Tag Archives: games

Day 4, Newbury, New Bury or Newboroughy?


In the hope of sounding like a BBC community fundraiser, I’ll call Thursday ‘The Big Make’ . This update is brought to you by Sue Perkins, James Cordon and Flowella Benjamin. 

We started off deciding exactly which 6 interruptions we would try out with the public on Friday.

We knuckled down to:

‘Octopus’ – a development agency working with local think-tanks to find innovative ways to build more housing in Newboroughy. These include treehouse studios over burial plots, apartment blocks within roundabouts and the private renovation of a beloved heritage landmark.

Side note: We appropriated a Ferguson design for the roundabout idea, superimposing Lennox House into Robin Hood Roundabout. Lennox House was designed by John MacGregor- ‘The Artichoke’ in 1935. Built for London housing associations, it consists of 35 floats over a central atrium. Originally the atrium was to be a covered market that would subsidise the residential, but a planning law changed and it ended up having to be all housing. 

‘Location, Location, Location’ – audio installations giving estate agent tours of unique properties, including a sewer, an alleyway and a bin. 

‘House Sitting’ – an on street gameshow based on actual property prices where sitting tight earns you the big bucks.

‘Lego Legislation’ – a game where developers compete to pitch for land. 5 years is sped up to 5 minutes and that pesky legislation just keeps on changing!! (thanks to Liz Beth or LB Planning for all the help on this one)

‘NewBury’- Place-making meets Art Attack, a community co-creation task playing with the idea of a perfect town. We use chalk, building blocks and creative tech to play in an ever changing space.

‘Precarious and Proud’ a throne set up on the high street dedicated to celebrating those not-on-the-property-ladder, raising awareness about the lack of rent caps. People can have their photo taken on the throne and we hold an awards ceremony later in the day. 

It was a really long, but absolutely brilliant day of recording, writing, designing and making. The gang was absolutely terrific, it is so wonderful to have such  check team on this project. Everyone 100% reliable and pulling some brilliant stuff out of the bag. I won’t harp on, have a look at the pictures and I’lll update you on the public sharing next week. 

Day 2 at 101

Once again the sun was shining, hight temperatures with a  holiday-ish feel, all be in strange surroundings – we are staying at 101 Outdoor Creation Space which is at the former military base by Greenham Common. Our accommodation takes the form of box-park style cabins adjoining the warehouse. inside are a mix or spaces for fabricating, rehearsing, meeting and eating. We’re in the dance studio and next to us are Theatre Temoin, another Without Walls Blueprint R&D company who are redeveloping a show for the outdoor arts. Sharing the space with another group of artists allows opportunities to reflect on the making with others as it happens, and good gameplay at the end of the day- last night in the form of Labyrinth , a board game about opening and closing pathways. 

We started the day welcoming two new members of the gang, Rowan James and Katie Storer. Katie has worked with Mufti games many times and is a game inventing guru, while Rowan has come in as ‘access provocateur.’ While working on MASSIVE BATTLESHIPS in 2015, we wanted to effectively open it out to Deaf audiences. Our version of the Naval guessing game uses visual signals to send co-ordinates over long distance, so it made sense to ensure the whole experience was accessible to Deaf audiences. I phoned Shape Arts at the time and had a conversation with Nick who said-  (I‘m paraphrasing) ‘yes, fine- but what about wheelchair access, how about sight? Whats your experience then?’ His style was very direct and his comments stuck, so when I was putting together this team, creating a show that would be in public space about a universal right and need- housing, it felt right to advertise for a provocateur to shake up our concepts of accessibility and force us to think about how we deliver this work in an inclusive way.

Rowan gave a short talk to kick things off then spent the day working with us as a devisor, but asking us to think about things in a different way. “I don’t identify as disabled as something that is wrong with me, i use it politically, as a mode of power.” He was interested in this project because there is a clear link between disability and poverty within the housing crisis. He asked us to think about  when we have been uncertain, in housing and to think about what we can’t do- how we are disabled. He talked about arranging spaces to be wheelchair accessible and generally to be friendly, including and just think about other peoples needs. If our work contains instructions, then to pitch them in a range of ways that don’t target anyone. A headphone experience for instance in is quite common now, and allows opportunity to create audio description. Written instructions can use a range of language, and pictures to get across an idea. 

