holly gramazio

holly gramazio

I'm Holly Gramazio. I'm 34. I'm based in London. I moved to London about nine years ago from South Australia, where I grew up.

I'm a game designer and also a curator of game events. The stuff I design usually has some sort of physical or site-specific element to it. So, sometimes it's completely low-tech games with a lot of running around, sometimes there's a digital element. I guess it's about applying game design to particular locations, quite often.

If I'm remembering correctly, you had a computer game at a hotel? It had a built-in expiration date?

Yeah. [Laughs.] This happened at a festival called Playpublik last year. So it ran for three days, maybe? The way it worked is one or two people would go into a hotel room in a hotel near the festival venue, and it'd be an immaculate hotel room. You know what hotel rooms are like when you go in, right? Very, very clean and very, very impersonal. Like it's been assembled just for you to be in there, this sort of temporary space.

And in this hotel room, there'd be a computer on the desk. It'd be the only thing that's out of the ordinary. And on the computer, there's a little interactive story about the room. A little thing in Twine and you'd explore that and it'd tell you about the hotel room and things you could do in hotel rooms and different ways that people behave in hotel rooms.

So, like, there are people who go to a hotel room and will immediately check that there's no one in any of the cupboards or under the bed, and there are people who will go to a hotel room and instantly take off as many clothes as they can and plop down on the bed and put their feet on the wall, right? These are the two extremes. [Laughs.]

And so, it asks you to pick which one of these you were most likely to go for, and it gives you games to play -- physical games to play in the hotel room either with yourself or with the other person who’s there and gradually it builds up stories about other people who've been in the hotel room and sort of a soundscape that gets denser, the sounds of these fictional people who'd been in the hotel room before you. Then, at the end, give you a few minutes to do what you'd like in the room. Make your mark on it.

Hearing you talk about it and thinking about the connection with games, there's always been this thing with videogames where people want to leave their mark. I'm thinking of high scores, arcades, where the only mark would be three characters.
This sort of ties in, because you said you wanted to talk about awareness of history in videogames is important.

That sounds like the sort of thing I might have said. [Laughs.]

Well, you had said that the notion that the history of videogames starts in the '70s is "kind of ridiculous."

Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's clearly nonsense and it seems like a shame not to think a bit about the stuff that's further back. Quite frankly, just because some of it is really, really neat. Like, the first light-gun game comes from the 1930's, which is kind of ridiculous and interesting, right? That you get these people in their 1930's living rooms with this purpose-built duck-shooting game using a light gun. [Laughs.]

But also just because awareness of games going further back can help contextualize gameplay as a normal, social thing. A thing that people have always done and a thing that people often like to do together.

Do you think there's a part of the mindset around videogames that wants to keep it an underdog of sorts and not necessarily as having that longer lineage or foothold you're talking about?

That's not really a feeling I get. I think as much as anything, it's that finding out about historical stuff in a way that doesn't involve being really bored a lot is quite difficult. Playing games that are now basically defunct is really awkward. You've got to figure out the rules and all the equipment you need and get a place to do it and get the people to do it and it's just a bit of a faff. It's fair enough to not want to to bother.

I do talk a lot about the history of games and how I think those are interesting and how I think it's a shame people aren't more aware of them and that is broadly true, but at the same time, like, I don't think everyone should necessarily care. I like digging into it and finding strange things that I think other people will like instead of bringing it out like, "Oh! I found this weird rule set from 1880. I found this thing people used to do. Oh, I found this novel where people are playing a parlor game!" Things like that.

But I don't think all game designers should be sitting around looking through public domain books of parlor games and going, "Hmm! I can see how this can inform my design process."

[Laughs.] And then you push your glasses further up.

Yeah. It's like -- I really like baking biscuits. There's things you can do, biscuit recipes where you just make a roll of biscuit dough and keep it in the freezer and then you can have fresh baked biscuits in 10 minutes whenever you want them. And isn't that neat? Isn't that a lovely thing?

