A day played in Battersea

Last Sunday, Coney hosted a Day of Play with Battersea Arts Centre. This was an open event, open to all to play and make play, with a mixture of planned play and space for spontaneous ideas to erupt. We shacked up in BAC’s splendid Grand Hall for the afternoon, with a tableful of snacks as fuel.


Whilst Venice as a Dolphin covered the floor in colourful tape in preparation for The Eschaton, we warmed up by playing Ninja, a favourite game from Manchester to Melbourne. Players strike ninja poses and try to eliminate opponents by swooping in turn to attempt to swipe the backs of their hands, complete with ninja sound effects.


I Think We’re Alone Now
We wanted to take advantage of the space we’d been given and looked for ways to use the Grand Hall playfully. The eight sets of double doors in and out of the Grand Hall struck us as a feature ripe for playmaking, and so the group devised a game from scratch called I Think We’re Alone Now. Only two players could be in the Grand Hall at any one time and they would serenade each other with a line from a classic love song (power ballads abounding). If they each sang a different song then one would leave through a double door and the person in place behind that door enter to start a new serenade. We would be the winning couple if we could sing the same lovesong together – so players ran around the corridors trying to find the right door to enter in time to meet their true love – if we could lift each other up where we belonged before everyone else rushed in to tear us apart. This could definitely develop beyond the energetic karaoke it resembled.


Playful Secret Agent Missions
Some of us went out on reconnaissance of the locality to devise small missions to do something lovely for a stranger. Reports are still coming in, but include a plan to adapt this rather sinister sensor-equipped parking machine into something lovelier.



A Gossiping Town
We playtested this revision of The Gossip Game, the game engine of A Small Town Anywhere by Coney. Players assembled themselves into families, into tribes, then took citizen roles, decided their own filthy secrets, who they wanted to help and who to hate… gossip then ensured. We must report that after many scandalous rumours were outed, the Woodcutter and the Bailiff, the delectable Chanteuse and the Sergeant, and the Doctor and the Bookmaker are all happily married, and the crooked Mayor was successfully exiled. The learning from playing this rather dastardly town will help design a better game engine to motor play in the upcoming return of A Small Town Anywhere at BAC in May.


The Eschaton
The Eschaton is a game design excavated from a 100-page description of play inside David Foster Wallace’s behemoth novel Infinite Jest. It’s like War Games played by bored kids in a tennis academy. Venice As A Dolphin devised, designed and ran The Eschaton, marking out a world map on the floor in coloured tape… hello Australasia!


…and dividing us into factions of the USA, Russia, China, Syria, Iraq and Israel. Tennis balls are nuclear missiles, rackets their launchers, buckets their targets to place on top of various plastic cities.


Here are the missile launchers of Team USA.



It then combined turns of diplomacy and threats of nuclear tennis action, as uneasy alliances tried to keep the world from the brink of all-out tennis war. Despite averting the Bay Of Pigs and a Middle East stand-off, the tensions between the USA and the rest of the world erupted into tennis ball Armageddon and the annihilation of civilisation. The Cold War was ever this.



A most playful day rounded off in the Fox and Hounds pub garden. Thanks to all who came and played, to Venice as a Dolphin for bringing The Eschaton, and to BAC for co-hosting with us.


If you’re interested in joining the mailing list for future days of play and other open events, drop us a line to playday@coneyhq.org.

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