz to integrate gameplay into the fabric of reality, or what he calls “Big Games.”
Big games are “games that take place using some elements from the game system and some elements of the real world. Something Frank Lantz had worked on with Katie Salen and Nick Fortugno was called the Big Urban Game. It involved transforming the city of Minneapolis into a game board. They did that by using huge inflatable game pieces, about 25-feet high. The players, among other things, were moving these huge pieces around the city.”
“There’s a few of us who have been thinking about how “play” and the “city” were going to combine. We’ve been drinking the same Kool-Aid from the same cooler for quite a while.”
The way Slavin’s describing his vision reminds me a lot of parkour. Interesting ideas.