I tell people about biscuit recipes a lot -- I guess cookies, you would say.

No, I knew what you meant.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Thank you, though.

[Laughs.] It doesn't necessarily mean that I think everyone should be baking all the time, it's just that it's a thing that excites me and sometimes people seem to find interesting.

I think I see the connection, but what are the dots you're drawing between cookies and videogames?

[Laughs.] You're trying to make it sound like I'm saying something vast and meaningful where really I'm saying, "You know, I like cookies, I like weird game history facts. I like when other people eat the cookies and enjoy them or are interested in the facts."

It's definitely, like, this is a personal interest of mine rather than something I genuinely believe would be beneficial for games as a whole if people were that much more interested in it.

You mentioned the public domain. What do you use to research, and are these things you seek out randomly and explore, or is it more purpose-driven?

Often when I'm doing a talk somewhere I use it as an excuse to find something I'm interested in and dig up more information about it and find strange stories or forgotten games. It's not really something that's directly relevant to my work very often, thinking about it. I do do quite a lot of work that involves some historical research, games based on local history and things like that. But it's very rarely historical games. Yeah, the more I think about it, the more it is just something I enjoy finding out about and talking about, so I use presentations as an excuse.

It's funny because I literally got an email this morning from another -- younger -- developer saying that "older games deserve to be forgotten." Where does that apathy for history come from?

Hmm. Where doesn't it come from? Name me an area where it is the norm to care desperately about the past. Look at, like, bestseller lists of fiction and it’s new books or a book there's a movie of or something where there's a relevant thing unexpectedly in the news. I don't think it’s games-specific, I think people like new stuff and things that the world goes to an effort to make them aware of, which tends to be newer.

If you're making a work of art or craft or whatever, then, not knowing about the history of that particular form can be a problem just because you end up recreating problems that people have come up with solutions to or spending a lot of time on something that you think is an amazing and novel idea that it turns out people did five years ago and 10 years ago and 20 years ago. So it doesn’t hurt. But it’s not unusual to be more interested in novelty.

On the other hand, how much do you really need to know to start making games? You don't need to know chords to write songs. I'm just riffing, not saying that making games is easy by any stretch.

Yeah, yeah, it's an interesting position for your young developer friend to hold, right? I wonder if they’re happy with the idea that people in 20 years will disregard their own games with the same sort of cheerful dismissiveness.

Hooray!

[Laughs.] Maybe they are, right? Maybe they think of the games they make as something that will be interesting for a few years and then stop being interesting. It's like, you know, there's pop music -- you can have pop song "A" that's precisely as good as pop song "B" at being a pop song in 2011 or whatever. They capture the spirit of that particular summer in the same way, they get people to respond with equivalent levels of cheer and immediacy, and then five years you can listen back on it and go, "Oh, one of these is still great."

And one of them is now terrible, even though at the time, they were both equivalently good -- it doesn’t devalue the enjoyment you had back in 2011. Maybe your correspondent is someone who's happy with the idea that aiming to make something that's something that is good at the time and won't be good in the future.

Well, also, there's just not enough room for everything.

Yeah. So, most of the stuff I make is not just site-specific but time-specific. So, if you want to play Hotel Room, you have to be in a particular hotel room in Poland a year ago. Right? There is no way to do that now. A lot of the stuff I do is events or it's installations that are there for three weeks.

I did a thing last year, in autumn, which was site-specific low-tech game designs that we painted on footpaths and walls around some villages in East Durham and we painted some other elements that made the games playable. So, in the parks, because it was autumn, we stenciled 50 painted autumn leaves on the ground, and those are part of the landscape you use to play the games and that was there for three weeks, which is a comparatively long time compared to some of my other games.

