playARK’s DIY Gaming session @WMC Jan’16

IMG_2855.jpg…and there goes the third instalment of playARK After Dark’s gaming sessions at the WMC.

Since November playARK have been running their monthly After Dark game sessions in Cardiff Bay. We’ve seen mystery phone calls, human bingo and santa dashes and last week we had spaghetti westerns and zombie-tashes! Usually I’m deep in the middle of these sessions, hiding behind pillars playing characters over the phone or running around Cardiff dressed as an urban penguin chasing after Santa’s helpers (typical evening out really) so it was refreshing to actually play some new and developing games this time around.

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We started off with a trio of simple to run, hard to put down games; Lemon Joust, which was a bit like an egg and spoon race but with lemons and fighting; Spaghetti Standoff, which saw the whole group protecting strands of uncooked spaghetti in pairs in a battle to see who would be holding the last remaining unsnapped pasta strand; and Mitt Rowdy, a head-to-head where players had to be the first to pick up a gambling chip off the floor whilst wearing an oven mitt. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well it’s not, it’s solid. And violent. Health and safety nightmare. Great fun.

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In a slight change to the previous sessions the tables were turned and after the opening games got everyone’s creative synapses’ firing the players became the creators of the evening’s merriment. Using a complex random selection algorithm (playARK’s flashcards) teams were sent around the WMC with the tools and the technologies to create their own games which we tried, tested, enjoied and improved on throughout the evening.

Given a ball of wool, some fake moustaches, party hats and a few general pointers each team bar none came back with an interesting and engaging game; even the games that needed a bit of tweaking kept us all thinking of ways to re-imagine and make playing it a smoother experience..

It still surprises me makes me smile seeing how willing a groups of adult strangers are to drop the pretensions of everyday life and let themselves go a bit ballistic on a school night, usually without the aid of too much alcohol too. People usually find a drink the social lubricant that they need to allow themselves to open up and go a bit – next time you go out try bringing some uncooked spaghetti and challenging someone to a showdown – granted, you might get a few odd looks, but I think we’re all looking for permission to let go and start with the silly, so why not be the one to get it going?

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The night culminated in a mass game of Tashocolips – a zombie chase style game with a twist. Created that evening the game took over the WMC foyer on it’s debut, looking like a real-life space invaders / dawn of the dead mash-up with facial hair. We all got so carried away with making sure there was a winner we ran over time, but still people stayed to see it through and have a natter afterwards.

Really looking forward to the  next week – again there’ll be a few new games, a guest session from Craig Quat a circus master from No Fit State, a massive game of party classic Werewolf and I’ll be giving DriftMob for a spin around the WMC. I’ve already started on the health and safety forms.

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Tickets for february’s playARK After Dark are available from eventbrite now.

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