Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Come Out and Play 2009 in NYC June 12-14

This past weekend The Retronyms were in New York City as part of the 2009 Come Out and Play Festival. Seek 'n Spell was one of the games featured, so the San Francisco crew took red-eye flights out Thursday night and spent most of Friday napping until the designer meeting, got some food, and then the games began.

First was the Neo-Cowgirl Faux Rodeo, in which Cowgirls competed against gangs of Rustlers in three events. My favorite event was the bronc riding, played in a ring that's a sheet on which cowgirls placed their hands on the sheeted ground and their feet on an exercise ball, with a rustler at each corner shaking the sheet to dismount them. In the overall competition I took second out of six, but as my father always reminds the family when he wins at cards, second place is just the first loser.

The rodeo was followed by the opening ceremony, Hijack the Band, where smartphone users voted for the styles and musicians they wanted the band to perform as, and Heartbreaker, the Lover's Dilemma, where players rolled dice - or didn't - to find their true love and break as many hearts as possible. The winner broke 24 hearts!

The last event of the evening was CryptoZoo, a mad chase through the streets of New York after strange shy creatures that can only be caught by replicating their movements. The hunt began in Times Square, and with about 100 or so people running backwards, swinging around trees, jumping on posts and moving in other unusual ways, it was exhausting but super fun.

Saturday was mostly spent in Central Park, and the first game we played was Chamball, best described as a mix of tetherball and dodgeball. There is a soccer ball in a net tied to a rope
with a bit of bungee which is staked in the ground. The court is the circle the radius of the rope length, and players throw, kick, or swing the ball to knock out the other players.

You can only touch the ball from elbows to fingers and from knees to toes, and getting hit anywhere else gets you out. This is a really fun, albeit sometimes brutal game, and we played for a few hours. Since we were some of the first and last folks there we got gift certificates for free Sauconys, and I won the most games so I came home with my own Chamball setup!

Unfortunately one of us lost a bag with ID, credit cards, phone, etc. inside, so the guys went to
cancel the cards and get another phone for Seek 'n Spell the next day while I played Circle Rules Football. This is another great game with a center goal consisting of two posts and a crossbar with each team scoring from opposite directions. Teams try to get an exercise ball through the goal by punching, kicking, dribbling, pretty much anything that doesn't involve holding the ball. The game I played was really close, and my team lost by just one point.

Both Chamball and Circle Rules Football are two games I'd like to get going in SF since they're tons of fun, social, have pretty easy setups and no local organizers. Not sure when that might happen, but stay tuned for details.

The evening was spent back at COaP's headquarters at the Tank, where the first game was Pitfall! Live at the Tank. Yes, a live-action version of the classic video game where players swung on a rope attached to the stage's ceiling across alligators and pits projected onto the stage's screen. Every bit as wonderful as you would imagine. Sadly, as with most video games, I failed miserably on the first couple attempts. But no less fun by any means.

This was followed by the Player Party at the Tank, but didn't stick around for much of that as after hours of play in the park we were HUNGRY. So ate dinner and then sang karaoke. The amazing real kind of karaoke where you have a room to yourself for a 20-person sing-a-long and don't have to listen to strangers' off-key solos.

Sunday was much more mellow with Seek 'n Spell prep occupying the morning, the event itself in the early afternoon, and the awards ceremony afterwards. This was the hands-down highlight of the weekend as Seek 'n Spell won the award for Best Use of Technology! Definitely want to throw out a well-deserved congratulations to the other winners of the Come Out and Play Awards:
  • Best New Sport - Circle Rules Football
  • Best Use of Space - Ran Some Ransom
  • Best Spectacle - Pitfall! Live at the Tank
  • Best Use of Narrative - CryptoZoo
  • Players' Choice - Groove Moove
  • Best in Fest - Circle Rules Football
And I'd like to add well done to all the other designers. There wasn't a game that I played and didn't enjoy, and from talking to the folks who played what I didn't, this seemed to be the general consensus.

The only disappointing part of the weekend was that we didn't get a chance to play all the games, but the ones I went to were all crazy fun. Sadly we don't have any photo or video documentation of the weekend ourselves, but there's a ton of pics of everything on Flickr from those handy with a camera.

The weekend was super busy, and we spent pretty much all the time playing games and hanging out with other folks attending the festival, so there wasn't as much time as I would have liked to explore the city and whatnot, but altogether it was a really fantastic weekend. New Yorkers be sure to set some time aside to make it out for Come Out and Play 2010! Very excited to see what will be there next year.

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