This year, Now Play This explores the relationship between play, games and the climate crisis. Due to the pandemic, we are once again running a fully online festival. Join us for a four-day programme of games, workshops and conversations, where each day shifts a different aspect of the festival’s theme into focus!

The programme is free and accessible for all, but if you enjoy what Now Play This does and can support the festival, please consider getting a pay-what-you-feel festival pass. (You can even print it out and wear it as a lanyard!).

Thursday: What do you need to have fun?

From simple children’s games to real-time multiplayer environments, play experiences are facilitated using vastly different amounts of resources. We open the festival with projects that help us think about the infrastructures behind the way we play.

Live events on Thursday 25th March

3:00pm

Flying to the Festival

Live Play Experience

Flying to the Festival

Live Play Experience

Before the pandemic, flying to festivals (including Now Play This) was a thing that many people did, making up a large portion of the environmental impact of international cultural events.

This year, you can experience the ritualistic pleasure and mind-numbing boredom of flying to a festival with far less of the carbon footprint by joining us for a special event in Hosni Auji’s Airplane Mode. As an active passenger, chat with your fellow passengers, watch an in-flight movie, relax. It’s a long flight!

A streamed play of Airplane Mode on our Twitch channel, with opportunity to get involved through Twitch chat.

In addition, players could join as an active passenger and get a seat on the plane, collectively going through the flight eperience and larping on discord.

We have a number of community copies of Airplane Mode. If the cost of the game is prohibitive in any way, please email nick@nowplaythis.net for a community copy.

March 25, 3:00 pm GMT

Hosni Auji has taken the scenic route to game development, taking up professional and/or academic endeavors in graphic design, interactive media and filmmaking, while always looking for a conceptual edge on the peripheries. In 2014, He co-designed his first game Zero Age, a 3D atmospheric puzzle adventure for iOS.

5:30pm

Opening Ceremony

Virtual Gathering

Opening Ceremony

Virtual Gathering

Join us for the opening ceremony of this year’s festival!

The playful ceremony took place in our digital festival courtyard designed by artist/game designer Tiz Creel.

Access the courtyard: Point your browser over to https://topia.io/nowplaythis  (you’ll need chrome browser)

Tiz Creel (1991) is an artist from Mexico City currently based in London. Her practice is influenced by play, spontaneity and games, as forms contingent on relations between people. For Tiz, play is the practice of becoming an ongoing exploration of the human experience. When we play, we engage fully with life and its contents to reach for the deepest truths of ordinary things and hopefully pursue greater respect and interest in the things around us. The more people open themselves, the more meaning they will find. Ultimately the meaning of the work comes prominence when the individual’s imagination transforms the objects. To play, the viewers must take the artwork on its own terms, treat it as if its existence were reasonable. The stimulation is what triggers cognitive synergy.

6:30pm

Greener Games – One Studio’s Approach to Sustainability

Talk

Greener Games – One Studio’s Approach to Sustainability

Talk

Footprints, offsets, carbon calculators, and the cloud. How can you tackle the emissions harming our planet and where should you even start? Hear from one London-based developer about their journey to carbon neutrality, and the steps they’re taking to empower their players to join them.

 This session will:

  • Demystify how a games studio goes about decarbonising
  • Share Space Ape’s practical approach to understanding and addressing the carbon footprint of their studio and games
  • Demonstrate how studios are empowering their players in their own sustainability efforts

This event was streamed live on our Twitch channel, with questions through the chat.
March 25, 6:30 pm GMT

Space Ape Games is a mobile games studio based in London with the mission of making the highest quality and most successful games on mobile.

Nic Walker has been at Space Ape Games for seven years and is primarily responsible for the infrastructure that runs their games and studio. He took on responsibility for sustainability and climate two years ago and is passionate about sharing the journey that Space Ape have taken to become climate neutral.

Deborah Mensah-Bonsu is Founder of dmb crew and its flagship initiative “Games for Good”, which focuses on helping studios and industry harness games for social impact. She was a driving force behind the Green Mobile Game Jam which reached more than 100 Million gamers about climate change, and consults for UN Environment’s Playing for the Planet.

8:00pm

Folk Game TikToks

Conversation

Folk Game TikToks

Conversation

Fascinated by the joyful, spontaneous games invented by TikTok users, Danny Hawk has been collecting and writing about folk games that are played and shared on the service over the course of the pandemic. In this talk, he presents some of his best finds and investigates what makes them special.

