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This talk page is a merge of several threads from the old, retired forums.


Playmakers is a game that Hide&Seek are making over the course of the next few months, leading up to the Hide&Seek Weekender at the Southbank Centre. There's a basic game format; there's a few variations on the rulesets that have been tried (some of them available on Ludocity).

And what there is so far, is a basic underlying framework for the game:

1. There are multiple teams (usually three) with 10 to 15 players each. 2. Each team has a colour; team members wear a ribbon or a sports bib to identify them. 3. Each team receives a brightly-coloured tripod with a video camera on top, and a list of targets. Everyone presses "record" at the same time. 4. Teams then try to film these targets in a set time, which wins them points. 5. Teams can also win points by filming members of opposing teams, and their tripods 6. At the end of this first phase, teams gather and watch the video they've been filming, which is played back on different screens simultaneously. Each team's video is scored by a different scorer. 7. At the end of the game, the team with the most points is the winner.

There's a lot of space for variation in this. So far, we've varied things like:

  • What the targets are (objects shown by photograph, objects described by a code, acts which the team has to perform)
  • The makeup of the team (for example, we've tried planting traitors in some of the teams)
  • The makeup of the rounds (we’ve had long rounds, short rounds, and multiple rounds)
  • The theme (it's been surveillance-themed, unthemed, and post-apocalyptic world-without-water incomprehensible-ritual themed, which seemed like a really good idea at the time)

but there's room for much, much more variation and refinement for that - so, er, you know. Any ideas? --Holly (talk) 2009-05-20 10:36:32


How should all these different components fit together? --Holly (talk) 2009-05-20 10:18:56

Questions we'll be hoping to get closer to answering after trying out some stuff in Birmingham this evening:

How do roped-together teams behave? Can we start allocating different responsibilities to team members? How do teams react to the Synapse? Does Synapse-thinking match up to real-world-doings? (filmy ideas) How do the threat of loud noises and flashy lights affect the teams? Do the home-made tilt switches work? Does a steady-cam improve things?

--genzaichi (talk) 2009-06-14 10:10:25


One problem with the game as it stands is that there's not that much of a feeling of good gameplay being rewarded. The balance of points for filming targets and opposing teams isn't right; adding extra ways to get points (for example, by identifying traitors successfully) doesn't necessarily work with the rest of the game. So, how should scoring work - how many seconds of filming another team's tripod, for example, should be equal to successfully finding all the targets? --Holly (talk) 2009-05-20 10:24:18

Props, craft and costumes

At the moment, there's the tripods; there are sports bibs. That doesn't have to be the case. Maybe there could be different costumes for different roles within a team; or maybe the people presenting the game need costumes, or someone running around the space as a target has a costume, or something else entirely. Maybe the tripod isn't a tripod, but an enormous teddy-bear. Maybe it's a balloon that's gradually inflated over the course of the game. Maybe it's a perambulator with a goldfish bowl inside, who knows? --Holly (talk) 2009-05-20 10:24:55


The game will be played at the H&S Weekender around the Southbank Centre, and it'd be nice if the basic game could work in a variety of locations, but what's happening in the space? How far should people go, and what's there when they get there? Is there a secret dance extravaganza that they need to find and film? A hot air balloon (this is another thing we can't actually afford this)? Something happening, something installed, something participatory, something they need to create themselves - what's there? --Holly (talk) 2009-05-20 10:26:01


So, the video playback - is it fun to watch, should it be more fun? How should people be filming? Is there some way to make the videos... prettier, and if so is that a desirable end, or should the focus be purely on making it easy to score? --Holly (talk) 2009-05-20 10:28:48

For me the answer to the question about the video being fun to watch is so far "no" (shrine-a post-game playback, vimeo versions appearing on playmakers website).

I'm in the process of shifting some paradigms around the video not being documentation or scoring process, but rather something that the teams have constructed to do the competing. Video Death Match - yeah! All the running around stuff beforehand is just preparation.

Current thinking is that the videos need to be more theatrical/dramatic with clear points of tension or conflict where they come together and clash to reveal victors. More like a film. It needs narrative/peaks/troughs/anticipation/climax to provide a series of emotional hooks.

The absolute key to this (probably) is in synchronising the video and the actions it captures.

I've got some vague, techy ideas of how to do this - all completely beyond my current skill levels - but will try and have some sort of prototype working for Monday's Hide&Speak... --genzaichi (talk) 2009-05-29 09:51:38

Hi Genzaichi,

Think your feedback is really interesting, it chimes with stuff HOlly & I have been thinking about in previous versions. Have been having some vaguely similar thoughts in response to Jane Mcgonigal's feedback over at the Playmakers site:

I'm sorry about the unsychronised playback that happened in Shrine #A - the only time it's been off. The BFI playback was much more fun.

Am going to blog on Playmakers site now about your comments alongside team dynamic comments as I think they reflect one another.

Looking forward to seeing your prototype tomorrow! --Alex Fleetwood (talk) 2009-05-31 20:22:37

Prototype in action with a really simple game mechanic (didn't plan the paper-scissors-stone!). Do I get extra points for the curtains?

