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Stories from the world of Urban Play


So good, I am so often at MAO these days (whenever I am in Slo). I will have maybe some free moments from 6th to 8th, will contact you in case I can jump out :slight_smile: before that I work in Werfpuhl which is about an hour or so away. my email teja.rot(AT)


Great! looking forward, we will be with @Noemi hosting a meetup at Re:Publica on the 6th, and then available in the evenings or inside the festival (and on the 8th Cory Doctorow gives a talk in Berlin, for free, so I will be there for sure :)) will drop an email in a moment :slight_smile:


Dear Natalia,

thanks for your reply!

In short, I see the interface as a tool to render human interaction into an exchange of (predefined and, therefore, exploitable as well as in multiple ways discriminatory) profiles. That’s our status quo and it’s difficult to imagine society beyond that. The key is indifference (as described by Agamben, Laruelle, etc.) How can we have interactions beyond capitalistic aims!? How can we be individuals not built out of a set of predefined roles/concepts? Play can be definitely an option since it’s operating in a different sphere, has a different approach to rules than everyday life.

You are right, the combination of baroque aesthetics with the Interface / video games feels weird at first sight, maybe that’s one of the reasons I chose for that. The (art) historical canon is mostly described as one of ruptures. A lot of people experience digital technology as hocuspocus beyond their understanding. That’s why profiling via digital media works so well, so easy: many people don’t see what’s really happening while handling it, namely, that it is a tool of control. I guess, analogue natives believe that it has nothing to do with their life and issues. In fact, the opposite is true. To view history in its continuation of social techniques, connecting pre-digital times to the present time – as I did in my series of paintings – could probably help to disclose the ‘secret’ of digital media. And I guess, there are many ways to do that. That’s why I thought about joining you guys – to find further and more applicable ways, as Fine Arts is a field using a certain code, not intelligible by itself. So, I’m not sure yet if my perspective can be useful here but if so, could be much fun to join you!

PS: My understanding of the interface comes in large parts from Alexander Galloway. Everybody who likes to know more on the theme:


Hi everybody! I’m Zack! I’m a playful artist and game designer inspired by Bernie De Koven among others. I’m currently living in Japan but used to be based in Berlin and went to various European play festivals and loved them.

I think Trust in Play sounds like an exciting initiative and I hope it helps more people have fun with games and play! (And my website is if you wanna see a few pics :slight_smile:)


Hello all!

My name is Marie Claire LeBlanc Flanagan. I make experimental video games and design play experiences.

I’m interested in the spaces between people, how we come together and how we navigate our way in the world.

I recently made a game called Common for a contemporary art festival in Canada. It was a game about community trust (not trust like “the prisoners dilemma”, not trust as “I can predict what you will do”, not trust as “faith”, not even trust as “I think you won’t hurt me”) but trust as a way of being together: trust as a decentralized thing we slowly build together with each other and with the environment around us.

The game was played out over a month with everyone in the city invited to play. It was AMAZING! But also it was hard, it was technically, emotionally, and socially exhausting. It was so draining I haven’t even documented the work yet, it took me months to regrow my creative strength!

Anyway, I’m delighted to meet you all. Anyone interested in saying hello please do write me. I’m always looking for people who are excited about experimenting with play and curious about this world.


Hi, I’m Gabi Linde from Cologne Germany. I’m an experiential designer; urban activist for playful public spaces; advocate for play and playful development; explorer & storyteller play personality by nature, and MBTI: ENFP.
My play interest is based on social play in the realm of: Alternative realities / worlds preferably dystopias and utopias; immersive play; time travel; secrets, mysteries and secret societies; urban social interventions; civic participation; slow games / awareness; rituals; urban theater; location based games; participatory urban art & play.
What I want to explore more of (as of 2019): Blackbox larp in general; the idea of blackbox larp and social interventions, theater and museal contexts in public spaces; simulation games on complex structures of civic participation and city of the future; public retreat spaces.
I work as a facilitator, experiential educator, coordinator, curator, game runner, lecturer & speaker; mainly working with educational & civic institutions, NGOs and municipalities.
Founder of HiddenCampus, creating playful spaces for people to grow: Campus, commonly known as a university areal, is translated ‘playground’ from Latin. HiddenCampus creates playful spaces to learn and experience to lead a happier and healthier life. These spaces can emerge everywhere - sometimes where you least expect it. I work as a freelancer.
I co-run the collectives: play:cologne, League of Creative Interventionists Köln, and Midnight Mystery Ride Köln and I love to collaborate :slight_smile:


Thanks for sharing the links! Fascinated by Departament Gier. Good thing FB helps translate the text :slight_smile:


Hey Natalia!

