History

Now Play This began in September 2015, with a three-day prototype festival running 4-6 September (see pictures of the event, the exhibition line-up, talks, and special events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

In 2016 we ran from 1-3 April, looking particularly at games that addressed embodiment and player creativity, with a core exhibition running throughout and special events on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. See pictures from the event below, or take a look at the exhibition line-up.

In 2017 Now Play This moved to 7-9th April, with a core exhibition, special events and a sister exhibition Game Changers running for a month in the Terrace Rooms at Somerset House. See the exhibition lineup here and the events here.

In 2018, we accompanied the exhibition running throughout with a lineup of special events for artists and game makers.

In 2019, Now Play This focused on the theme of community. Looking at games that create a community around them; at games made for a small group or even just one person; at games about the experiences of a particular community; and at different game-making communities and the work that comes out of them.

The 2020 programme was led by our Guest Director, Marie Foulston, and looked at games that relate to a theme of ‘Breaking Point’. Games are the aesthetic forms of systems, and this edition was featured works that break or subvert them in interesting and creative ways. The IRL festival could not go ahead because of the pandemic, so we ran a special Now Play This at Home edition that you could join from your sofa.

We were supported in all six years by Games London, Arts Council England, and Somerset House, and in 2017, 2018 and 2019 artists’ travel was sponsored by the British Council.