One of the few things that I like about New York City is the density of unique events. On Friday, I read about the Come Out and Play festival in Brooklyn and figured that would be some good times for Glo and I. It was!
The essence of the festival is a mix of ARGs and impromptu sports. The above picture is me playing the awfully named “OMMRPG” which should really be called “Laser Football”. The idea is that each team has one laser pointer and a number of players with mirrors and must direct the laser to a “goal” while avoiding the other team’s defenders. It is wildly chaotic and actually works without a lot of rules. I stealthily hid behind an “official” and scored three times before the opposing team caught on and I was marked for the rest of the game. Once you are marked, there is little you can do to score, which is a weakness of the game (in basketball or soccer you can out-finesse someone to shake off a defender, in this, due to the precision required of angling a mirror, it is less possible). After I was sufficiently frustrated by a defender, I passed off my mirror to another player. I think more organization would lead to these kinds of strategies – passing mirrors to confuse defenders. I was surprised at how well the game worked.
There were a number of games that took place over the entire weekend. One was hosted by Scvngr. Since they have no vowels, you know they are Web 2.0. You download the Scvngr app for Android or iPhone and you are led on a photo scavenger hunt around town. It is the perfect melding of an old game with new technology and if AT&T’s network wasn’t such balls, it would have been very clever and smooth. Scvngr allows you to set up your own scavenger hunts for others. They are partnering with museums and such to offer these sort of ludically-guided tours (I just made that phrase up, sorry).
You can see on the above picture a bandanna tied to my leg that says “Human”. It was part of another of the whole-weekend games called simply Humans vs. Zombies. It is essentially Massively Multiplayer Thematic Tag. One player starts out as Subject Zero and by tagging humans (those with bandannas on their arms or legs) can turn hapless humans into flesh-eating zombies (indicated by bandannas worn on the head). Humans can stun zombies by hitting them with socks or nerf guns at which point they must wear their bandanna around their neck and cannot tag for ten minutes.
Gloriana and I were on our way to an event on Saturday morning when we saw a Zombie across the street in the direction we were headed. I paused and we made eye contact, yet he smiled and continued walking away from us. Were we safe? Was it a trap? I peeked around the corner. No Zombie there. But by then it was too late. The Zombie was hiding behind a trash can. I was taken, but Gloriana survived by spiking me and the attacker with socks.
Now, this led to an uncomfortable situation. I was a shambling shell of humanity while Glo was still pure. Nonetheless, she felt like she had a hand on the situation. She set her phone to go off in ten-minute intervals. When it would ring, she would instantly spike me with a sock. Hmph. I felt like in the last scene of Shaun of the Dead where Ed is chained to the shed and can only play Timesplitters instead of eating flesh.
Glo was protected in safe zones like the park (the game was suspended if you were in the park playing another game, in a business or crossing a street). Also helpful was the overprepared Nerf-based militia that patrolled Park Slope looking for zeds to shoot. Not pictured above is the guy who had a bandoleer of socks and a belt of Nerf cartridges.
But as in the precautionary zombie movies, a split second of indecision can upend an entire life. I was on the phone talking to a friend who were we going to meet for the day. While Glo thought I was distracted, she crossed the threshold of the park and was no longer in a safe zone. I tagged her “undead” and she was upset! Geeze, you would have thought that I did something bad like forget her birthday – I only converted her to a mindless automaton of insatiable hunger!
We continued on with the games. “Field Crumpets” was a lively variation on field hockey that was just wacky enough to be novel. We participated in a horde event where we Zombies milled about trying to trap helpless humans (we won!). And we also took great efforts to complete the SCVNGR hunt. We used props for extra effect. The prompt was to hug a tree in Prospect Park. Instead, I prosposed to one:
Our pictures were pretty good (Glo is a creative photographer) and in the end thanks in part to our funny pictures, we won the SCVNGR hunt! Our prize? A new 3G iPad! Whoa! Supposedly, they are ordering it today and it will be in the mail.
If it doesn’t show up, I know a horde of flesh-rending abominations that I can send to the SCVNGR headquarters.