Live Events

On April 4th and 5th 2020 Now Play This hosted a weekend of live playful events from virtual field trips, massively multiplayer competitive twitch games of chess, and a festival keynote brought to you live from Animal Crossing. Whilst participation in our ticketed events sold out within 12 hours, our field trips and talks were streamed on Twitch, our website, and mirrored at Somersethouse.org.uk for all to spectate from their sofas.

Watch the Now Play This Opening Address

See the Now Play This at Home Official Selection

Videos for all livestreamed events can be watch as they occurred on Twitch with the audience chat alongside or on Youtube with closed captioning

Fri 3rd April - 2:00pm

Festival Launch!

by Now Play This

Welcome address and launch of the Play at Home official selection.

Watch the opening address

Sat 4th April - 11:00am

Live from Animal Crossing

by House House in conversation with The White Pube

The first live event of Now Play This at Home followed art critic baby gods The White Pube as they boarded a Dodo Airlines flight to Animal Crossing for a chat with the creators of Untitled Goose Game, House House.

Watch the full stream

Sat 4th April - 2:00pm

Make, Re-make, Exchange Workshop

by Leap Then Look

Artists Bill Leslie and Lucy Cran (Leap Then Look) led groups through creating sculpture, performance and film in an art-making game with other families in lockdown over the internet. Families worked together to make art in their homes, exploring objects and materials, exchanging ideas, re-making artworks, creating simple choreographies, playing together to create new experiences of art during isolation.

See highlights here

Sat 4th April - 5:00pm

Half Life Virtual Field Trip

by Robert Yang

Game designer and artist Robert Yang led a group on a live virtual field trip through the Black Mesa facility from Half Life 1 with the help of multiplayer mod ‘Sven Co-op’, and discussed the creation of the seminal first-person puzzler and its digital architecture.

Watch the full stream

Sun 5th April - 11:00am

Video Chat Games Adapted From Improv Comedy

by Melissa McGlensey and Doug Wilson

In this online workshop, comedian Melissa McGlensey and game maker Douglas Wilson taught a variety of simple social games for play on video chat. The games were specially adapted from commonly loved games and warmup exercises from improv comedy. Throughout the workshop, Melissa and Doug synthesised broader takeaways on playful performance, game design, and adapting games to new contexts.

See highlights here

Sun 5th April - 2:00pm

Twitch plays “Pawns”

by Alistair Aitcheson

A game of Chess played on a 44-by-44 grid, with 87 pawns and 1 king on each side. Beyond that the rules are the same as standard Chess. The audience typed their moves into Twitch chat and the chessmaster put them into action. From tradition movesets to world-building narrative construction, this was a game of chess not to be missed.

Watch the full stream

Sun 5th April - 6:00pm

Play DUSTNET with the Devs

by Neilson Koerner-Safrata

DUSTNET is a multiplayer video game installation that explores the death and afterlife of the virtual spaces we play in. The audience navigates a deconstructed version of the Counter-Strike (2000) map de_dust2 through computer, virtual reality, and augmented reality platforms. Guest director, Marie Foulston, discussed the creation of DUSTNET with Neilson and Milan Koerner-Safrata, and the significance of archiving digital spaces.

Watch the full stream

Sun 5th April - 8:00pm

Photography Tour of No Man’s Sky

by Gareth Damian Martin

A group of budding digital photographers joined game designer and artist Gareth Damian Martin in No Man’s Sky to capture this procedurally generated universe through a different lens in a live photography tour.
Watch the full stream here

Play at Home Official Selection

A curated pick of recommended games, films and works which were due to feature as part of our 2020 IRL (in real life) festival, but are now suggested here for you to enjoy in your own time. Each work reflects this year’s festival theme of ‘breaking point’ which celebrates playful creators who break, subvert or remix the rules of the games they make and play.

AI Dungeon 2 – Nick Walton, Alan Walton, Zach Walton, Ben Murdoch, Cayla Murdoch

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AI Dungeon is a first of its kind AI Generated text adventure powered by OpenAI's GPT2. Unlike every other game in existence you can type any action and the AI will generate the result of your action and continue the story.  

Nick has been working on deep learning technology for the last several years, working at autonomous vehicle companies and in a deep learning research lab at Brigham Young University. At the beginning of December he released AI Dungeon, a first-of-its-kind, AI-generated text adventure where you can input any action you can imagine and the result is generated by feeding the response to a fine tuned GPT-2 model. AI Dungeon is available on iOS, Android, Web, and Alexa and had 250,000 users sign up within the first two weeks.

Electronic Sweet-N-Fun Fortune Teller – Rachel Simone Weil

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Electronic Sweet-N-Fun Fortune Teller is an original love compatibility and horoscope game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The game, written in 6502 assembly language, is situated in an alternate video game history in which 8-bit console games were marketed to girls.

Rachel Simone Weil is an experimental designer and 8-bit game developer whose work offers alternate visions of computer and video game history. Weil blends fact with fiction to create exhibitions and electronic artifacts that center the history of forgotten and imagined games, especially those that draw from girly cultures and subcultures.

Lichenia – Molleindustria

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Reclaim the ruins of a fallen city and create a sustainable human habitat. There are no goals and no endings in Lichenia. Learn about its cryptic ecology. Grow a city like a garden.

Molleindustria [soft industry/soft factory] is a project of reappropriation of video games, a call for the radicalization of popular culture, an independent game developer. Since 2003 it produced artisanal remedies to the idiocy of mainstream entertainment in the form of free, short-form, online games.

