September 24, 2006

Come out and WIN

by Mary Flanagan · , 3:51 pm

It was an intense weekend here in NYC where the Come out and Play Festival 2006 was in full swing. I played game designer Frank Lantz’s IDENTITY game, a game of secret organizations, covert intelligence, suspicion, trust, cooperation and betrayal… upon joining the game, every player is assigned to one of 5 secret organizations and given a unique codename, and the goal was to find out other player’s organizational affiliation and identity…

What was most interesting to me about the game design was the combination of competition and cooperation needed to play and the fact that the game play took place all across NYC over an entire weekend, across all of the events (including parties, dinners, waiting in line, or during other games –basically anywhere one might find another player). There was no way to win this game without working cooperatively; indeed, cooperation at times might very well mean lying to outsiders, enlisting identity theft, and other tricks of the espionage trade. There were episodes of double crossing, betrayal, double or quadruple espionage, the use of digital devices for surveillance (apparently some players stood at the windows of Eyebeam headquarters using their digital cameras to zoom in on player’s computer screens as they logged into the game) and lots of other sordid human behaviour that proved to be much fun. I even heard of a wrestling match with Eric Zimmerman in the women’s restroom at Eyebeam over an identity card, but then, who can believe mere rumours?

The winner of the game, the intrepid and talented Tracy Fullerton, a game designer, writer and educator teaching at the Electronic Arts Interactive Entertainment Program at the USC School of Cinema-Television. For those of you who envy her over 1000 point win over other players, check out her workshops !!

Many other games sounded quite amazing, including Jane and Ian’s Cruel to be Kind–which I heard was a blast to play and hope to someday catch it; unf I couldn’t make it due to commitments in my new art studio in Williamsburg –I’m just settling in with NY artist Adam Chapman, also a friend to several GTxA-ers. I’m sure the games will be blogged madly, so watch the blogosphere… I spotted many Tiltfactor Lab affiliates at the events, so perhaps they will add their comments!