Come Out and Play

Posted: September 28, 2006 at 10:26 pm in games, nyc

My life, it is busy.

Let’s do the quick update of every night since my last post on Monday, September 19th, when I went to the Social Media Club.

Tuesday: Stayed home and studied. My only day without interaction outside of work in the last three weeks

Wednesday and Thursday: Class (my normal Tuesday class was moved to Thursday due to a scheduling conflict).

Friday: Sailing out in the Hudson with Sasha and Ann. Unlike last time, it was windy and crowded out on the water. Lots of four-foot wakes rolling by, which made this trip less of an idyllic sunset cruise and more of a roller coaster ride, with the whole boat tipping over to crazy angles, or coming half out of the water when going over a wave. Lots of fun, but a lot different; when I took the tiller this time, the boat was much harder to control, and I gave it back after I almost ran us into Jersey.

Saturday and Sunday: The Come Out and Play festival. More on this below after the chronology.

Monday evening: Meeting with my group for my Corporate Finance class, so we could pull together our case study for class on Wednesday.

Tuesday and Wednesday: Class.

Thursday (tonight): Was scheduled for my night off, but then I saw that NYPL Live was hosting a discussion between Chris Anderson of Long Tail fame and Larry Lessig, who I think is awesome (I’ve read 2.5 of his books and loved seeing him speak a couple years ago). So I had to go to that.

Friday (tomorrow): Going to try to check out Art (212), which is free tomorrow evening, $15 otherwise.

This weekend: I could do Wired NextFest or BarCamp, but I think I need a weekend off. Too busy! I’m not letting two nights of classes a week plus the associated homework put a crimp in my social schedule but it’s coming out of my sleep and energy schedule. Hrm.

Come Out and Play festival: Awesome. The idea is to use New York City as a gameboard for many many games. Go check out the variety of games that they were running last weekend. Or read about it at cbsnews.com. I heard about it through Jane McGonigal, who I think I heard about from either danah boyd or Henry Jenkins in the last month. There were dozens of game over the weekend, but I only participated in two.

Saturday was Cruel 2 B Kind, the world premiere of one of Jane McGonigal’s games. The idea is that all of the players arrive in the same public space, where they are text messaged a weapon of kindness and a weakness for kindness. They must go up to other people in the area, and “assault” them with their weapon of kindness. If they attack another team, and the weapon is that team’s weakness, they defeat the team and subsume them. If they attack another team, but don’t hit their weakness, the other team must respond “You are too kind”. If they attack a random person who just happens to be in the playing field, that’s when the fun starts.

In this case, the playing field was Broadway between 48th and 58th. Ann and I broke our fast at Empanada Mama’s (sooooo good), and then headed over. We got there a few minutes early, checked in via text message, and then started scoping for other teams. Since all teams started off as pairs, we were looking for pairs of people with a cell phone ready to hand. This turned out to be relatively easy to do.

At 12:30, we were text messaged our weapon (wish people a “spectacular day”) and our weakness (I can’t remember – perhaps it was being wished a “delicious day”). We had pegged another group near us as being in the game. We walked up to them. I had on my Cubs hat, had out a tourist map, put on my best clueless expression and said “Excuse me, do you know which way Rockefeller Center is?” while thrusting the map at them. They pointed it out to me, I said thanks, and Ann and I said “Have a spectacular day!” They looked at us with this dawning look of horror and said “Wait, you’re in the game?!” It was wonderful. And we’d killed them. Bwa hahahaha.

We pulled the same ruse on two more teams before we got another one. By then we were up to 8 or so people, and the stealth option was lost to us. We didn’t adjust tactics quick enough, and were ambushed by a two person team before we got organized. Oops.

Never fear, our group of ten went on to take out another large group, and suddenly we were 25 or so. This was when things started to get a bit ridiculous. Our secret weapon at this point was offering to help people. So whenever we saw any group that might be another team, even if they were across the street, we yelled “Can we help you?!?” And they’d yell back “You are too kind! We love your shoes!” And we’d yell “You are too kind!” Meanwhile, the tourists waiting for the matinee Broadway shows were wondering what the HELL was going on.

We also had some pretty great reactions from deploying our weapon on unsuspecting passersby. One of them looked us up and down and just said “No” when we asked if we could help him. Most people just looked confused and intimidated.

A fun time was had by all, although it got a bit slow towards the end since no team who was vulnerable to our weapon got within a block of us because we were shouting it so indiscriminately. It would have been nice for the larger groups to get their weapons switched out more (they redeployed weapons occasionally during the game via text message) because we ended up just walking up and down the street for 45 minutes yelling “Can we help you?!”

For those that are interested in reading more, check out the account from the eventual game winners or this CNET article.

Then I went home and took a two hour nap, spent two hours talking to Christy and then Jofish, and then failed to study. Too much excitement.

But wait, there’s more!


On Sunday, Ann and Niko (no, not that one) and Jocelyn and I went out for dim sum before meeting up with Mira to go play the Go Game, which was basically an experiential scavenger hunt through Greenwich Village. We were issued a cell phone and a camera. I called the team Project Eris, in honor of both chaos and of the recently named dwarf planet, which a friend of mine co-discovered. The rest of the afternoon, we were issued missions via the cell phone which often had to be documented by the camera. Among other things, we had to have a mock kung-fu fight with a Matrix-y woman, explain social networking sites to a “grandmother” knitting in a Starbucks, stage a tabloid photo with Batgirl (see below), mock up a video game (we chose Pong), etc. They even posted all the game photos (you may have to login – use username nehrlich, password nehrlich and then go back to that link). Plus there were run around the Village missions where we had to enter a local establishment, find some piece of information and send it back to HQ, e.g. go to a Gristedes, find the “most patriotic section” (lots of flags), and look for the green dessert topping (maraschino cherries), and then find the ingredient it shared with antifreeze (we spent way too much time on this trying to google for stuff – we should have just guessed and moved on). But it was fun. Then we all met up back at a local bar for the judging portion, where we got to see what others had down. I think my favorites were the staged photo of Batgirl snorting coke off a dead hustler, and the amazing mockup video the winning team did of Katamari Damacy, where they ended up all rolled up in one big ball (after picking up lots of little things first). It was a fun time, and a good excuse to go run around New York with friends for an afternoon.

And now I shall shut up. I’d originally planned to write a couple blog posts tonight, but maybe tomorrow.

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2 Responses to “Come Out and Play”

  1. jacob Says:

    I’m pretty sure maraschino cherries and antifreeze are mostly water, right? Or is it less of a puzzle and more of a “look up the ingredients on Google”?

  2. Eric Nehrlich, Unrepentant Generalist || Playing the Lost Sport || June || 2008 Says:

    [...] a fan of Jane McGonigal for a few years now, and enjoyed playing her Cruel 2 B Kind game in the Come Out and Play festival two years ago. So when she said she was running another game in this year’s festival, I signed [...]

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