Nova Alea – Molleindustria

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For its dwellers, Nova Alea was a mixture of shelters, connections, memories, longings. For its masters, the city was a matrix of financial abstractions.

Molleindustria [soft industry/soft factory] is a project of reappropriation of video games, a call for the radicalization of popular culture, an independent game developer. Since 2003 it produced artisanal remedies to the idiocy of mainstream entertainment in the form of free, short-form, online games.

Oolith – Briony O Clarke

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A permutation of the board game Oooble, Oolith is an alchemical bot which combines things, feelings, actions and ideas to generate new conceptual objects. Oolith is a mediumistic vehicle for summoning endless play things from the beating heart of the imaginal world.

Briony O Clarke is an interdisciplinary artist, researcher and designer weaving a sculptural practice through speculative design, analytical psychology and social fiction. She approaches design as an exploratory strategy of subversion, a way of summoning, re-imagining, experimenting with and being critical about possible futures by making conceptual design objects and scenarios that pull experientially into it. She is currently working on her practice as research PhD at the University of Essex where she is extending Carl Jung’s therapeutic technique of active imagination to new media technologies via speculative game design.

Red Desert Render – Ian MacLarty

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This two-player cooperative videogame was inspired by the creator's out-of-bounds adventures in Red Dead Dedemption 2 and seeks to evoke similar feelings of discovery and transgression. Let your curiosity guide you through a vast and varied landscape filled with unexpected interactions that expose new ways of seeing this virtual world.

Ian MacLarty is an award-winning game developer living in Melbourne, Australia, with an interest in small-scope, experimental designs. He has a background in computer science and his work often explores the materiality of videogames through the use of self-made tools and generative techniques.

Sigil – Kirsty Keatch & Joel Beardshaw

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Sigil is a brand new commission for Now Play This 2020. The work explores the potential of Instagram and face filters as platforms for games and new approachable augmented reality playful experiences. Players catch floating Now Play This sigils with their heads to decorate different facial features. Each sigil has its own unique behaviour which responds to the player's expressions and head movements. Sigil can be played on your mobile phone by downloading Instagram and following the link above to access the filter.

Joel and Kirsty work at ustwo games. Recently Joel worked on Assemble with Care and Monument Valley 2, his personal projects include walking simulators and Instagram filter games. Kirsty's creative practice brings interactive works to museums and galleries including smartphone mediated kinetic sound sculptures and short form XR experiences. Sigil design by Richard Hogg. Richard is an artist and designer whose games include Hohokum and Wilmot's Warehouse.

Squaretown – Viviane Schwarz and Kevan Davis

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Squaretown is a roll-and-move game played across a patchwork of boards designed by virtual Now Play This visitors. Download a collection of buildings and spaces you like the look of, and connect them together to form a playable town, with players dashing from square to square collecting tokens and completing tasks. If you want to add your own plot to the Squaretown archive, download one of the blank boards, doodle whatever infrastructure you think the town needs, and submit it to our gallery. Play and make your own game here

Viviane Schwarz is an award-winning author and illustrator of interactive books, picture books, graphic novels and craft books. Kevan Davis is a designer of board, street, web and escape room games. Squaretown is an adaptation of the game design system from their 2019 book Board Games To Create and Play.

The Call Trilogy – Ip Yuk-Yiu

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Ip Yuk-Yiu's CALL Trilogy is an experimental machinima series that hacks and reworks materials from the video game franchise Call of Duty, unearthing hidden ghosts and poetics while creating evocative parallels through a kind of uncanny observation and navigation in the found virtual landscapes. For the festival weekend Yuk has made all three of these films available to view online for free.

IP Yuk-Yiu is a media artist, art educator and independent curator. His works have been showcased extensively at international venues, including European Media Art Festival, New York Film Festival, the Image Festival, FILE Festival, Transmediale and NTT ICC. His recent works explore hybrid creative forms that are informed by cinema, video games and contemporary media art practices.

The Indifferent Wonder of an Edible Place – Studio Oleomingus

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The indifferent wonder of an edible place is an examination of the violence of erasure. Created in response to the demolition of the Babri Masjid, it attempts to ponder the violent cost and the profound grief of having to survive at the edge of despotism, when places of entangled heritage are being willfully effaced.

Studio Oleomingus is a two person game studio, based in India. They work at the intersection of post colonial writing, interactive fiction, and speculative architecture. With their games they attempt to study colonialism, the history that it occludes and how interactive fiction might be used as a form of discourse, record and resistance against such authority.

Triforce: The Topologies of Zelda – Patrick LeMieux and Stephanie Boluk

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In The Legend of Zelda, there are several strange spaces hidden within Hyrule that defy the logic of the Cartesian grid: the Lost Woods, the Lost Hills, and the Lost Roads. When navigating these 2D mazes, Link finds himself endlessly looping, temporarily suspended by a classic game mechanic. But when visualized in 3D, these labyrinths look different. Triforce is a short puzzle game featuring a non-Euclidean Hyrule full of donuts, Möbius strips, and Klein bottles alongside a text-based adventure exploring personal histories of playing the original game.

Patrick LeMieux and Stephanie Boluk play, make, and write about games at the University of California, Davis. They are co-authors of Metagaming, co-creators of Triforce: The Topologies of Zelda and 99 Exercises in Play, and cast members on Every Game in This City.