Free London's Monsters

From Ludocity
Free London's Monsters
Free london's monsters front.jpg
Designer: Story for mixed realities by Andrew Wilson, game design by Andrew Wilson and Alex Fleetwood
Year: unknown
Players: 1+
Stuff required: 2 laptops, scanner, projector, art materials.
Crew required: One crew, one illustrator.
Preparation: Thirty minutes.
Time required: One hour onwards
Place required: At present Free London's Monsters is a very ambient game, best played where there are other things going on at the same time, or where, during the course of a day or an evening, there will be lots of passers-by who might want to play.
Activities: Writing, drawing.
This is an untested game. Its rules are written, but it hasn't been tested out yet.
This game is made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons licence. (What does this mean?)

Free London's Monsters!

"Djik lurks round Hoxton Square on hot days, climbs through open car windows and turns bad music up really loud."

Free London's Monsters is an ambient game in which players use text messages to set free London's monsters, and then an illustrator, or the players themselves, draw the monsters in the host venue during the game, and the drawings are displayed as soon as they are finished, either projected if the equipment is available or by displaying the drawings on the walls.

Prizes can be awarded for the most satisfying monsters to draw chosen by the illustrator.

The Story of London's Monsters

“There haven't always been great towns and cities like London, full of people hurrying to and fro to school or work.

Where now stand shops, factories and offices were once streams, woods and hillsides.

And every one of those places, even the loneliest tree standing by itself on the moors, had a monster to guard it.

The place belonged to the monster, and the monster belonged to the place.

So when towns and cities were built, the monsters had to stay, trapped under the tall buildings made of brick and stone and concrete.

And there they remained, for hundreds of years.



The Venue

Free London's Monsters is a very ambient game, best played where there are other things going on at the same time, or where, during the course of a day or an evening, there will be lots of passers-by who might want to play.

What you'll need

wifi remember to check that you can get onto it (a 3G phone would do if necessary)

a wall to project on Ideally, the wall will be in the same space as the players will be gathering.


a wall to stick the illustrations on if you are going to display the illustrations on paper rather than projecting, look for wall space where they are visible but won't get damaged, and check with the venue that they don't mind blutack.

a projector, a scanner, two laptops (one wifi enabled) beg, borrow, steal, bribe or lawfully purchase

at least one illustrator. This is a human illustrator, not the software programme. One illustrator might use the other, but watching the monsters taking shape on paper with pens, pencils, coloured chalk or potato printing might have more magic as a performance.

If you run this event with children, an artist can help children to illustrate their monsters.

art table where players can illustrate their own monsters. Don't make the materials look too serious - if the players feel they have to match the illustrator they probably won't have a go - the materials should make it look like fun.

paper, pencils, felt tips, crayons, glitter, stickers and so on: beg, borrow, steal, bribe or lawfully purchase some for the art table.

instruction flyers: Print out enough Free London's Monsters instructions flyers for everyone who is likely to attend the venue – there is no reason why the game can't go on after you've left, so if you want, print more than you'll need and leave some behind or distribute in other places before and after the event.

Download and Print the Instructions Flyer

The flyers are A5 double sided, so print A4 sheets once, turn them over and put them back in the paper drawer and print the same number again, then cut the sheets in half.

Running the game.

Find a space where you can project, or a wall where you can stick up the drawings, ideally where players/audience are likely to gather and where you can put the illustrator nearby.

Find somewhere for the illustrator to work where players/audience can watch them at work, and can easily make the link between the illustrator and the projections.

Make up a couple of monsters of your own, or choose a few that have already been set free in London, and set the illustrator to work on them, so that you have some monsters to project as soon as the projector is running. Hook up the projector to the non wifi laptop.

Hook up the scanner to the wifi laptop on a table close to the illustrator.

Set up the “art table” near the illustrator.

As soon as the illustrator has finished the first two monsters, scan them, and put them into a powerpoint presentation with an automatic transition to the next slide after 4 or 5 minutes, and transfer this to the projector laptop by USB.

Project the first slideshow.

As people gather, hand out the instruction to anyone who is interested.

Players will be using their mobile phones so be ready to answer questions and reassure players about costs and privacy as needs be.

On the wifi laptop go to and watch for the first monsters as they are sent in. Copy down the first few monsters and hand them to the illustrator – they will only be 160 characters long so this is easy, but watch your handwriting.

When you have some monsters, drawn by the illustrator or other participants using the art materials, scan them, put them on the same powerpoint before the earlier monsters, and transfer to the projector.

Repeat this as often as possible until the illustrator's arm drops off - the more quickly people see the loop between freeing a monster by text, a picture of their monster (drawn by themselves or the illustrator), and seeing it projected, the more likely they are to take part.

At the end of the evening you might want to offer small prizes, and one way choosing winners is to ask the illustrator which three monsters they enjoyed drawing the most.

Call for Collaborators

Blink ([1]) are hoping to find collaborators to work with to develop new games for Free London's Monsters and Thumbprint.

New game play for Free London's Monsters

What other game play could there be for Free London's Monsters?

Once people have set free their own monster, what could happen next?

We'd welcome any new games designed to use Free London's Monsters as a starting point.

Any new game mechanics would have to use the text message system as it is now (we can't afford any further development!), and low cost analogue materials like dice, cards, maps and so on.

We're very happy for any new games to be solely credited to their designers, so long as they make reference to Free London's Monsters and are released on the same creative commons terms as other games on Ludocity.

New games using Thumbprint

The text message part of Free London's Monsters uses a platform called Thumbprint that has been designed to run any number of simple text message events like Free London's Monsters, anywhere and everywhere in a city.

If using Thumbprint could add something to a game you are planning, or you'd like to design a game using Thumbprint, we would be delighted – that is what we built it for!

If you do use Thumbprint we'd love to hear from you, and we'll offer any support we can, but there is no need to submit the game to us for permission, please just go ahead and try it out.

The best way to understand what Thumbprint offers is to try it out by playing Monsters, then have a look on when you get home.