About me:
My experience with LARP started a few years ago when we first introduced it to the Greek scene. Back then, Greece had a lot of RPG action but little to zero larp experience (except of some small long dead initiatives of 7-10 people), so there was a lot to build up. I personally started with (fantasy boffer larp) community building (still do, as we now have a living - active community of 100-120 people), experimenting on organizing (from simple game quests, to larger social and war events) and trying a dozen different approaches to see which worked best. After two years, when the hobby was stable, I turned to promoting it (through a newly found “LARP Project: Athens”) to the geek/fantasy/gamer communities of Greece. It went pretty well: nowadays we have TV appearances, we participate in all the available Cons, travel across the Balkans/Europe for experience, and are active in most greek settings that have sprung by now. I still organize thingies (i also turned to vampire larps, narrated one for two years), but I heavily try to keep it fresh and expanding.

About the urban part:
Athens is very peculiar city. I often say that it is a lake of chaos, with small edemic islands of order. Also a “living Necropolis”, and a city of undercover magick. And - to my perception - it pretty much is so. A massive amount of shops/buildings of the city center are long closed, unique architectural phenomena like “Στοές” (they are like dungeons running under and between city blocks - once used as a shopping hub) are abandoned and forgotten, and extremely vibrant/strangely magical areas are left unwalked. Yet we have a thriving amount of Greeks that love exploration, escape rooms, that are philosophicaly/theologicaly/occultisticaly curious, that adore the arts and fairy tails, that frequent thematic cafe/wine bars and are generally active in matters of city, I really believe in revivi-fying/remagi-fying Athens/greek cities through live games and I generally find it rather possible. I am just in the process of expanding my knowledge-pot before attempting it, since it will be a massively bigger project than the ones I am used to, and it will definately require a lot of community building (which always demands a part of your soul).

I googled Journey/Ljubliana but it doesn’t really seem to pop up results. Can you direct me to somewhere that I could read some details, or, if possible, explain me a bit how that worked? Along with aaaany other advices, tips, ideas, views, and generally anything that you think that it could be used in a brand new city to work with - (they would be really really appreciated ^^ ).

Thank you for your time :3


Hi Charis, your story is really funny and important as well!
I had a similar one once: I had to present our first project (CriticalCity Upload) to the public administration in Modena, I took my car from Milan and I started my 3 hours trip to go there: the trip was booooring, so on the highway I was rehearse my presentation by myself. If someone passed me along was probably seeing this person talking to himself and gesticulating as well, a strange scene.
Anyway, that was the only thing to do…so :man_shrugging:

When I’ve arrived in Modena I parked the car and on putting my backpack my laptop slipped out and crashed on the ground!
I was shocked…damn all this preparation and now this?
The thing was that it wasn’t working at all, I’ve tried everything, Macumba, Catholics prayers, battery, no battery, restart, but nothing, completely dead.

What could I do?
So I went in anyway, I explained the situation and I did the presentation without any slide, with this dead screen on my side…
but at that point without understanding it, I knew the entire presentation by heart so the result was amazing, actually it was better because I could focus the entire time on the eyes of the people in front of me.

You never know what technology -and the absence of it- can give to you :slight_smile:


Hi Nina!

I’m fascinated by theme parks and festivals, coming from urban planning and game design those are two things that really fascinated me.
I just visited Las Vegas and it has an enormous impact on me, maybe I will share some reflection in the next weeks.
Like @Kazz I’m also super interested on your dissertation!


Hey Will, great to have you here!

Is HiddenCity this one?, I’m organizing a webinar on May 9th where I would love to talk about sustainability (moneyyy) would you love to participate as a speaker?
As Head of Experience I think that you could share some insights on how this kind of experience works and sustain themselves that could be interesting for other designers as well…thanks!


Hello Marie Claire and bienvenue!

I visitedTAG lab in 2016, I met there Lynn Hughes, Gina and Ida Marie, it is an amazing space, I loved it! The result was an interview for my podcast that I had with Lynn about games, theater and learning experiences, very interesting!
How was your experience there? I’m curious on mapping different kind of opportunities that this kind of labs can offer to designer and artists. Btw I’m based in Baltimore at MICA GameLab, which is similar to TAG but more focused on teaching then researching I guess?


Hello everyone, my name is Matteo Uguzzoni (he, his, him as a pronoun) and I’m an architect and a game designer from Italy, I’m currently based in Baltimore where I’m the Game Designer in Residence at the MICA GameLab.

In Trust in Play I’m responsible for the Nomad branch, (together with @natalia_skoczylas) which means that we are going to facilitate actions in different places around Europe and the world.

Other things that I’ve done are here (Urban Games Factory) and here (the Playcast - a podcast about Immersive Theater, Real life game and everything in between).

This year as Game Designer in residence gave me a lot of space to experiment, so I’m now play testing a tabletop game (based on Italo Calvino’s book Invisible Cities) and writing a short essay around the concept of “Immersive” (let’s talk about it: I have opinions! :smile:

I love design games because it is an incredible excuse to travel and meet great human beings, and this humans usually are trying to create incredible experiences for other people, so it’s like the most generous crowd in the planet?

I’m looking forward to meet you all, speaking of which I’m organizing a webinar around a topic that is key (in my experience) in the career of a Urban Game Designer: MONEY and sustainability, I’ve just posted my ideas here, any suggestion is appreciated.