This event was streamed live on our Twitch channel, with questions from the chat.
March 25, 8:00 pm GMT

Danny Hawk is an independent game developer and teacher based in Brooklyn NY. He’s a co-founder of the Folk Game Game Jam, a graduate of NYU Game Center’s MFA program, and is currently working on his forthcoming game Bird Town.

Play any time

Airplane Mode

Hosni Auji

Airplane Mode

Hosni Auji

Airplane Mode explores the airline travel experience down to every last detail—from your seat and the seatback in front of you, to the contents of your carry-on bag and smartphone hard drive, to the behaviors of cabin crew and other passengers. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

How to play: Head over to the game’s page on Steam from which you can download and install the game onto your computer. Once in flight, see how you react to the absence of action. Use your mouse to click and drag things! Experiment with the pockets of agency that you can find during the flight.
We have a few community copies of Airplane Mode to offer. If the cost of the game is prohibitive in any way please send an email to nick@nowplaythis.net to request a community copy.

Hosni Auji has taken the scenic route to game development, taking up professional and/or academic endeavors in graphic design, interactive media and filmmaking, while always looking for a conceptual edge on the peripheries. In 2014, He co-designed his first game Zero Age, a 3D atmospheric puzzle adventure for iOS.

Alternative Ecologies Jam

Emilie Reed

Alternative Ecologies Jam

Emilie Reed

Ecology shares a root with economy, and in the case of videogames, these concepts seem inherently linked. There is much work to be done towards justice in these areas, but emerging games, critical writing, historical work and ways of working together in this area present exciting potential. This activity brings together experimental game design and games criticism to create a space for discussion, responses and calls to action on the theme of games, ecosystems, and economies. Contributions to the jam can be answers, considerations, calls to action or playful responses to these questions, and can take the form of a blog post, zine, comic, game, rule set or any other creative medium.

Running throughout the festival, this jam brings together critical games writing and the themes of the festival. Participants will draw from examples and contribute their own writing, micro-games, or calls to action about gaming’s relation to economic and ecological issues. Following the jam, there will be sharing sessions to reflect on everyone’s contributions.

More information on the themes of the jam, and how to join can be found here.

Emilie Reed is a curator, writer and researcher based in Glasgow who is interested in alternative histories of gaming, DIY game-making communities online and game-making tools.

 

Repurpose

Amy Strike and Tom Williams

Repurpose

Amy Strike and Tom Williams

Inspired by recycling and reusing, Repurpose invites you to look at the local places you know with fresh eyes. Following written prompts on your screen, you choose a short sequence of places to explore, gathering and repurposing things you see, hear and feel to progress on your adventure.

How To Play: 

Point your phone camera to this QR code or navigate your mobile browser to http://repurpose.nowplaythis.net

Tip: Tap on the “theme” button in the top menu to switch between light and dark mode, depending on the time of day!

Amy Strike worked for five years as a producer at Fire Hazard Games, designing and running real-world games. She produced Operation Survival, a game made in partnership with Cambridge Museums about climate change, which was mentioned in the Sustaining Great Art and Culture Environmental report, 2017/2018.

Tom Williams was founder and Director of A Door In A Wall from 2008-2020, creating live immersive games within iconic venues and around the streets of London. He has designed and produced site-specific experiences for O2 and Nokia, The National Gallery and the Camden Watch Company, as well as 20 story-driven games as public events, entertaining thousands of players.

The Land

Erin Davis

The Land

Erin Davis

In this 14-minute short cut from Erin Davis’ 2015 documentary feature The Land, we experience children learning to take risks while creating fun out of the simplest of elements: wood, rope and fire.

 

The Land is a short documentary about a Welsh adventure playground of the same name. Since its premiere at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, The Land has been used widely by educators, play advocates, designers and parents as a tool to launch robust conversations about play, risk, freedom and children’s culture.

Erin Davis is a podcast producer, documentary filmmaker and educator interested in stories with guts – whether they’re about child’s play or nuclear crisis.

Friday: You Fix The Climate

A more than 30 year long tradition of games presents the climate and environmental crisis as a problem for players to solve. What does is feel like to be responsible for the fate of the planet?

Live events on Friday 26th March

1:00pm

Climate Change Games and Research

Workshop

Climate Change Games and Research

Workshop

Games are an increasingly popular medium for climate researchers to communicate their work, engage communities, support teaching or simply have some fun. There are now games sessions at scientific conferences and climate games feature at science festivals and outreach events. At the same time, game creators are exploring the climate crisis through their stories, mechanics and interactions. Their work brings new and unexpected perspectives onto our planetary systems and relationships.