So to me the idea that you can make a thing and people can still play it in five years seems luxurious and exciting and fundamentally peculiar. I made a little digital game about blackbirds last year, and a couple of weeks back a few people stumbled across it and played it and tweeted about it and that was miraculous to me, like: That was last year! And someone played it now! Impossible.

You had mentioned some of the physical games, that there tends to be a lot of repetition, or "unnecessarily recreating."

Oh my God. Yeah. Just, please, everyone stop designing the game where you and your friends all have your phones and you're trying to take photos of each other without being spotted and having your photo taken. Or, you know, design it and play it with your friends. Don't write it up, don't send it to me. Literally everyone who has ever been in a densely packed area with two friends and a phone has designed this game and that’s fine, it’s fun, but it’s not a thing you need to run as an event.

It's almost like if there was a sense of history -- but you were saying a lot of these types of games are not necessarily preserved because it is so ephemeral.

Yeah. And so, we document it, right? We take photographs and we write it up. But gameplay actually photographs really badly. So really what you often actually do is you get a few photogenic friends before or after the event and you photograph them pretending to play because that gives a better sense of what the work actually was than photographing people who are genuinely playing -- who aren't doing that in a way that makes sure that one of them at least is facing the camera, right? [Laughs.]

You wanted to talk about physical games, and at least from my perspective, there seems to be some sort of barrier that they are from a totally different world from videogames. Does that feel that way for you as well?

I mean, there aren't many conferences for the sort of game I tend to make, so I end up hanging around at a lot of videogame conferences and having a lot of friends who are at least in part videogames people. So I see a lot of stuff at the borders of the two. I'm really interested in things like digitally enabled physical play, and there's plenty of stuff in the crossover. More now than there was five years ago.

I still do get lots of people, including videogames people, being kind of confused by my job or think it couldn't be a job or who struggle to believe that there are people systematically making these kinds of games with the same sorts of thought and effort and playtesting and iteration into them as people put into videogames.

No one ever seems to mind, though. The worst that happens is they just sort of go, "Huh," and they're slightly confused. No one ever minds me turning up at their conferences talking about the history of football or whatever.

[Laughs.] Which is a specific example, for people reading this who did not know.

Yeah.

Are there sites that cover your types of games?

Not really. No. So, there's very occasional articles that address them but it's very very difficult because obviously you've got to see the game to write about. You've got to physically be there, so it -- that's a difficult thing. Sometimes you get reports on particular high-profile games, or someone goes to a particular festival and writes it up, and that’s great, but it’s not worth anyone’s time to travel all around to a load of different places and develop an expertise in physical games and then write them all up. And it’s not a dense enough field to support a dedicated critic in a single city, like theatre, say, which also has the "you need to be there to write about it" problem.

There aren't really any sites that specifically investigate pervasive (or whatever) games in a critical or a news space capacity. There are a few that have rule sets.

So, for example, there's Ludocity.org, which has a repository of rulesets for these kinds of games that are available under Creative Commons licenses, and there's a few other places that collect advice for running things or rules for different games. And things like Shake That Button which is a repository of links to -- digitally enabled physical play, I guess. So, there's that.

Mostly, you see other people who are interested in this stuff at festivals relating to them.

There's no way that this is a burgeoning field, though. I have to imagine people have been doing things like this for quite a while --

Define "quite a while."

Well, you had said it's been decades and decades, so at least a century if I'm remembering what you said correct.

Yeah, so, Come Out & Play in New York is having its tenth festival this year and that's directly or indirectly the inspiration behind a lot of a lot of other festivals dealing with this sort of game. It is the oldest of them and a lot of the people who have started their own events have been inspired to do that either by going to Come Out & Play or going to one of the other things inspired by it. Previous to that you mostly get people running these games as one-offs. There's really weird histories where, like, you can trace games through treasure hunts that Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim ran in San Francisco, I think, in the '70s through to other people hearing about that through to movies made.