Next, we headed off into Newbury on reconnaissance, looking at where our games might sit in the public realm. 

I introduced the group to #oneplaything, an exercise we started playing with at Counterplay Leeds. It’s a simple provocation- using chalk, you write invitations or playful instructions in public spaces in order to allow the reader to consider the space in  playful way, or have a different perspective on the space. It might be as bold as JUMP! or it might be a snakes and ladders board. We evolved into provoking thought about housing, a drain with a chalk sign ‘£495 PCM, own swimming pool’ and a property ladder hopscotch. We also lay seeds: “what used to be here?” “what could be next?” outside an  empty shop. #oneplaything is a great, simple provocation to play the city. We’ve been encouraging people to take part and some, like Lynn Parker have been really dedicated. Put #oneplaything into Twitter and start your own #oneplaything games where you live. 

We also visited a church yard and felt how different the space was from the surrounding high streets. An immediate oasis as you walked through the archway- suddenly you could hear birdsong, smell flowers and felt peace. 

Post lunch we started putting the work into action. We played with 6 ideas: 

  • A landlord and tenant version of the boat riddle.
  • Audio installation tours of skips, back alleys and corners, ala ‘Location, Location, Location’
  • Nursery rhymes as housing games- Goldilocks letting out the 3 bears house, 3 Little Pigs ( no explanation needed!), Billy Goats Gruff and the troll.
  • An auctioning game, playing with the difficulty of generation rent becoming generation own
  • we played with contact mics, building blocks and conducive tape and experimenting with ideas around group building tasks on the street
  • a snakes and ladders game that looks at lobbying and policy making

We ended the day on a really high having played with so many ideas and seeing how they might play out in a city. 

Now, back into the Labyrinth of theatre making. Today, we find our Ferguson’s Gang. I’ll be back with more later, so long as I pass the initiation!!!

Written by ‘The Mouse’

Play in ritual: Indian Wedding.

I have recently been to Delhi, India for a wedding. I was aware that there would be a great deal of ceremony, of ritual and I know a little about some playful traditions but I had no idea just how many games and how much play would be involved-in similar and very different ways to western weddings.

It was a Hindu wedding, a Vedic Brahmin marriage ceremony.  Games and play featured throughout the two days in a general sense, and in very specific elements too. There were times when free play just happened (of free will, by choice, self generated) and when people were instructed to play as part of the ceremony.

note: we were given booklets explaining the ceremony-anything in italics with inverted commas comes from the booklet.

Day one-the engagement, which featured rituals “known collectively under the name vratham”.

The outdoor area of our house, (essentially a car port) was beautifully transformed into a   celebratory space, decorating it with bright coloured material and flowers. Chairs and tables were decorated and of course food was prepared. The day started with Henna. Everyone was invited to have henna applied and the henna artists instead on bringing their own playlist to really liven up the morning! Henna was a great way to bring strangers together because as one has to let the henna dry, groups of people must stand with arms extended in odd positions for most of the morning. The shared silliness of the physicality and the collective avoidance of brushing against anything created a lot of fun and laughter. The father of the grooms impulsive ‘hands in pockets’ was a classic example.

Drummers soon arrived and the dancing began. Children retreated due to the volume, but they formed their own dance circle at a distance, and proceeded to tear and throw masses of flower petals, creating a maelstrom of blossom and naughty-ness.

Bottled water is a big feature of Delhi, as tap water is undrinkable and I loved how the mass of tiny bottles became play apparatus. All manner of throwing and tossing games were played, versions of cricket, bowling, catch, juggling. Skill was found in the amount of water left in bottles, in spin, hight and distance.

Throughout the afternoon rites were performed and family members had their parts to play. The main players were instructed where to stand, what to do, what the rules were and we as onlookers took in the uniting of families, communities and  our two loved ones.

Day two-the wedding or the Muhurtham took place at a temple across town. Rituals are of course carried through from distant times and although we live our lives differently, we continue the actions in a ceremony. This means we are often acting out stories, playing at being the characters of our ancestors.  This gave the shape to much of the days games.

