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December: board game jam

December is board game month at League. The challenge is to invent new board, card, or table games. We can either jam with existing game materials, play-test ideas that individuals bring, or invent new game equipment. The “League Home Edition” kit of parts is available to get ideas rolling.

Work/play in your own groups, or come to one of the open gatherings at the Elm Park field house:

  • Tuesday December 10, 6-8 pm: with special guests R&D Straker, whose Kickstarter-funded board game Escape from Sunset Island: Zombie Apocalypse Simulator is currently in development.
  • Sunday December 15, 3-6 pm: game jam. Amongst other games, we’ll be working/playing on a game relate to moon phases for grunt gallery later that week.

Then come join us to play and for some seasonal festivities at at the grunt‘s  Early Winter Solstice Party on Thursday December 19.

Moon phases

League this week: Kitchen Science, Crowd Studies, Sports Day in Canada

Mushroom Cultivation using Kitchen Science Methods

Tuesday 26 November, 7:00-8:30 pm
Elm Park field house (sold out)

League regular Matthew from Mushboo is leading a workshop on how to cultivate gourmet and medicinal mushrooms using regular kitchen items. This event is for those with an introductory level of knowledge about fungi and mushrooms.

Participants will learn about the mushroom life cycle; simple growing medium preparation; sterilization methods; inoculation (planting) using liquid and dry methods; cloning from a fresh specimen; fungi in your garden; and identifying mushrooms.


FUSE: Crowd Studies at the Vancouver Art Gallery

Art | Music | Performance at the Vancouver Art Gallery
Friday 29 November
8:00 pm to 1:00 am

FUSE is the Vancouver Art Gallery’s late-night art, music and live performance event, always featuring live performances in the gallery spaces, DJs, eclectic gallery tours and unexpected surprises.

“This FUSE brings the sociability of the artist to the forefront, as relationships are built and explored in a variety of site-specific, socially-charged practices that maintain unique relationships to human interaction.”

Watch for League’s participatory game-like scenarios outside and through the galleries, culminating in a session game invention in the fourth-floor gallery.


Sports Day in Canada

Saturday 30 November, 3:00 pm
Kerrisdale Community Centre
5851 West Boulevard, Vancouver

Sports Day in Canada is a national celebration of sport at all levels, from grassroots to high performance, and a change to celebrate the power of sport, build community, and facilitate active living.

For Sports Day in Canada, League’s regular monthly play date moves over to the nearby Kerrisdale Community Centre, to introduce new groups to our style of creative problem-solving through play.

December is board game month at League

The depths of winter is a time for board games. For the month of December League will be running a board-game invention challenge. Some groups will be lent the “League Home Edition” kit of board game parts (developed by League regular Ian), and challenged to come up with a new board game. We’ll gather to play all the new games at our regular League play day at the end of the month. Contact us if you want to borrow the kit, or get together with friends or colleagues to come up with your own.


Upcoming play — 26 + 27 October

Play equipment for League’s recent event, The n Games, Nuit Blanche edition


Saturday 26 October, noon-2:00 at Great Northern Way Campus
Part of Culture + Community event
Access off East 1st Avenue

Sunday 27 October, noon-3:00 at Elm Park
Regular League play day


This weekend League focuses on urban games for groups, with two play events open to all.

Saturday 26 October we participate in Vancouver’s annual Culture + Community symposium, in which citizens, practitioners, and community leaders consider the impact of culture in the urban environment. League’s contribution will be to put action to thoughts, drawing participants out to the Great Northern Way campus for games that make use of that partially rebuilt industrial space. (In case of rain, we will be in the gym of St. Francis Xavier school, across the street.)

Sunday 27 October, our regular play day, we bring those games back to our Elm Park location. As usual, expect the games and equipment to continue to evolve.

League is a community-based art project that gathers people to invent games and play made-up sports as a practice of creative problem-solving, negotiation, and everyday performance. The games, equipment and space all change through play. Our gatherings, on the last Sunday of every month, are free and open to all; bring both body and mind.