Syncing the film footage is really easy and the very specific points of cohesion seem to work well.

It's about 6 minutes of gameplay with 5 interjections. If you were going to expand this to, say, 15 minutes of gameplay, what characteristics would the interjections have to have? Can you use them to build a narrative thread a la cinema? --genzaichi (talk) 2009-06-01 09:08:07

I think we have two very different audiences here - the players straight after a game, and non-players watching the footage on Vimeo. Are we aiming at one, or both - should we be making two different videos? And what's the atmosphere like when players are watching the feedback straight after a game - are they bored, or do they just chat and drink during the boring bits, and develop a communal hush when something interesting is happening?

How much difference would a soundtrack make, to give the audience something to focus on when there's nothing interesting in shot? I've just tried watching the Bond Sandpit footage with Last.FM "spy music" playing in the background, and even with the overlap being random and unedited, it seemed to work pretty well. --Kevan (talk) 2009-06-01 10:14:26

Stream of conciousness:

Players and non-players share basic expectations of what they want in return of giving up 10 minutes of their life to watch something and a shared 'language of film'. 2 groups might diverge after that, but got to get the fundamentals sorted first. Current Vimeo use as convenient shorthand for conveying flavours and ideas, but not yet being used for Finished Things. Split screen footage on playmakers site as shorthand for this. Split screen footage of first synapse test as shorthand for what's inside my head. Two different videos? Probably. Trying not to see the playback bit as being *after* the game, but instead as a different phase of the game. It's all game until we leave the room. Atmosphere during my shrine experience Atmosphere during the best game ever? Video shown as part of the game has to be the priority and has to follow on from the crowd running around and generally being fired-up and invested in stuff. "game with a finish" isn't good enough: it has to be a "game with a BIG finish". Video shown as part of the game has to follow on from running around bit immediately, therefore has to game has to be designed around producing the final film for the players. (no editing, scoring has to be apparent, scoring has to be easy and indisputable) Players have to have a reason for watching the film - scores have to emerge in such a way as you only get the winner revealed at the end Has to be a series of smaller hooks during the playback to keep players invested/interested in watching the whole film. Ramp. It. Up. Is there a way to change "watching the film" to "playing with the film" (ie less passive?) Drifting between the different videos is nice in moderation (wouldn't want to do it for (those) 10 minutes and could turn up some nice random interesting coincidental stuff, but how do you know when the 'something interesting's are happening. How can you engineer for the somethng interestings to happen?

--genzaichi (talk) 2009-06-02 12:07:56


So, there's a tripod. There's a video camera. There's a brightly-coloured feather-duster. But maybe there should be something else... a mobile phone, ringing with extra tasks, or letting teams communicate with each other? Some sort of tiny computer doing... something? GPS tracker? --Holly (talk) 2009-05-20 10:29:13

Team dynamic

One of the problems with the basic game is that it's very open to one player grabbing the tripod and running off, and some of the players feeling peripheral or not having anything to do. Should there be more roles for specific players? Different jobs to do? The traitors were a step towards this, as were the encoded clues, but should it be clearer, more extensive? What should the different team members be doing? --Holly (talk) 2009-05-20 10:30:26

See my comment at for my suggestion about this... Plus your excellent IR beacons idea. --benhenley (talk) 2009-05-23 08:51:52

I just did a project in a primary school where, on the first day, we needed to 'scan' the school grounds with The Anticipator to find out where something awesome was going to happen soon.

I was working with 60 7 year-olds in groups of 5 and I wanted to throw them straight into a situation where they all had an important role to play and where it was also critical that they worked as a team.

1 child on each of the two carrying handles for the main (and *unbelievably* expensive, my boss will kill me if we break it) detectory bit; 1 child carrying the display unit (attached to the detectory bit with wires), 1 child reading how many LEDs are lit up and another doing the map-reading. Sorted.

What happens if you remote the battery to the video cameras on a cable with a couple of push-to-make switches along its length? Someone's got to keep each switch pushed down or else the camera switches off.

Same sort of idea could be used to trigger loud noises or flashy lights if all switches aren't kept held down all of the time. Could be a relatively easy way to turn the tripod-carrying role into one that needs a few people working (and walking) together. --genzaichi (talk) 2009-05-25 23:16:10

I am pro tying people together (!) with ribbons so that the team has to stay as a unit. Maybe wrist to wrist.

I think there also might be something in giving people responsibilities for another player on the same team. Maybe family roles - mum, dad, great aunt, godfather etc etc. This could be something to add a narrative if that is something you are looking for and give people characters to think about and indulge in. I think it could be a way of holding the team together and also help to avoid players leaving the game before it's over, as players won't want to disappoint the person who is looking after them or will be encouraged not to by their partner. --Loose (talk) 2009-06-02 12:41:40

Ribbons!? I bought a 40m rope to experiment with :) --genzaichi (talk) 2009-06-02 15:22:18

How about experimenting with some superglue :) --Loose (talk) 2009-06-02 15:45:22

Yikes! The consequences of that could be horrific: imagine if you ended up having to permanently wear your sports bib... --genzaichi (talk) 2009-06-02 15:48:21

I played (and enjoyed) Playmakers at the BFI, but I do agree that there needs to be something to encourage inclusion of all - or most - of the players.