This open exchange, hosted by urban geographer and designer Jana Wendler, is an invitation to explore the hopes, fears and realities at the intersection of climate games and research. What can climate researchers and communicators learn from games and their creative approach to systems, critique and interaction? What are the limits to playful engagement? And how can we cultivate academic –creative collaborations?

The session is aimed at researchers, science communicators and public engagement specialists – as well as game creators of all kinds. We will take inspiration from the games featured at the festival to explore possibilities for dialogue and collaboration. Our ideas will be documented and will help inform the Alternative Ecologies jam.

Please register here to join the workshop, which will be facilitated via Zoom. Duration: 1 hour.
March 26, 1:00 pm GMT

Jana Wendler is an urban geographer and physical game designer based in Manchester. Her work focuses on playful, interdisciplinary and collaborative ways of connecting research and society. She is a Research Associate at the University of Manchester and runs social enterprise Playfuel Games CIC.

3:00pm

World Climate Simulation

Live Game

World Climate Simulation

Live Game

World Climate Simulation is a role-playing simulation of the UN climate change negotiations. Through the simulation, participants get to experience first-hand the necessary speed and level of action that nations must take to address global climate change. At the heart of the game is the use of a digital modelling tool, which is used to rapidly analyze the effects of the players’ negotiation.

Please sign-up here to reserve a spot in the game.
March 26, 3:00 pm GMT

The game takes around 3 hours, including an initial briefing, an active play phase in large and small groups and a debrief. The game is facilitated via Zoom.

Climate Interactive is an independent, not-for-profit think-tank that grew out of MIT Sloan in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Based on a long tradition of system dynamics modeling, our simulations and insights help people see connections, play out scenarios, and see what works to address climate change, inequity, and related issues like energy, health, and food.

Bindu Bhandari is a grassroots activist who has worked to raise youth awareness for climate change in Nepal, particularly the effects of glacial melt on fresh water sources. She plays key roles in both the Integrated Centre for Mountain Development and Wendy Global, a women’s leadership development program in Asia.

 

5:00pm

Among Ripples: Shallow Waters

Play & Talk

Among Ripples: Shallow Waters

Play & Talk

Rehabilitate lakes and rivers in a near future eco tycoon sim. Join us on Twitch as we try out the newest, and as yet unreleased demo of Among Ripples: Shallow Waters! Now Play This has been given an exclusive look at the latest version of the new game from Eat Create Sleep. We will be playing the game and chatting with the developers about the research and design choices that went into the game.

Streamed on Twitch.
March 26, 5:00 pm GMT

 

We have an exclusive look at the latest version of Among Ripples: Shallow Waters for Now Play This. If you would like to give it a try, follow these instructions:

  1. Add demo to your Steam library.
  2. Right click on game in library after you’ve downloaded the demo
  3. Properties…
  4. BETAS
  5. Enter beta access code to unlock private betas:
  6. Type in “iwannaplaythisnow”
  7. To unlock the full demo you need to subscribe to newsletter, instructions in the game, you can unsubscribe directly after.

Eat Create Sleep is an independent game studio situated in the medieval town of Visby, Sweden. Our focus is on innovative gameplay experiences with a lot of heart and meaningful themes. We ask tough questions with our games and let the player explore the answers.

6:30pm

Cards against the Climate Crisis

Play & Talk

Cards against the Climate Crisis

Play & Talk

Join us for a streamed play and talk session with the designers of the games Ecologic and Carbon City Zero! Both of these modern card and board games address the climate crisis in different ways, from balancing extracting minerals from the landscape whilst offsetting damages, to cooperatively developing a sustainable city.

During the stream, you’ll learn how to play the games and get to know some of the thinking behind each project. Following this we invite you to head to our community space for an online boardgame cafe where you can find a group to try the games with and discuss the ideas behind them even further.

Streamed on Twitch on March 26, 6:30 pm GMT

Carbon City Zero: World Edition is a revised second edition of the climate action game Carbon City Zero. This edition is a collaborative deck-building game for 1-4 people in which players develop a sustainable city by greening transport, transforming industries, and getting citizens on board.

Ecologic is a unique strategic game from Russia. Do you have what it takes to build a fully sustainable mining company from scratch? You’ll need some strategic thinking, flexibility to deal with unexpected events and, most importantly, good understanding of sustainability! Manage your finances and environmental impact to reach the best balance between the two!

 

Play any time

Among Ripples: Shallow Waters

Eat Create Sleep

Among Ripples: Shallow Waters

Eat Create Sleep

Among Ripples: Shallow Waters is an eco tycoon sim. Work with your team of scientists to build, repair and maintain the delicate ecosystem of your lakes in this near future setting. Experiment with flora and fauna – everything from vicious pikes to peaceful puddle ducks. Now Play This is excited to share an exclusive look at the latest, as-yet-unreleased, version of the game.