The n Games, Nuit Blanche edition

When: 7pm Saturday 5 October to 7am Sunday 6 October
Where:  Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, 952 Queen Street West, Toronto

The n Games is a tournament of invented sports in which players test their teamwork, strategic skills, and adaptability by playing invented games they do not know. This version of The n Games will be presented in the courtyard of the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, an all-night contemporary art extravaganza in Toronto.

It will be an ongoing pick-up game involving the audience as participants, as well as local teams such as the Toronto Roller Derby D-VAS. The games to be played will range from vigorous to cerebral, straightforward to strategic, and will ultimately test the players’ abilities to creatively tackle challenges with both mind and body.

The n Games is presented by League, a community-based art project that gathers people to play invented games and sports as a form of creative problem-solving. For the Nuit Blanche edition of The n Games, we have partnered with the Department of Biological Flow experimental research-creation collective.

Advance press

- Sue Carter Flinn, Toronto Life, “Nuit Blanche 2013 Guide: 15 must-see spectacles at Toronto’s eighth annual all-night art crawl”, 30 September 2013.
- Canadian Art, “10 Artists’ Nuit Blanche Tips & Troubles“, 3 October 2013.
- Murray White, Toronto Star, “Nuit Blanche 2013: Shots in the dark“, 3 October 2013.
Jonathan Zettel, CTV Toronto, “Scotiabank Nuit Blanche: 10 things to see at the art-after-dark show“, 4 October 2013.


Germaine’s play report is here.


The n Games Vancouver edition

Were you looking for information about the inaugural Vancouver edition of The n Games this past September? Go here for information about the tournament and here for a tournament report.

Upcoming play — Sunday 29 September — Forage & Feast

Blackberries along the Arbutus rail corridor; public apple trees in Vancouver; the “One red paperclip” barter project; Bean Race 2013.

Forage & Feast

Sunday 29 September
Elm Park field house
Meet for foraging at 1:00 pm
Reconvene to cook and feast from 5:00 pm

Harvest season: a time of abundance, and a time to reconnect with cycles of production and distribution.

Not all urban residents grow food, but we can still use our wits and local knowledge to obtain it. This League play day will end with a feast of locally-sourced food:  ingredients gathered, gleaned, foraged, or bartered-for during the day.

Foraging:  To participate in the food-gathering, meet at the Elm Park field house at 1:00 pm, when we’ll send out teams with maps of possible food sources. Bring your ideas for gleaning sites, as well as non-monetary items that might be useful to trade for food.

Feasting:  Later, from 5:00pm, we’ll reconvene to cook and feast on the urban harvest. All are welcome at either or both parts of the day.

The feast will also mark the end of Bean Race 2013, the meandering but dramatic contest that has been growing in the field house yard since springtime.

This play date is organized in collaboration with Alisha Hackinen, a roller-derby athlete and graduate student in Soil Sciences, and Bean Race contestants Gropp’s Gallery Collective, who operate art residencies and gardens in their micro-Utopia off Main Street.

League is an open group that gathers to play invented games and sports as a practice of creative problem-solving. Our events are free and open to everyone; just bring both body and mind.

Images:  Blackberries along the Arbutus rail corridor, Vancouver; public apple trees in Vancouver; the “One red paperclip” barter project; Bean Race 2013.

Other upcoming League events

  • Tuesday September 24: How To Kickstart workshop (sold out) with Kickstarter’s art director Stephanie Pereira
  • Saturday October 26: League participates in Culture + Community event
  • Sunday October 26: regular League play day at Elm Park


Played: The n Games

On Sunday 8 September, six different teams from across the city met in Elm Park for The n Games, a tournament of League-style invented sports (background on the tournament and teams here). Half of the games had been invented at previous League events, a few were adapted from the annals of play traditions like the New Games movement, and some were hatched especially for the tournament by the League group.

Organized into two three-team round-robin pools followed by playoffs, the tournament had a new game starting every 40 minutes (schedule here). Immediately before each match, MC Jeremy Glen or a spectator drew the name and rules of the game to be played, and the teams set quickly to strategizing how best to play the game. Individual game reports follow below.