Like, there's a 1980's Disney movie called Goodnight Madness, which is not very good but is sort of the source of lots of people doing things like puzzle hunts. I guess I'm not personally very interested in puzzle hunts but it is a widespread form of play in specifics physical sites, right, so you get that sort of peculiar history.

There's been related stuff for a long time, sure.

Well, I think it's encouraging that you're trying to nurture serendipity, which is counter to the overly digital world we live --

Is the age we live in overly digital?

Maybe it's sufficiently digital, and that's just my circle and the way I see it. But I'm talking about a lot of the services to us, like, even Google with things like predictive search -- a computer is trying to figure out what you want before even letting you look for it yourself. Or Netflix: You like this, so you might like that. It's trying to be helpful.

Oh, I mean I’m pretty much okay with that.

Well, but that's subjective.

[Laughs.] Sure.

Obviously I care about physicality, right? I don't consider it -- like, I can't conceive of myself as a person separate from my physical existence, what that would even mean. Even when I'm playing digital games, there's a physical element to that. Playing a game on a train is just a different experience from playing it on a sofa or playing it sat under a tree where sometimes there's some light coming through and glaring on the screen and you can't quite see it.

And being aware of the physicality of the person playing a game, that seems sensible even when the games are entirely digital.

Serendipity can happen either way. And I think you can plan to make it more likely either way.

What are some of the weird logistics you have to tangle and navigate with the games you make?

Oh, gosh. I mean -- oof.

It varies a lot based on the scale of the game, right? One the very first games I was involved with designing was a game called the Soho Stag Hunt, where a man in a beautiful suit and a vast papier-mâché stag's head wanders the streets and competing teams try to find him and tie balloons in their teams' colors to his antlers. So, over the course of the 45 minutes or so, he gathers more and more balloons and he becomes easier and easier to find -- but you can only carry one balloon at a time, so after you've found him, you have to run back, get another balloon, and you might have lost track of where he is. Teams develop their own strategies about how to deal with this.

And in some versions of this game, there's also an evil stag who will take your balloon if he catches you and burst it or let it fly away.

So, yeah, I was running a version of this in Berlin a few years back and about five minutes before it was due to start, someone let go of a bunch of balloons and about 100 of the 400 balloons flew into the air. [Laughs.]

Oh no. [Laughs.]

And so we just had to slightly rejig the rules in order to accommodate the scarcity of balloons. The fact that we didn't have as many balloons -- had to make it slightly harder to find the stag and attach the balloons to him and make the enemy stag slightly more vicious and alarming so that people would be more careful about approaching, which is one of the good things about running games with people, right? You can get them to change the difficulty very, very organically and make things a little bit harder if people are doing too well. Like, dynamic difficulty adjustment just through saying: "Hey, ease off a bit!" to someone who can then use their own brain, which they use to figure out how to do that.

So, yeah, sometimes it's just very silly things like 100 balloons going off, and sometimes it's weird, elaborate stuff. Like, the biggest game I've been involved in since I was a game designer was when I was working at Hide&Seek and we designed a game called The New Year Games, which ran in Edinburgh on the first of January, 2012, a few years back now.

It happened over the course of an afternoon, and the idea was that people go to Edinburgh on New Year's Eve to look at the fireworks and have a nice time, and then on New Year's Day they can't leave because the trains don't run on the 1st of January. And they don't really know what to do and a lot of stuff is closed and a lot of them are a little bit hungover, so every year the Council puts on something different in or around the City Center to give the day a bit of a distinctive feeling and give people something to do there. And, yeah, 2012 it was us. It was this game where we were asked to design experiences in a lot of different buildings and in one of the big public squares we had things like -- a sort of fairground of games and whenever people played any of these games, they won tokens and chose one of two teams, Uppies and Doonies, which both had big wicker statues in the square. They put the token on the wicker statue of their choice.

We had the Lord Provost of Edinburgh announce the winner and we had an actual bagpiper and dramatic music and a stage and a massive screen above us with games for the crowd. And we had a helter skelter up -- do you know what a helter skelter is? It's like one of those big curly slides that you get at a fairground -- for a game of helter skelter bingo.