The main risk, as stated above, seems to be that brilliant as it is to get a whole range of ages involved a few adults take the camera at the start and bang! no one else gets a look in...

I'm not convinced that there was enough time/incentive to solve the puzzles set at the BFI playtest but I definitely liked the fact that there were mental as well as physical ways to contribute - if this can be retained I think it would be a positive addition.

Regarding possible amendments, I'm not sure where is it mentioned, but I like the idea of having an anchor in each shot, as well as the 'push to make' circuits - I can imagine that creating a lot of laughter.

I also think that you need something which ensures the camera is passed around as well as shared - would it work, perhaps, to keep back three different tream members at each phase in the game and give them responsibility for solving a set of puzzles?

Or, given this is already a fairly high-tech game, how about some sort of GPS tracking and have the comms officer/s (again, mentioned above I think) trying to guide their team by radio away from/towards the others teams, and perhaps even towards some moving film-targets??

That may shift all the power to the radio operators so (and apologies, I'm now thinking as I type) elements of the Capitain Madigan 'real computer game' in the East end last year but of that might work - perhaps if, instead of traitors, a few people were given radios/text devices, screens/pages identifying the teams' locations/target sites, with only minimal guidance? They would not know what the indicated sites actually were, and need to work out what team they were on, what the sites were etc with the teams themselves... If they worked it out maybe they could somehow give their team an advantage... --Apolobamba (talk) 2009-06-02 17:10:55

Had a quick tinker with chains of people, loud noises and flashy lights:

(scroll down for short video of test run) --genzaichi (talk) 2009-06-11 00:21:19

This is gorgeous! My goodness, you'd definitely want a big pedestrianised area to use them in, funny though it would be to make people try to play with them in Soho. --Holly (talk) 2009-06-11 20:35:02

...or a district full of light industrial factories that's deserted at the weekends Birmingham's cultural quarter...

Sadly I don't have the components to make a chain of switches for an entire team, but at Sunday's Market Pong event we'll be trying out players-on-a-rope with the two Synapses I now have. --genzaichi (talk) 2009-06-12 00:13:50

An interesting idea was suggested by the "storytelling" group during the Playmakers session - how about if the camera was on a trolley?

This was suggested as part of a potential Orwellian 1984 theme, where clunky technology would be thematically appropriate (so possibly the camera would be mounted inside a big old video camera shell, and there would be a teleprinter and so on attached). But using a heavy, clunky trolley would force the players to be more collaborative, avoiding the "drunk man steals camera" issue. Ideally, the camera would be on a motorised swivel and one player on the team would have a remote control to make it turn left or right.

If the playing area has stairs, you could even force the players to lay a ramp.

Or how about the camera is connected to base by a long "power cable", which the team have to keep from snagging? --benhenley (talk) 2009-06-15 10:57:20

Slowing the camera down would definitely fix the drunk problem, and would probably increase the surveillance aspect. With the cameras being more vulnerable, teams would need to be more careful crossing open spaces - normally you'd sprint through and maybe give a rival surveilling team a couple of points in the process, but if you had to spend ten slow seconds dragging the camera across, that becomes a much bigger reward for your rivals. (And the fact that this greater reward now exists would give some weight to the strategy of camping out in a good spot.)

If you wanted to go a little higher in the tech, accelerometers are pretty cheap, and you'd be able to enforce a completely fair speed limit. Have a row of LEDs attached to the device to show the players how fast it's going - whenever it hits the red zone, then a buzzer sounds once per second (which obviously gets picked up by the mic) and the team gets one penalty point per buzz. --Kevan (talk) 2009-06-15 11:19:27

The accelerometer idea is nice - and probably safer for the players than making the trolley really heavy/bulky. --benhenley (talk) 2009-06-15 11:23:50

I'd arrived at the trolley idea yesterday too - though from the direction of having a fixed camera angle on the players moving the trolley to ensure that they were always in shot. (We did a quick test with a string of runners with the camera being held by the last in the line - was wondering how a rigid 'string' would affect things.)

Made me think of this project some friends did a couple of years ago where the trolley had blackboard bits that were annotated as the trolley was wheeled around the city: --genzaichi (talk) 2009-06-15 11:51:25

While discussing how to play up the "dystopian surveillance" theme a bit more, I wondered if it might be interesting to have a second camera pointing backwards and recording what the players were doing (maybe even hidden so they aren't aware of it?). The footage wouldn't be for scoring, but just to improve the coverage of their reactions, making the edited footage of the game more interesting (and informative to game designers). --benhenley (talk) 2009-06-15 11:56:22


How is the game introduced, how should the rules be explained? Should there be actors? Pieces of paper in envelopes? Skywriting (we can't actually afford this)? Should it be part of the game, or clearly set apart from it? --Holly (talk) 2009-05-20 10:30:54