10:00 — Rethink vs Theatre Replacement


Pool x. Game played: Petri

League organizers were secretly glad that the first game to be drawn was one of our home-grown ones, which we had play-tested a lot over the past few weeks. Petri is in the family of bocce- and curling-like games, but uses a metaphor of viral infection, with the possibility of runaway scoring. A number of ‘dishes’ are marked on the field, and the goal is to infect them without being inoculated (neturalized) by the other team. Scoring is by multiplication rather than addition, so that landing multiple molecules (balls) in multiple dishes that have not been inoculated creates the possibility of large scoring jump. Playing Petri most effectively therefore requires not only placing your molecules accurately in order to either infect or inoculate, but also planning ahead in order to maximize your score.

Taking turns selecting their molecules to start the rounds, for this matchup between advertising agency Rethink (in sporty whites) and Theatre Replacement (in jaunty yellow headbands), each team stayed with their choice of balls — golf or ball-hockey — throughout the game. We only had time to complete four rounds, with Theatre Replacement coming out on top.

10:40 — Roadhouse vs Double Rainbow

Pool y. Game played: Extra-Sensory Proprioception

The first matchup in Pool y saw game studio Roadhouse Interactive, in collegiate grey T-shirts, playing the neon-clad Double Rainbow Dodgeball League.

Proprioception is the knowledge of where one’s body is in space, and the game of Extra-Sensory Proprioception requires one to use all one’s non-visual senses to navigate through space. Blindfolded pairs from each team start on different sides of the field, a whistle is blown from somewhere in the field, and each person walks blindfolded to try to place a marker as close as possible to that place. Only the marker for each pair was recorded, so there were possible strategies for minimizing errors. Blindfolded players were allowed to communicate with each other, and we saw some pairs use that to triangulate and get close to each other, while others used it to maintain a distance, thereby averaging out possible errors. Other pairs did not communicate verbally but relied on their own senses.

Double Rainbow proved themselves to be masters of this quiet activity just as much as the boisterous one they are known for.

11:20 — Manhunt! vs Rethink

Pool x. Game played: Field Pong

The game drawn for the match between urban sports group Manhunt! and Rethink was another one hatched at a previous League event, but not fully tested. As is typical with League, it required a bit of rule adjustment and negotiation.

The basic objective is for some of one’s team to collect cones from the other team’s end line, while others defend their zone from opposing runners. Defenders must hold a stick with another teammate in order to defend, and can deflect opposing runners back to their end line by touching them. Runners may only advance forward or laterally and must return to their end line if they are touched by the stick-holders.

This game is very demanding of the runners, and several different strategies were tested over the course of the match. Rethink successfully made a sudden switch from defense to full-on offense, and at one point both teams attempted full-defense setups with only one runner. Consensus was that this game could do with a bit more clarity in order for the best strategies to emerge.

Rethink began to show their strength in agile field-based games, and finished with the win.

12:00 — Daughters of Beer vs Roadhouse

Negotiating tiebreaker round for Petri

Pool y. Game played: Petri

Again Petri was the game drawn, and because neither craft beer aficionados Daughters of Beer & Co. (wearing race bibs and lanyards) nor Roadhouse had played it already, we proceeded. This Petri match featured some effective placement of molecules and inoculations, and saw Roadhouse come from behind to tie the game in the final round. Not having invented a tiebreaking mechanism in advance, we had to decide on one, and settled on a three-ball sudden death round, which Roadhouse won.

12:40 — Theatre Replacement vs Manhunt!

Pool x. Game played: Scrumble

For the final match in the x pool round-robin, the game drawn was Scrumble, a game hatched by League for The n Games. Teams Theatre Replacement and Manhunt were each issued a set of pinnies with single letters on the front and back, and given 30 minutes to photograph themselves and recruited bystanders wearing the pinnies to spell out words visible within the photos. A point was awarded for each letter of each word, with double points given for the most inventive picture of the bunch, as decided by judges recruited from the bystanders.

The words produced by the two teams were quite different, and ranged from simple nouns to actions to a few abstractions, and even a conjunction. Manhunt’s score was tallied first, an impressive 119 points, then Theatre Replacement’s, then the judges deliberated over the most inventive picture, considering Theatre Replacement’s use of a player standing on her head to turn an M into a W, but finally declaring that team’s ‘TEAHOUSE’ picture the most inventive. The doubled points for that word brought TR to 117 — a very close score for two quite different approaches.

