A gamers’ paradise: playARK’s alternative games festival

July 4, 2012 No Comments »

playARK will host a free alternative games festival at Chapter Arts Centre this Saturday. Here the team behind the event talk about what you can expect from the day, and how they hope games will help people to challenge their environment in Cardiff, as well as have fun.

For the third year running, playARK are hosting Cardiff’s very own alternative games festival. The festival this year is once again supported by Chapter Arts Centre and Yello Brick, and aims to give a flavour of games and play that are taking place from street right through to digital games. Joint games organiser Alison John comments:

“There is a definite theme this year. We have a lot of collaborative games which challenge the way people work together to move forward. For example, our headline game RENGA by Wall Four is a mass-multiplayer cinematic laser game that involves over 100 people.”

“Everyone has to work together solving problems. Without each individual working together the game cannot be won.”

“I am really proud that we have managed to get such a ground breaking game to Cardiff and hope we can get as many people as possible to come and play it.”

The games festival will also see Rules of Play bring a selection of board games for people to play. We have also got some great digital games from Newport University and Make & See, who will be hosting an Augmented Reality (AR) blow football game on iPads.

The festival is a unique event in Wales, as it is also the only place where you can play pervasive street games. For us these are the really exciting bit about games and the public interactions they create. The idea of playing in the built environment is coming together with new technologies and blurring peoples’ beliefs of what public spaces can be used for, streets become running tracks, the baton a mobile phone, making every space in the city your very own playground.

However, it’s not just about having fun and playing games, there are elements within the idea of games, and in particular pervasive street games that are hugely important to playARK and it’s wider organisation thinkARK. The idea of reinterpreting the urban environment and challenging what it can be is hugely interesting.

Co-founder of thinkARK and playARK Julian Sykes said:

“Since we setup thinkARK we have always been fascinated in how we might be able to create projects that respond to issues within Cardiff. These may be transport issues, or social issues, they may be big issues or small.”

“Over the last three years we have developed numerous projects through thinkARK. What really interested me with games was the idea and the power of these games to change the idea of what public spaces could be. They change people’s perceptions even if it is only for a short time. It’s still early days but we hope in the future we can bring all of these ideas together.”

The games festival starts at 1pm on Saturday July 7, it’s free to take part in the games on offer, but tickets need to be reserved for the headline RENGA game. This can be done through the Chapter box office.

thinkARK is a volunteer group that meets every Wednesday. The group hope to work with the people of Cardiff to develop events and projects that respond to issues within Cardiff. The issues range from sustainability issues right through to general social issues. Everyone is welcome to join thinkARK and their weekly meetings are a way of getting to know what projects they have on the go at one time.

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