Our next Playful Social is coming up on 3 May – a chance to get to know artists, makers and playful people from our Network over a drink and a few games. This week, Coney’s General Manager Rowan talks about why that might just be the best way to meet new people:
I think the phrase I fear most in the world is “tell me about yourself”. It’s used all the time when meeting new people – and yet it’s a singularly difficult starting point. It’s far too vague to generate a good conversation, and it creates a ton of pressure to decide in the moment what is most interesting about yourself. For an introvert like me, that’s a recipe for a rabbit-in-the-headlights moment.
This is why one of my favourite things about Coney is the playful introduction. Many of our workshops and Network events kick off with a short game challenging the people in the room to ask good questions – for example, pairing up and interviewing one another to discover three talents each person has. Other times, you might be diving straight into a playtest. It doesn’t much matter whether the thing you’re playing is a very simple icebreaker or an elaborate systems game; for me, the playful context of a shared aim and a rule or two takes a lot of the nervousness out of meeting new people.
What’s more, it gets you straight into the good stuff. Play is a brilliant way to get a sense of what someone is actually like, beyond the small-talk mainstays of what they do for a job, where they live, and what they think of the weather. You can get insights into their strengths, their sense of humour, their approach to teamwork and, if you’re playing something physical like Coin Jousting, you might just get a glimpse of their ability to perform gravity-defying leaps whilst keeping a 10p piece balanced on their hand.
Even if you already know a person, playing a game with them can uncover delightful bits of serendipity that might not otherwise have surfaced. This happens within the Coney team all the time. During an intro game at a recent Network Exchange, it turned out that both Ting (Coney’s Production Placement) and I are learning to swingdance. Last week, while the HQ team were playtesting some games in development, we stumbled across the fact that all the people in the room have a nemesis (though probably not the same one). Who knows what else could come out of the woodwork?
People are endlessly surprising, and playfulness at its best is a chance to get past the routine questions and onto the interesting stuff that builds a real connection. And once those connections are made, you never know where they’ll lead. I’ve been at Coney long enough now to see several introductions turn into more, whether that means becoming a regular at Network events, doing a placement at HQ, or even making a project together.
That’s a huge part of what our Playful Socials are about. As well as Coney introducing ourselves and our own work, Socials are a way of opening the door to new connections with and between members of our Network in a way that’s not just easy, but fun. We want to get a conversation going, even if you’ve never met anyone in the room before. So even if you’ve never been to a Network event, why not drop in and say hello this time? I promise I won’t ask you to tell me about yourself.
The next Playful Social is 6-8pm on 3 May, in the Arts Bar & Café at Toynbee Studios. It’s completely free but spaces are limited, so please let us know if you’re coming by RSVPing here.