Yeah it is. I was working for them when I came to Milan. Happy to talk about making money from commercial games. I can’t talk about specific financials but can definitely speak generally about getting to a profitable business model. You should also get Gwyn to talk. Is there a fee for speaking? How long do you want me to talk for?


Hahaha I love the luxurious description of your misfortunes and the way you handled the whole situation! :clap:
Sometimes we just need to let go of the training wheels and ride on our own :wink:

This also reminds me of Bill Brown’s take on things and how we come across the things’ “essence” when they break; maybe we also come across our own re-defined “essence” after such an event!

Nice e-meeting you Matteo :slight_smile:


Thanks Kazz! Good facebook :slight_smile: If have any questions I can explain in english.
p.s. Me and my dachshund are fascinated with Go Walkeez!


Hello all!!!

This is Bagel and Balloon, a newly minted interactive theatre company :slight_smile: Bagel is game designer Kai Oliver and Balloon is myself, theatre maker Francine Dulong. Part performance, part research, dedicated to open source, we are super interested in the relationship between participatory audiences, technology and live performance/performers. Our website home for all our projects is coming soon - super excited to meet others in this community and make things!

With much serendipity Kai (Bagel) and I (Balloon) met during a participatory theatre show run by Coney in London, Early Days of a Better Nation_emphasized text_ . Kai was doing a Game Design Masters at the National Film and Television School and interning with Coney. I was a newly arrived Canadian to London, pursuing a Masters in Applied Theatre at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and this was my first participatory/interactive theatre experience (I liked the show so much I did a placement as an Assitant Director for their tour a few months later! ) Kai asked me if my faction wanted to help his faction create a vaccine to save the fictitous country of Dacia in a whirlwind adventure of civil war and political upheavel. Now 4 years later we’re married!

Bagel has been into games of all sorts since childhood ( since writing my thesis on the resonances between Applied Theatre and Game Design I started a participatory theatre company centered around exploring our environment We’ve cross-pollinated a lot of each other’s work, from a live board game Revolution, to an interactive tale of sustainable energy and fracking at Brighton Fringe, from community memorial and healing in the face of gun violence at Virgina Tech, to housing and gentrification across 3 continents, to a video game Jeremy Corbyn chasing down tax dodging Tories. We both really have a love for exploring the world through play and we want to create spaces where groups of people across age, race, background get together to discover new ways of being, and also just BE together. Now officially as Bagel and Balloon, our work seeks to invite audiences in, to imagine new possiblities, and perhaps repattern our world. As humans we have come to rely heavily on our cities and yet their potential that is constantly wasted or privatized - we’d like to be a force to turn that around.

Our current project, Acouscous, began at the Spatial Music Workshop run by ICAT last August - we’re playing with Pozyx tracking tech to make an interactive experience where audiences use objects to navigate and influence Spatial 360 sound. When we started, we had no idea what objects to play with…I looked up at the 100some speakers all the way up from ceiling to floor in the CUBE at ICAT and said ‘This space is so TALL! How can we take advantage of this verticality?’ Bagel responded ‘Helium Balloons!’ :smiley:

Looking forward to wherever these digital roads may take us,
Bagel (Kai) and Balloon (Francine)


Thanks M! You’re both welcome to join our culture walks :slight_smile:


Wow, cool, I’d love to hear more about MICA GameLab some time!


Hello wonderfully interesting pips!

I am Miljena Vučković, from Novi Sad, Serbia. My main interest is Space, so I work as spatial/scenic designer and event manager, looking forward to further expand my knowledge about connected interests including immersive theater and urban games.

During previous several years I worked as creator and organizer on projects various in style and scale - theatre plays, performances, movies, music videos, happenings, commercial events, festivals, spatial interventions and installations, etc. Coming from field of Architecture, I am interested in ways of use-, interaction and influence between people and public space.

Serve as vice-president and project manager in “Scenatoria” - organisation that promotes built heritage and builds audience for ambiental theatre through production of various performative forms in neglected and endangered monuments of culture. We did several successful interactive experiences and performative (educational) activities, and produced illustrated maps with “hidden heritage treasure” of Petrovaradin Fortress historical urban landscape.

In near future we plan to produce immersive theatre and urban game in this officially protected but dilapidated built heritage environment / former “Joseph Powder Storage” within Petrovaradin Fortress complex. We aspire to create more than theater and museal experience in this incredible place - XVIII century fortification - again exploring tactile understanding of surrounding, relationship between space and bodies, performers and audience. We would like to offer audience active, involving and multisensory physical experience.

Always imagining and playing with the idea of being in a game, and inspired by talk of Mirko Stojković about urban games (and many more immersive theatre creators), I hope to make something in which would I personally love to participate as audience / visitor.

Hope to join this group because I believe in learning by sharing and doing, and power of collaboration. I also consider constant education crucial for creative development.

I got so curious just reading what all of you do and aspire to, looking forward to continue!