The groom was “equipped with an umbrella, a walking stick, a palm leaf and a pair of footwear….ready to start on a trip to a foreign location…the city of Benares..a reputed centre of learning and dwelling place of many learned men”. The groom has two options-pursue higher levels of learning or get married. The brides family then persuade him to get married and to their bride. At this point, the groom must make out as if his mind is not yet made up try to make a run for it, several times while the brides family contain him. Bride and groom are life onto shoulders by friends and attempt throw garlands over each other.

The couple are then placed on a swing-to signify the ups and owns of married life and rituals carried on around them. One featured rice balls being thrown over shoulders, often almost hitting onlookers.

During all of this, was my favourite game of the wedding. I had come across it when researching wedding celebrations for Just So festival last year, but had no idea the stakes were so high!

The brides sisters, or female friends will try to steal the grooms shoes. If successful, the groom must buy back his shies before he can leave. It doesn’t matter if the shoes cost 99p-he can’t be married until he pays for them, and the price can go into hundreds of pounds!

We knew about the game in advance, so were ready (or so we thought). As soon as Groom’s  shoes were off, I put them on my feet. Oh and did the ‘sisters’ notice! Across the crowd eyes could be seen flashing around, down to me feet and knowing glances exchanged. We upped stakes by separating shoes, handing one to another guest. Everywhere we went, eyes watched us and whispers followed. The game was going well, but I felt it was a little skewed to our side, so I entrusted my shoe to a friend and walked barefoot across the temple, just to confuse the ‘sisters’. Ah, but how my confidence did undo me. The shoe was passed to the grooms mother-who was not warned of the stakes and quick as a flash, the sisters had it.

‘Ah! but you only have one’-I laughed

‘No. We have both.’

‘Eh?!’ Catastrophe!

A friend of the bride, from York no less, had been recruited as a double agent by the sisters! She had been staying with the family for a week. How silly of us to trust her! She simply walked up to mother and brother of groom, asked for the shoes and they gave them. Foiled! We managed to negotiate down to £100 in the end, and the brother paid, fessing up to his folly. Gosh-it was a brilliant game! I’m sure you’ll see versions of it in future Mufti Games missions!

Later, we came back together for ‘Nalangu’-a playful evening of indoor games. Essentially this section was a way of gamifying the rituals. Historically the couple may have been linked at a very young age, the games got the children used to the idea of ritual. The games kept the couple entertained and as they may also be strangers, they would break down barriers and allow the couple to get to know each other through play. Games at Nalangu included pretending to cook and groom each other, rolling and grabbing a coconut, decorating the bride with flowers, bride and groom singing to each other and the brilliant ‘smashing of poppadoms’ over each others heads!

Although these were very prescribed games, and were played under instruction from an elder, they were fun and celebratory and could break down barriers to allow a life of playfulness together.

The evening I got talking to Indian guests about the ceremony, about ‘hinduism’ and about language. I know that Mufti was an Urdu word and meant amongst other things ‘legal scholar’ but I had heard that it also related to a Hindi word related to play. One definition of ‘play’ is ‘a physical or mental leisure activity that is undertaken purely for enjoyment or amusement and has no other objective’.

Happily that evening I was informed that in Hindi, ‘Muft’ simply means ‘free’.

Mufti Games at Eden Project

We are very pleased to have both MASSIVE BATTLESHIPS and L_ve Hangman playing all week at Eden Project in beautiful Cornwall. Our games are part of Game On, an event spanning all this half term.


As well as our games you can join in a Subbuteto Championship, build a marble run,  immerse yourself in virtual reality, play loads of different board games and get stuck into Unstable King’s awesome Cardboard Arcade. Its worth going for a few days just to fit it all in!

So get along to Eden Project for a brilliant week of games!

L_ve Hangman at the Barbican 21st March

We’ll be playing L_ve Hangman in the big smoke next weekend  at the Barbican Centre. They have also commissioned us to make a new game………Classification Station!

“We have been collecting collections from all over the place.
But disaster has struck, some of them have been muddled up!
Dinosaurs jumbled with spanners, brushes with toy cars.
Can you help us organise our objects?”

Its all part of the brilliant exhibition Magnificent Obsessions exhibition, have a look here

So, to see play both of these great games come see us….

Garden Room, floor 3, Barbican Centre, Silk Street

21st March

L_ve Hangman 11:30-12:00, 13:30-14:00 15:00-15:30

Classification Station all day, drop in.