How To Play: You can download a demo of the game from the project’s steam page.

Throughout the festival, an exclusive code to access the latest version will be available here.

To access it:
  1. Add demo to your Steam library.
  2. Right click on game in library after you’ve downloaded the demo
  3. Properties…
  4. BETAS
  5. Enter beta access code to unlock private betas:
  6. Type in “iwannaplaythisnow”
  7. To unlock the full demo you need to subscribe to the newsletter, instructions in the game, you can unsubscribe directly after.

 

Eat Create Sleep is an independent game studio situated in the medieval town of Visby, Sweden. Our focus is on innovative gameplay experiences with a lot of heart and meaningful themes. We ask tough questions with our games and let the player explore the answers.

Balance of the Planet

Chris Crawford

Balance of the Planet

Chris Crawford

Released in 1990, Chris Crawford’s Balance of the Planet is a policy simulation game that asks players to influence the development of the planet by demotivating or incentivising behaviour through taxes and subsidies.

How to Play: Today, you can play the game in your browser by heading over to the Internet Archive’s repository of the game. Take your time to explore the “ancient” game interface via the different options in the game menu on the top left. The game starts in the year 1990. The Results page (Keyboard shortcut “r”) shows you how you’re currently doing. Read and modify policies currently in effect on the Policy Sumary page (Keyboard shortcut “p”). Once you’re happy with your changes, click on “Execute Policies” in the menu (Keyboard shortcut “e”) to move ahead 5 years and see the new results. You only have 9 turns in total! For the extra-adventurous: Click on “Formulas” to modify how the game calculates the effects of your decisions.

Q & A: Chris Crawford will be answering questions about the game and its history on the Now Play This community forum. Just ask your questions in this thread – Chris will check in from time to time during the festival!

Chris Crawford sold his first computer game in 1978, joined Atari in 1979, and led Games Research there. During his time at Atari, he wrote The Art of Computer Game Design. After Atari collapsed in 1984, Chris became a freelance computer game designer. Chris has 14 published computer games to his credit—all of which he designed and programmed himself. He founded, edited, and wrote most of The Journal of Computer Game Design, the first periodical devoted to game design. He founded and led the Computer Game Developers’ Conference (now the Game Developers’ Conference) in its early years. Chris has lectured on game design and interactive storytelling at conferences and universities all over the world.

Chris is currently working on an new version of the game that will be made available for no charge at http://erasmatazz.com/ in a month or two.

Carbon City Zero: World Edition

Sam Illingworth & Paul Wake

Carbon City Zero: World Edition

Sam Illingworth & Paul Wake

Carbon City Zero: World Edition is a revised second edition of the climate action game Carbon City Zero. This edition is a collaborative deck-building game for 1-4 people in which players develop a sustainable city by greening transport, transforming industries, and getting citizens on board.

How To Play: Click here to launch a new play session, that you can then invite others to join.
For a quick run through the rules watch this video.

If you want to skip reading the rules, join our “Cards against the Climate Crisis” event on Twitch to learn the game and get to know the designers.

Dr Sam Illingworth is an Associate Professor in Academic Practice at Edinburgh Napier University whose work involves using poetry and games to develop dialogue between different communities. You can find out more about his work and research via his website.

Dr Paul Wake is Reader in English at Manchester Metropolitan University whose research explores games and narrative theory. You can find out more about his work and research here.

 

Ecologic

Vitalijs Rodins

Ecologic

Vitalijs Rodins

Ecologic is a unique strategic game from Russia. Do you have what it takes to build a fully sustainable mining company from scratch? You’ll need some strategic thinking, flexibility to deal with unexpected events and, most importantly, good understanding of sustainability! Manage your finances and environmental impact to reach the best balance between the two!

How To Play: You can play a virtual version of this board game with friends in your browser using the platform Tabletopia. Click here to launch a new play session, that you can then invite others to join. If you want to skip reading the rules, join our “Cards against the Climate Crisis” event on Twitch to learn the game and get to know the designers.

Ecologic Game by Alexey Kolmakov, Marat Sabirov, Vitalijs Rodins, Irina Kozban

Born in Latvia, Vitalijs Rodins has higher education in chemistry, environment and health. He discovered Ecologic in 2013, when the first version of the game had just been developed. He got immediately interested in both its thematic and gameplay aspects. He has participated in further development of Ecologic and its translation into English. Now Vitalijs lives in Germany, does his doctoral studies in environmental epidemiology, and actively participates in organizing local board game events. Vitalijs has fully adapted Ecologic for Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator.

