Black and Rufous Giant Elephant-Shrew
Image shared by Smithsonian’s National Zoo on Flickr via a Creative Commons License.

Just to let you all know that I shall hopefully have my first ever proper game played at Larkin’ About‘s Winter games event. I’ve been coming at the world of pervasive games and contemporary performance from a largely writerly point of view so far, hence my affinity for the soundwalk form, I think, and although I love crafting soundwalks, I thought it would be good for me to have a go at something looser, and more game-y (ludic, I should say) and force myself out of control.

I thought something simple would be a good place to start, so it’s roughly a treasure hunt/capture the flag kind of cross, the rule set as it stands thus:


For 8-20 players

Set up
Your normal habitat’s food supply is under threat because of a Summer of floods and damp weather, it’s getting cold and you need to prepare for winter, so you’ve had to venture into the city to find food…

– To be played within a small area of dark city-space.
– Up to four teams (3 will work best, I think) – the Door Mice, the Voles, the Shrews and the Weasels.
– Each team wears a coloured glo-stick in their team colour and gets a certain number of the same colour, unsnapped.
– The aim of the game is to collect pieces of ‘food’ back at the nest.
– Players can only carry one piece of food at one time.
– There are 2 sizes of food, blue and red, blue food is worth 2 food-points and requires two animals to carry it, they must link arms to pick it up.
– Players cannot communicate using anything other than the word ‘squeak’, but they can mark routes with their ‘scent’ – snapped glo-sticks.
– If a nest is unguarded, the food stored in it can be stolen.
– The winning team is the one with the most food within 10 minutes. OR The winner is the first team to a certain number of foodstuffs and all at the nest within the time limit.

Needed per iteration:
– Glow sticks of up to 4 colours
– ‘Food’ hidden around the space, not too grouped together. Painted ping pong balls are best.
– Something to signify a nest

So there you go. Simple, I know, and I think for the next one I’ll try and play with the form a bit, but just as Walk With Me was my first 10 minute test of the soundwalk form, so Hibernate! will hopefully be a simple test of game-like stuff.

I’m currently working with the Larkin’ folk to iron out a final rule set, and all being well it should get its first test on the 27th of November in Manchester. Exciting!

Here are the full details for the Larkin’ event:

Larkin’ in the Winter

Saturday 27th November, 6pm onwards

greenroom bar, 54-56 Whitworth Street West, Manchester, M1 5WW


The theme ‘Welcoming in the Winter’ aims to celebrate the charm and magic of our fine Northern city in the winter.  The programme includes Hide the Guy by local designer Matt Smith, a game where you must assist your fellow Catholics in hiding Guy Fawkes from King James’ Guards.  Also, make sure you check out http://7candlesmcr.tumblr.com/ in advance of the night for a heads-up on some of the gloomy locations you’ll need to illuminate in Vee Uye’s game 7:Candles:Mcr, which will play out simultaneously in the city centre and on Twitter.  Rumours are also circulating of the Spirits of Summer attempting to eliminate winter…get ready to protect the city in a secret game to be played at the end of the evening…

Wear all weather clothes!

And if you have any comments or suggestions, they’re very welcome.

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5 Responses to “Hibernate!”

  1. Gwyn Morfey November 14, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    This reminds me of the Potato Game. I really like the ‘glowstick trail’ mechanic.. although are other teams free to interfere with your trail? What does “guarded” mean, and does this mean that the optimal strategy is to have a nest guard at all times? (which would be boring)

    Actually, what sort of trail would I create, as a player? If the food is grouped then I’m going to want to have the rest of my team find the stuff I can’t carry, but if it’s not grouped then I don’t need to.

  2. Hannah Nicklin November 14, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    Hi Gwyn, thanks for this, brilliant stuff! *googles the Potato Game* Ahhh. Yes, I see the likeness.

    I would say that within the setup of the game you can’t change someone’s glostick trail, just as you can’t erase a scent, but you could lay sticks on top of others. Guarded generally means ‘in the way of’, a creature would only venture into an empty burrow/nest unless they were very brave. So there’s room for sneakiness there. The idea of having the double-people pick ups will hopefully mean the nest is vacated often enough. The food will be grouped, but not too much in one place. But as a first test of this game, we’ll get to find out how much of this works in practice, and if people break the rules in any useful ways ;)


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