That was just full of logistics. We were mostly involved creatively rather than in terms of production. The producers were a company -- a mix of people who run Edinburgh's parade and things -- a company called Unique Events. But the two sets of responsibilities bleed into each other constantly, right?

So, at the end we were going to have the winning team declared partly through safety flares in the color of the winning team along with confetti cannons and some other stuff. The best colors you can get safety flares in are red and sort of white, which meant we had red and silver for the two teams. This thing that came purely out of a production necessity then kicked back into the whole look and feel of the game and the character of the different teams.

So, we met at the Game Developer's Conference earlier this year and I'm curious what sort of takeaways you get from that and other videogame people that you might bring into your own work?

Huh.

I think things about the processes of designing games and different ways of approaching game design and thinking about how games work and so on can be really useful regardless of the medium that you're working in. So, occasionally I do purely digital stuff as well and it doesn't feel like it's a completely different field. It doesn't feel like I'm looking up going, "What's going on in this peculiar distant area? Ooh!" [Laughs.]

Game design is a relatively transferable skill set between different forms of games, whether that's parlor games for five people or board games or games where people run around in a playground or games where people are sitting at a computer, right? So, it's always interesting to hear about what people are excited by and different ideas that they're exploring.

Do you have a specific example of how something from videogames has inspired you with your work?

Sure. Hmm.

For me I don’t think it’s about inspiration so much as adding to the toolkit I have to deal with problems or construct games. Mostly when something very specific inspires a game, for me, it’s just a moment or a mood or a visual image or a joke from a different context entirely - so the blackbird game I mentioned, that was inspired by a particular moment in a music video. But mechanically?

Okay, there’s a game called Action Painting Pro by Ian McLarty that I was obsessed with for a while. It’s very good. Very quick. I must have played it hundreds of times. You’re a little artist jumping around on platforms and leaving a big trail behind you based on the different tools you pick up. And at the end, when you finally die, it’s only then that you really look at the work of art you’ve created while running around.

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And there’s a very simple game I’ve been thinking about making for a while, a card-based art game. And I’m interested in that experience -- of making decisions for gameplay reasons and then thinking, "Huh!" about how it’s affected the artwork you made, or feeling the tension between the thing that’s best to do for your chances of success and the thing that’s best for the artwork you’re making in-game but not getting scored for.

What are you working on at the moment or working on figuring out?

I'm feeling quite impatient about making things at the moment. I want to make more little things and find more contexts for doing that in. Partly because I make physical games, that means I need to have other people onboard. I can't just go and sit and do that by myself. I have to convince venues that it's a good idea, for example, and that can be quite a prolonged process.

So at the moment I’m learning a tiny bit more about how to make digital stuff, partly for its own sake and partly because it’s a thing I can do on my own in a room and then there it is - I don’t need to book a space or keep my fingers crossed about the weather or sell tickets or fill out risk assessments.

Plus my friend Sophie Sampson and I -- she’s a game designer and writer and producer and researcher -- we’ve just set up as a tiny two-person company to do more work together. It lets us do larger-scale work than we practically can on our own, and we’ve got pretty complementary skills, and it’s just nice to not always be working on your own. So we’re also figuring out what sort of work we want to do as a company.

What’s a recent insight you were impressed by from a videogame designer?

Ha, well, as I said a lot of my friends are videogame designers, so -- like, half an hour ago a videogame designer told me to put the cream in a sauce in at the end of the cooking process, you know? Sorry, I know that’s not what you mean. But it happens so often that it’s hard to answer.

I like Emily Short’s essays on interactive fiction a lot, and a few days ago I read her using the phrase "magician’s choice" to refer to a branch in a game that isn’t really a branch, it always leads you to the same place, and I thought that was such a great way of phrasing it -- it made me think about that sort of trick in a different way.