Saturday: Beyond Repair

Challenging the notion that the climate crisis can be solved or fixed by players, we go “beyond repair” with critical work that directly addresses the powers behind environmental destruction and imagines futures in which the damage has become irreparable.

Live events on Saturday 27th March

11:00am

Alternative Ecologies Mid-Jam Meetup

Mid-Jam Meetup

Alternative Ecologies Mid-Jam Meetup

Mid-Jam Meetup

Head over to our discord to join a casual meetup mid-way through the jam! Meet other jammers, find support and inspiration. This is also a great moment to dive into the jam if you didn’t have a chance to get started before.

Running throughout the festival, the Alternative Ecologies Jam brings together critical games writing and the themes of the festival. Participants will draw from examples and contribute their own writing, micro-games, or calls to action about gaming’s relation to economic and ecological issues.

More information on the themes of the jam, and how to join can be found here.

Emilie Reed is a curator, writer and researcher based in Glasgow who is interested in alternative histories of gaming, DIY game-making communities online and game-making tools.

3:00pm

Games about Bad Actors

Play & Talk

Games about Bad Actors

Play & Talk

Artists Nicholas O’Brien and Marloes de Valk (creators of The Last Survey and Villains and Heroes) join the Now Play This team to play the two games and discuss games that explicitly explore bad actors in terms of the climate crisis. Both games can be played throughout the festival, see the Play Any Time section for more.

Streamed on our Twitch channel
March 27, 3:00 pm GMT

Marloes de Valk (NL) is a software artist and writer in the post-despair stage of coping with the threat of global warming and being spied on by the devices surrounding her. Surprised by the obsessive dedication with which we, even post-Snowden, share intimate details about ourselves to an often not too clearly defined group of others, astounded by the deafening noise we generate while socializing with the technology around us, she is looking to better understand why.

Nicholas O’Brien is a net-based artist, curator, and writer researching Games, Digital Art, and Network Culture. He currently lives in Brooklyn and is Assistant Professor in 3D Design and Game Development at Stevens Institute of Technology.

 

5:00pm

Imagining Post-Climate Crisis Worlds

Play & Talk

Imagining Post-Climate Crisis Worlds

Play & Talk

The creators of Venice 2089 and Even in Arcadia join the Now Play This team to discuss games that look at a future in which it might be too late. Venice 2089 explores a future Venice suffering from city-destroying floods from the point of view of a teenager, and Even in Arcadia posits the idea of single use planets through its cosmic-capitalist narrative. We’ll play the two games and explore how the character development and narrrative environments of the two projects present possible futures.

This event was streamed on our Twitch channel on March 27, 5:00 pm GMT

Safe Place is a newly formed independent game studio set in Italy.

Phoebe Shalloway (any pronouns) is a game developer and writer from the United States. They are especially interested in experimental narrative forms, interdisciplinary media, and media that deal with issues of environmental catastrophe and capitalism. 

8:00pm

Festival Party

Virtual Gathering

Festival Party

Virtual Gathering

Head over to our digital festival courtyard designed by artist/game designer Tiz Creel and join the party!

How To Play: We’ll release the link to the space here when the festival starts.

Tiz Creel (1991) is an artist from Mexico City currently based in London. Her practice is influenced by play, spontaneity and games, as forms contingent on relations between people. For Tiz, play is the practice of becoming an ongoing exploration of the human experience. When we play, we engage fully with life and its contents to reach for the deepest truths of ordinary things and hopefully pursue greater respect and interest in the things around us. The more people open themselves, the more meaning they will find. Ultimately the meaning of the work comes prominence when the individual’s imagination transforms the objects. To play, the viewers must take the artwork on its own terms, treat it as if its existence were reasonable. The stimulation is what triggers cognitive synergy.

Play any time

Even in Arcadia

Phoebe Shalloway

Even in Arcadia

Phoebe Shalloway

You are an attendee at the launch party for a newly-developed planet in a hypercapitalist future where corporations develop and throw away entire planets like smartphone models. Explore the brand-new Arcadia Gardens and eavesdrop on a cast of characters whose dramatic evening plays out in a repeating cycle.

How To Play: You can download the game from the project’s itch.io page. Take your time exploring the game’s environment and follow the differrent characters to get a sense of the future being portrayed.