13:20 — Double Rainbow vs Daughters of Beer

Pool y. Game played: Satellites

Satellites, the final game drawn for Pool y play was one one might have expected Double Rainbow’s dodgeball skills to carry easily. It was one that started by posing a strategic decision about whether to use a more deliberate turn-by-turn approach or a continuous play option for the game, the overall goal of which was to propel a large ball over the opposite end line by throwing or kicking smaller balls at it.

For the first half of the game, Double Rainbow chose the turn-by-turn option, but neither team was able to advance the large ball very far with their three throws per turn. For the second half, Daughters of Beer chose the continuous play option, and the game play turned raucous. The Daughters quickly developed an effective strategy of using some players as primary throwers and others as feeders, and they scored three times to the Rainbows’ one.


With pool play done, all six teams remarkably finished with one win and one loss, so tiebreakers were required to break the three-way ties in both pools.

For Pool x, Manhunt did not have enough players to continue, so they defaulted the playoffs. We decided that we would fall back on the head-to-head matchup between the remaining pool teams, which put Theatre Replacement in first place and Rethink in second for Pool x.

To break the tie in Pool y, we played a three-way sudden-death round of Extra-Sensory Proprioception. Continuing their dominance of the earlier game, it was no surprise to see Double Rainbow finish first, with Roadhouse second and Daughters of Beer third.

The first and second-place finishers in each pool then played a team in the opposite pool to determine who would advance to the final.

14:20 Semi-final Theatre Replacement vs Roadhouse

Whoseball rules

Pool x 1st place vs Pool y 2nd place. Game played: Whoseball

The League principle of having teams contribute to making decisions about the character of the game had already appeared in earlier matchups, and played a big part in the semi-final match between Theatre Replacement and Roadhouse. Whoseball is a game based on soccer/football, except that for each half, each team is asked to introduce or modify one of the accepted rules of soccer, while remaining within the spirit of the original game. One can imagine the gamut of possibilities.

For the first half, Roadhouse decreed that one had to be stationary while playing the ball, while Theatre Replacement specified that players had to be holding hands with someone else in order make a play. Perhaps unexpectedly, this arrangement worked, even more unexpectedly prompting players from opposite teams to link up in order to mark each other.

For the second half, Roadhouse decided that all passing had to be done laterally or backwards, though carrying and shooting could be done forwards. Theatre Replacement came up with a rule that brilliantly solved the problem of diving in soccer, by requiring that after making their play on the ball, every player had to roll three times on thee ground. Introducing this disincentive to the play effectively produced a more efficient — not to mention hilarious — style of game play. Roadhouse again pulled off a late-game comeback to move on to the final.

14:40 Semi-final Double Rainbow vs Rethink

Pool y 1st place vs Pool x 2nd place. Game played: No Look Pass

The game played in the second semi-final appeared well suited to both Double Rainbow’s agility and Rethink’s preference for swarming strategies. No Look Pass is a sport in which teams alternate playing offense and defense. Offensively, they attempt to bring balls to the other team’s end line, without being tagged by the defensive team. The balls are carried and passed behind the back, so there are possibilities for deception and synchronized movements.

In the spirit of League, we took feedback at half-time about whether any adjustments to the game were required for more rewarding game play, and at that point it was decided to try the longer, narrower orientation of the field.

Rethink particularly excelled at the coordinated formations, often placing multiple balls with a fewer number of carriers, and they advanced to the final.

15:20 Final Rethink vs Roadhouse

Winners of semi-finals. Game played: Lotto Rules

The final game determined which team would claim The n Games Cup, a thrift-store sports trophy mashed up with 3D-printed elements, devised by Brendan Lee Satish Tang and Suzanne Ward. Fittingly, the final game was a game-invention game: Lotto Rules. From a stack of cards printed with words, four cards were drawn, and these words had to figure into the rules for a game that each team would design.

The words drawn were: HIT, DIVIDE, BOUNCE, and KEEP. Following a seven-minute design process, the teams introduced their games, and then played both.

