From Ludocity
The Sandpit
Event type: Playtest
Location: London
Frequency: Monthly
Run by: Hide and Seek
Website: The Sandpit

The Sandpit is a project of Hide and Seek, aimed at playing and playtesting new games and sports, and giving London's pervasive gaming community somewhere to meet. Participants are encouraged to develop their own ideas for new games, and to run them at subsequent Sandpits in consultation with the Sandpit crew.

Games that have been run are frequently revised following the initial playtest, and run with adjusted rules at subsequent Sandpits. Some of these games are then run at Hide and Seek itself.

Games actively developed through multiple playtests at the Sandpit include Checkpoint, Mudlarking with Francis Barking, Conversation Piece, Watch Your Back, Mr Smith, Congestion Zone, City Blocks, Semaphoria and Playmakers.


The Sandpit is itinerant, and has taken place in locations including BAC, Shunt and the Hayward Gallery. There are generally between three and six scheduled games which run at a set time, and which most participants play at least one of; pick-up-and-play games for smaller groups, for which props are made available and which can be played at any time; and a bar.

Sandpits are sometimes themed (previous themes have included "Spying and Lying" and "G.K. Chesterton"), but games which do not fit the theme remain welcome.


Sandpit #1 was held on the 13th of February 2008, with a social gaming theme. Amongst other things, we played The Gossip Game and Mudlarking with Francis Barking.

Sandpit #2 was held on the 20th of March 2008 with a “Listening” theme. Games included Holla-Lulu, HipSync, Thoughtcrime, The Freemasons and Francis Barking’s Crazy Golf.

Sandpit #3 was held on the 16th of April 2008, and was all about “Spying and Lying”. The night’s games included Trap Street, Dossier, Manila, Checkpoint and Make Your Own Moustache.

Sandpit #4 was held on the 10th of May 2008 as part of the Battersea Arts Centre’s Burst Festival. The night was themed around the works of G. K. Chesterton, who lived in Battersea and called it “most beautiful of human localities”. The games included The Man Who Was Thursday, Poets versus Policemen, Skipping Chesterton and Asparagus.

Sandpit #5 was held on the 30th of May 2008, as part of the Psycho Buildings exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. The evening included games of Comfort of Strangers and Small Freeze inside the gallery space, and Checkpoint, Be Part of My Drawing Machine, Lost Sport of Olympia and Skylarking on the terraces and staircases outside.

The Hide and Seek Festival itself ran at London’s Southbank Centre from the 27th to the 29th of June. It featured a lot of the best games we’ve hosted this year, along with the traditional range of pick up and play Sandpit games.

Sandpit Games at Duty Free was a smaller-scale Sandpit on the 26th of July, at Stoke Newington International Airport, and saw a new batch of games: Fishing for Compliments, Congestion Zone, Animal Mayhem, Hunt the Scavenger and Standoff.

Sandpit #6 ventured down to the coast, to the streets of Brighton. We played Comfort of Strangers and Checkpoint in the North Lanes, Standoff, Texas Hold Me and HipSync at the Lighthouse, with the ambient city games of Trap Street and City Blocks as their backdrop.

Sandpit #7 ran in darkest Soho in October 2008. We played Mr Smith, Night of the Vampire, Bogeyman Bagsnatch, Privacy is Dead, Surpass the Parcel, Hand to Hand, and were regaled with The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

After a winter hiatus, Sandpit #8 ran at the ICA in February 2009. Games included Semaphoria, Paparazzi, Press Gang, Earpiece, Privacy is Dead and Free London's Monsters.

Sandpit #9 was at the Barbican in March 2009. Games featured included Mr Smith, Watch Your Back, Semaphoria, Congestion Zone, Test Case, Function, Animal Mayhem, Hear No Evil See No Evil Speak No Evil and City Blocks.

Sandpit #10 was back at the ICA on the 22nd of April, with a theme of The End of the World. Games included Prophecy, Shrine, Ponzi!, Moveyhouse, Bacterius, Monster Hunt and Rubble.

Sandpit #11 took place on Saturday 2 May 2009, at BFI Southbank, and was an evening of James Bond-themed play and adventure. Games included QNTMFSLC, Surveillance, Watch Your Back, For Your Ears Only, Earpiece, I've Been Expecting You, Property of a Traitor, Lose the Tail and Lasertrap.

Sandpit #12 was on 3 June 2009 at the Soho Theatre. The theme was "Interactive Storytelling", with a day-long workshop. Games included Soho Spy Squad, Epit, Youdunnit, Theatre of Alienation, Greg McLaren’s Shoebox of Death, Conversation Piece and Search and Replace.

Subsequent Sandpits haven't yet been documented here.