Or -- okay, my boyfriend makes video games and they’re really hard, a lot of the time. Early on in the relationship I got stuck somewhere and texted him saying, "Hey how do I do this?" He texted back saying. “Be better at the game.”

And normally I’d have stopped after, I dunno, 10 or 20 failures and done something else instead. But you know, relationships have their obligations, right? So I stuck with it and got through to that experience of a thing that seemed literally impossible becoming kind-of easy. Which is really interesting! And weird to think about in the context of live games that people will mostly only ever play once. How do you give people the chance to feel good at a thing if they don’t have time to master it? I’d thought about that before but not in relation to that sense of increasing competence.

Or, I was at AMAZE a couple months back and there were a load of great talks, stuff like the role of typography in games and parallels to concrete poetry, and Nina Freeman talking about games as a way of exploring things from your own life.

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Even videogame designers who I’ve spoken to about showing their game at events -- so at Wellcome one of the games I showed was Robert Yang’s Stick Shift, and it’s in some ways a difficult game to show at an event because it’s very easy for one player to mess it up for future players. During play you can do things which effectively lock you out of the game for a long time, even if you restart it. So talking to him about that, and its importance to the game, and how to deal with it when showing the game at the event, made me think a lot about our assumptions on approaching games, and about the way that my strong inclination is to try to make sure people at events aren’t ever confused or frustrated but that actually confusion and frustration can be powerful things sometimes.

I don’t mean to be obstructive, it’s just this happens so often and in so many different ways that it’s difficult to pick things out! This isn’t a representative sample or anything, it’s just some stuff that sprang to mind.

What do you notice about the sorts of talks offered at things like GDC?

Well, like a lot of people at GDC I have great ambitions about how many talks I’ll go to and then I just end up seeing a few that I’m really keen on, and spending the rest of the time talking to people or sitting on the grass or hanging around or playing things.

So given that you said there aren't really a lot of sites that cover your sorts of games, I'm curious: What happens when you are covered?

Usually what happens is the article goes: "Remember when we used to all run around in a playground? Well, it turns out some people never stopped. Here I am, standing behind a pillar in an arts venue with a ribbon around my arm talking into a Walkie-Talkie and sneaking. I feel very tense and my heart is beating. Oh no! Someone's going to get me. I run. What I'm doing is actually taking part in this newfangled type of game called a Big Game." Or Pervasive Game or City Game or whatever the hell terminology the person writing about uses.

It's literally that thing, this article, which is "journalist stands somewhere, feels tense, turns out this is about the game they're playing -- journalist pulls back and writes about this thing."

[Laughs.]

You know, it's a way that makes -- yeah.

It would be nice if there were more critical writing. If there was more analysis. But it's a small field, right? It's hard to do. I try to write about things I've played that I think are important, but it takes time and it's not criticism. It's commentary from another practitioner on what she found most interesting about a thing.

Which was something else I was wondering about, because, then, it sounds like most of the feedback you get is from places you pitch these games to, where you want to hold them. What sort of feedback do you get? Do they ever tweak things or suggest you do totally different things instead?

Oh, yeah, for sure. The things I do often have a home within a curated festival or event and sometimes -- and yeah, I think good curators of new work want to know what you're doing and sometimes have questions or suggestions for sure.

Suggestion-wise, woah. Let me think. I curated an event at Wellcome Collection in London a few weeks back and they had a lot of feedback about what their audience tends to respond well to -- for example their audiences tend to like quite a lot of context, so we made placards for each game describing why we’d chosen it and some of its connections to the themes of the night and the other games, so that people who weren’t necessarily comfortable jumping in and playing could still read that and have some help in understanding what we thought was interesting about each game. That wasn’t something I’d done before but it was great advice, and I’m going to do that again with an event we’re running in a month or so at Somerset House.