Phoebe Shalloway (any pronouns) is a game developer and writer from the United States. They are especially interested in experimental narrative forms, interdisciplinary media, and media that deal with issues of environmental catastrophe and capitalism. Even in Arcadia was originally created as their senior thesis project at Vassar College, Class of 2018. Phoebe has also created several other small and strange solo games, which can be played at https://girldebord.itch.io/.

The Last Survey

Essay Games

The Last Survey

Essay Games

The Last Survey is a narrative essay game about a geologist contracted by a Brazilian mining company to survey rare earth metal reserves. Their research has found that there is not enough metals on the planet to sustain growing industries of green energy and you must deliver these findings to the company’s CEO. Will your choices help steer the direction of your employer away from global mineral fatigue? Or will the urgency of your research fall on unsympathetic ears?

How to play:  You can can download the game from the project’s itch.io page. Headphones are recommended to experience the game’s haunting soundtrack.
We have a few community copies of The Last Survey to offer. If the cost of the game is prohibitive in any way please send an email to nick@nowplaythis.net to request a community copy.

Nicholas O’Brien is a net-based artist, curator, and writer researching Games, Digital Art, and Network Culture. He currently lives in Brooklyn and is Assistant Professor in 3D Design and Game Development at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Venice 2089

Safe Place Studio

Venice 2089

Safe Place Studio

The city of Venice, once a significant tourism destination but now almost uninhabited, is struggling with the unpredictable behaviour of tides. Some of the most important monuments are being taken away, among the complaints of the citizens, and the lower part of the city becomes inaccessible more often than not.

How to play: A windows-only demo of the game (which is currently in development) is available for download on steam.

Safe Place is a newly formed independent game studio based in Italy.

Villains and Heroes

Marloes de Valk

Villains and Heroes

Marloes de Valk

Villains and Heroes is an experimental publication in the form of an interactive fiction. The story is based on a real event: the costume party hosted by multi-billionaire Robert Mercer shortly after the election of Trump, December 2016. It all starts when you are accidentally invited to the party. As the story unfolds, you try to uncover the identity of the disguised guests – among who key players in climate change denial and disinformation campaigns, a network of opaquely funded libertarian think tanks and election manipulation – carefully maneuvering the rooms in the mansion without getting exposed as an uninvited guest. You hone your bluffing skills and gather poker chips in the hope of winning a luxury prize that might help pay your rent this month, in a secret, one-person mission to infiltrate the 1%.

How to play: You can play the game directly in your browser by going to https://villains-and-heroes.com/

Marloes de Valk (NL) is a software artist and writer in the post-despair stage of coping with the threat of global warming and being spied on by the devices surrounding her. Surprised by the obsessive dedication with which we, even post-Snowden, share intimate details about ourselves to an often not too clearly defined group of others, astounded by the deafening noise we generate while socializing with the technology around us, she is looking to better understand why.

Sunday: Ways of Relating

Many games have uncritically repeated the mechanisms of extraction and exploitation. On the last day of the festival we present works that give space for reflection and imagine other ways of relating to the natural world.

Live events on Sunday 28th March

2:00pm

JR Carpenter & Tomo Kihara: Weather Warnings

Conversation

JR Carpenter & Tomo Kihara: Weather Warnings

Conversation

Now Play This is proud to present this special commission that launches with the festival and will be developed over the course of 2021 in a series of conversations, research notes and public playtests.

Collaborating for the first time, web artist/poet JR Carpenter and game designer/technologist Tomo Kihara are creating Weather Warnings, an web-based AR experience that is freely playable anywhere in the world.

In this project we use augmented reality and live weather data to overlay the user’s surroundings with signage posing questions about past and present climatic conditions. Why is the sky so blue? Has it always rained? These signs call attention to the small changes in the climate already occurring all around us, inviting playful responses.

The conversation with the artists was streamed on our Twitch channel.

Have you encountered any mysterious, poetic, strange signs? Post them in this thread over on the Now Play This community forum.

J. R. Carpenter works across performance, print, and digital media. The Gathering Cloud won the New Media Writing Prize 2016. An Ocean of Static was highly commended by the Forward Prizes 2018. This is a Picture of Wind was one of The Guardian’s best poetry books of 2020.

http://www.luckysoap.com/

Tomo Kihara is a research driven designer making playful interventions that provide a new perspective to socio-technical problems.

http://www.tomokihara.com/

3:00pm

Free Ice Cream: Community Mapping & Playable Data

Workshop

Free Ice Cream: Community Mapping & Playable Data

Workshop

Now Play This is proud to present this special commission that launches with the festival and will be developed over the course of 2021.