Or, we made a game called 54 Cities for a festival named InTRANSIT, which is a walking puzzle -- a deck of cards with stories from local history, and you have to figure out where each card fits. And the curators of that festival were really interested in the idea that it should be a functional deck of cards, you know, four suits and all. Which we might not have ended up doing without their input - but it makes a difference, it means people approach the deck of cards as an object they’re kinda familiar with, and it also means we themed the stories to match the different suits (like, the stories for Spades all happened underground) which became a really key element of the game in the end.

What do you notice about the pairings of videogames with physical games like these at events? How do they end up complementing each other, or how do they end up clashing?

I know that when I first had events with both, I didn’t necessarily know how to integrate them well. I remember an event that was mostly pervasive games, and then a 40-player big-screen video game in the middle of the day, and what happened was that ten minutes before that game was scheduled to start, the players who were already there left for lunch, and a load of new people walked in with, you know, a much higher density of T-shirts with programming jokes on them than my events usually get -- then the new people played that game, and then after an hour when it was time for something else they left. I’ve had a lot more practice now at making sure there’s not that sort of sharp divide!

It can be interesting to have games that are in different media but complement each other thematically or aesthetically happening near each other, for example. And making sure there’s not a "digital games" and “physical games” divide, but a continuum. And that people who are mostly interested in one end of the continuum can’t just play those without also at least seeing some things at the other end of the continuum, and get an idea of how they work just from being near them, and perhaps think about giving them a go after all.

What else do you notice about that whole continuum?

The thing that I envy videogames for is the -- and board games, too, although to a lesser extent -- amount of concrete writing and thinking and analysis there is about how the games work and how they fail and what that means. I feel like being a smaller field, we don't have the breadth of practitioners and critics to allow for that, and so we have to read stuff about videogames and think, "Hmm, how would this be different if the trees were real?"

But I don't think there's really anything to be done about that, and it's not something I'm angry about or anything. I occasionally just go, "Ah, it'd be nice if..."

I'd just be curious to see what the reaction would be like from a broader audience. I feel like some people would want to compare it to LARPing, and while there's some overlap, there's also more that doesn't.

There's obviously some overlap, especially with Nordic LARP with its breadth of setting and time scales for games and things like that. But, quite apart from everything else, the games I make don’t tend to be about roleplay. You're not someone else. You're a version of you constrained by rules and maybe you're a braver version of yourself or a more cunning version of yourself or a more treacherous version of yourself, but you're still you. It's just literally not roleplaying, right?

Which is funny because in videogames, who you are never? You're rarely you.

Yeah.

Yeah, but sports, you're always you, right?

[Laughs.]

You don't put on a tabard and then for the next 45 minutes you are Chad MacGubbins.

One of the other overlaps with this sort of work is, I guess, stuff from more of an arts background, so you get lots of interesting Fluxus stuff in the '60s, which informs the work of some people in this area now, and you get people like Blast Theory, who're a British company who's been making stuff since the ‘90s I guess, working partly with sometimes digital games, sometimes kind of a mix of live and digital games, but often within a gallery context. Or you get people from a theatre background -- a lot of those actually, who use games and gameplay as a way to pilot their audience through their experiences.

Do you think there's potential for videogames to learn from this form, or do you already see evidence of that? We've talked about the inverse.

I think there's more and more work that's at the conjunction of the two. So, if you look at -- like, I'm kind of reluctant to use this example because everyone talks about it whenever you talk about physical/digital games. But if you look at something like Die Gute Fabrik’s JS Joust, then that is a game that runs at pure videogame events and it's a game that runs at pervasive games events and works really really well at both of them. I think over the last few years there’s been more and more stuff that is informed by both areas.

I think if videogames are going to learn stuff about physicality and play within the world and all of that, then, sure, it can learn from existing physical games.

But also, why not also learn from architecture? Why not also learn from installation art? Why not learn from everything? Games can learn from stuff that's not just a different form of games. [Laughs.]

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