Free Ice Cream will be exploring how their Playable Data methodology can help groups of people think and act collaboratively within the climate crisis.

The community of people around Now Play This are invited to join them in a workshop to collaboratively answer some questions about their creative work and lives as they relate to living sustainably, and explore how their energies and resources flow together as part of a collective system. As they do so, they will create a dynamic node map in real time.

Over the coming months and through a short series of workshops, Free Ice Cream will explore how this node map can be made playable by building worlds and mechanics into the system that can meaningfully convey how group dynamics interact with personal responsibility in a complex problem space, and how we as a game community can find connection and meaningful actions to take to combat the climate emergency.

Sign-up here to join them for their first workshop on Sunday, March 28, 15:00 GMT.

Free Ice Cream design playful interfaces that connect people and give them the agency to imagine and explore complex ideas and social change.  Their work spans online games, playful immersive spaces, and digital magic embedded in the real world.

4:00pm

Summit for Intergalactic Knowledge (SIK)

Digital LARP

Summit for Intergalactic Knowledge (SIK)

Digital LARP

Summit for Intergalactic Knowledge is a digital LARP (Live-Action Role Play), a non-competitive game and an experimental educational tool for co-creating and playing in a speculative fiction world. It allows us to embody different non-human agents, form interspecies relations, learn from each other and re-shape how we think of ourselves as beings.

The game seeks to problematise human exceptionalism and speculate about alternative positions from which we can question, destabilise, and decenter humans. Through the ability to inhabit and experience those other than ourselves, we can start addressing the challenges of the anthropocentric climate crisis, which privileges human and culture over non-humans and nature.

Through our characters engaging in different creative exercises, we will explore various forms of non-extractive relationships and ways of being and relating to each other otherwise.

How to play: The game session takes around 2-3 hours and includes an intro workshop where players get ready for the game, the actual gameplay, and a guided debrief. Participants will also receive a guide for the game and a character sheet. To book for this event please sign up here.
Sunday 28th March – 4pm GMT

Alen Ksoll (he/him) is an art educator and curator based in Stockholm, Sweden. He co-founded School in Common, a self-organised school for learning, studying and being in common.

Margherita Huntley (she/her) is a graphic designer, lecturer and publisher based in London. She is also a trade union representative and a participant of the Collective Practices Research Post-Master Course at the Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm.

Nat Skoczylas (them/they) is an artist, researcher and writer based in Berlin. They are interested in utopian thinking, anarchism, cooking as a practice of community building and exchange, and collective ways of learning and growing together.

 

5:00pm

Group Play and Discussion in The Garden of Earthly Delights

Play & Talk

Group Play and Discussion in The Garden of Earthly Delights

Play & Talk

Neilson and Milan Koerner-Safrata continue a conversation with Marie Foulston about their recent work and artistic practice that started last year in their work DUSTNET. Join the artists as they discuss their latest work. The Garden of Earthly Delights is an online chatroom for the animals of Age of Empires II — metamorphose between species of the animal kingdom in playful contempt of the human civilizations in Bosch’s biblical triptych.

How to play: The conversation was streamed on our Twitch channel on March 28, 5:00 pm GMT

Milan and Neilson Koerner-Safrata are Canadian new media artists working with video games to imagine new connections between the screen and the self. Their work has been presented at Now Play This, A MAZE., VIFF, IGF, IndieCade, and Ludicious.

Marie Foulston is a curator and creative producer of radical exhibitions, installations and experiences made in collaboration with videogame designers and artists. She was guest director of Now Play This in 2020.

6:00pm

Alternative Ecologies Jam Presentation

Presentation

Alternative Ecologies Jam Presentation

Presentation

Join this sharing session on the Now Play This discord to see what people have been making during the jam, or to present and discuss your own contribution.

Running throughout the festival, the Alternative Ecologies Jam brings together critical games writing and the themes of the festival. Participants will draw from examples and contribute their own writing, micro-games, or calls to action about gaming’s relation to economic and ecological issues.

More information on the themes of the jam, and how to join can be found here. Details on joining the presentation will be posted to the community section of the jam page.

Emilie Reed is a curator, writer and researcher based in Glasgow who is interested in alternative histories of gaming, DIY game-making communities online and game-making tools.

Banner image from British Library digital collection – public domain information

 

7:30pm

Festival Closing

Virtual Gathering

Festival Closing

Virtual Gathering

Head over to our digital festival courtyard designed by artist/game designer Tiz Creel to join the playful closing moment of the festival!

How To Play: The courtyard is over at https://topia.io/nowplaythis – You’ll need a chrome browser. You’ll also be able to watch it on our Twitch channel.

Tiz Creel (1991) is an artist from Mexico City currently based in London. Her practice is influenced by play, spontaneity and games, as forms contingent on relations between people. For Tiz, play is the practice of becoming an ongoing exploration of the human experience. When we play, we engage fully with life and its contents to reach for the deepest truths of ordinary things and hopefully pursue greater respect and interest in the things around us. The more people open themselves, the more meaning they will find. Ultimately the meaning of the work comes prominence when the individual’s imagination transforms the objects. To play, the viewers must take the artwork on its own terms, treat it as if its existence were reasonable. The stimulation is what triggers cognitive synergy.

Play any time

Floating Point Leviathan

Yan Knoop

Floating Point Leviathan

Yan Knoop

The player is dropped underwater with a single implied goal: Hunt the whale. As they hurt the creature, the world is damaged with it. With each hit, floating point errors are introduced: Starting as a small jitter, the precision of the virtual space itself degrades until a limit is reached.

How to play: You can play Floating Point Leviathan directly in your browser on the game’s itch.io page.

Yan Knoop is a developer from the Netherlands with a special interest in gameplay and AI.

Honour Water

Elizabeth LaPensée

Honour Water

Elizabeth LaPensée

Honour Water is a singing game for healing water available for free on iPads that passes on songs in Anishinaabemowin, the Anishinaabe language. Songs are gifted by Sharon Day, the Oshkii Giizhik Singers, and elders who collaborated at the Oshkii Giizhik Gathering. Water teachings are interwoven with singing challenges alongside art by Elizabeth LaPensée.

How to play: The game is designed for iPads. You can download it for free from the App store. Find a quiet place where you feel comfortable singing – or take the game on a walk to your nearest body of water!

 

Specially for Now Play This 2021, Elizabeth LaPensée presents an interview with Sharon Day.

 

Designer, Artist, Writer
Elizabeth LaPensée, Ph.D. expresses herself through writing, design, and art in games, comics, and animation. She is Anishinaabe, Métis, and Irish, living in Minnesota. She designed and programmed Invaders (2015), a remix of the arcade classic Space Invaders inspired by art from Steven Paul Judd. She also designed The Gift of Food (2014), a board game for the Northwest Indian College about Northwest Native traditional foods. As shown with the social impact game Survivance (2011) which she designed, she believes games can be pathways to healing and self-determination.

Singers and Song Writers
Oshkii Giizhik Singers is a group of Anishinaabe women who have been singing together for about 10 years. They have sung at St. Scholastica’s Native Music Festival, New Native Theater, and many Minnesota-area events. Their 2009 CD won a Nammy for “Best Traditional Recording” and they sung at the 2010 Nammy’s. They will make new hand drums and also learn how to teach the making of hand drums so that they can pass on these teachings at a public event for all Indigenous women.

Sharon M. Day, Ojibwe is enrolled in the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe. She is one of the founder’s of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force. Day has received numerous awards, including the Resourceful Woman Award, the Gisela Knopka Award, BIHA’s Women of Color Award, The National Native American AIDS Prevention Resource Center’s Red Ribbon Award, and most recently, the Alston Bannerman Sabbatical Award. She as been named as one of the 100 best loved women by Yes! Magazine. She is an editor of the anthology, Sing! Whisper! Shout! Pray! Feminist Visions for a Just World (2000). She is an artist, musician, and writer.

Developer
The game is developed by Pinnguaq, a Nunavut and British Columbia based corporation that makes apps and games while advocating for technology across the Indigenous world. Pinnguaq was created in 2012 with the goal of providing play experiences in Indigenous languages. Since then, the organization has begun to embrace ways of incorporating play and gaming into wide reaching applications that can benefit tourism, education and economic development. At the root of their mission statement is the embracing of technology as a means of unifying and enabling both Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures.

The Garden of Earthly Delights

SCRNPRNT

The Garden of Earthly Delights

SCRNPRNT

An online chatroom for the animals of Age of Empires II — metamorphose between species of the animal kingdom in playful contempt of the human civilizations in Bosch’s biblical triptych.

How to play: You can step into the Garden of Earthly Delights with your browser. Head over to http://scrnprnt.ca/TheGardenOfEarthlyDelights and be sure to visit the different sections of the painting. Try out different animals using the right/left arrow keys!

Milan and Neilson Koerner-Safrata are Canadian new media artists working with video games to imagine new connections between the screen and the self. Their work has been presented at Now Play This, A MAZE., VIFF, IGF, IndieCade, and Ludicious.