Roadhouse’s entry was a game entitled ‘Siege,’ in which each team attempted to defend their KEEP by catching a ball HIT into it by the other team, before it BOUNCEd a second time. The penalty for missing a catch was that one’s keep would be DIVIDEd until it was no longer playable.

Rethink’s game described a sequence of actions that unfolded over the length of the field a number of times over a set period: HIT a large ball with a stick, BOUNCE it once from where it lay, take five large steps while KEEPing it in one’s grasp, and finally DIVIDE a set of vuvulezas (Rethink’s contribution to maintaining the sports atmosphere throughout the day) for a point.

With both games play-tested and minor adjustments made along the way, a group of judges recruited from the other teams conferred to decide which invented game was the better game. With their opinion that Siege had somewhat more potential for fulfilling play, Roadhouse Interactive was declared the winner of this inaugural n Games.

Thank you; come again!

League would like to thank all the teams and players for their enthusiastic and creative approaches to the challenges. As with all League events, it was active participants who truly made a rewarding day.

Upcoming League events

On Tuesday 24 September League hosts “How To Kickstart“, a workshop by Kickstarter art director Stephanie Pereira, featuring some projects successfully produced through that crowd-funding platform. This free event is sold out, but check the ticket page in the days preceding the event, as we will move it outside for greater capacity if the weather will be nice.

The next regular League play date is Sunday 29 September, starting at 1 pm in Elm Park. League play events are free and open to all; bring both body and mind.


The n Games tournament schedule & results

Go to event page | Read event report


10:00 — Pool x Match 1
Rethink vs Theatre Replacement
Game played: Petri   Winner: Theatre Replacement

10:40 — Pool y Match 1
Roadhouse vs Double Rainbow
Game played: Extra Sensory Proprioception   Winner: Double Rainbow

11:20 — Pool x Match 2
Manhunt! vs Rethink
Game played: Field Pong   Winner: Rethink

12:00 — Pool y Match 2
Daughters of Beer vs Roadhouse

Game played: Petri   Winner: Roadhouse

12:40 — Pool x Match 3
Theatre Replacement vs Manhunt!
Game played: Scrumble   Winner: Manhunt!

13:20 — Pool y Match 3
Double Rainbow vs Daughters of Beer
Game played: Satellites   Winner: Daughters of Beer

Pool x: Manhunt defaults, Theatre Replacement won head-to-head vs Rethink
Pool y: Sudden Death Extra Sensory Proprioception. Results: 1-Double Rainbow, 2-Roadhouse, 3-Daughters of Beer

14:20 — Semi 1 (x 1st place vs y 2nd place)
Theatre Replacement vs Roadhouse
Game played: Whoseball   Winner: Roadhouse

15:00 — Semi 2 (y 1st place vs x 2nd place)
Double Rainbow vs Rethink
Game played: No Look Pass   Winner: Rethink

Consolation (y 3rd place vs x 3rd place)
(not played)

15:40 — Final (winners of Semis)
Rethink vs Roadhouse
Game played: Lotto Rules   Winner: Roadhouse


Pool x

Manhunt! Vancouver


Theatre Replacement






Admins only: update


Upcoming play — 24-25 August — Sportsapalooza

Several upcoming League events…

24-25 August:  Sportsapalooza

Saturday 24 August, 1-5 pm:  League is participating in the Brockton Sportsapalooza component of the city’s Celebrate! Stanley Park weekend. The sports fields at Brockton Oval in Stanley Park will host an extravaganza of local games and sports groups. League will represent with a couple of our evolving games.

Sunday 25 August, 12-3 pm:  The sports weekend continues at our usual Elm Park location. We will be field-testing and adjusting some of the games that might be played at the upcoming League-organized tournament of invented sports, The n Games.

Upcoming at League

Sunday 8 September:  The n Games
League hosts an innovative tournament for teams of varied backgrounds, testing their teamwork, strategic skills and adaptability by playing League-type invented sports. Spectators are welcome.

Tuesday 24 September:  How To Kickstart workshop
Free but limited admission — get your ticket here beginning 26 August
Recently expanded to Canada, Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. Join Kickstarter Art Program Director Stephanie Pereira for a primer on how to bring a Kickstarter project to life.

Late September:  Bean Race 2013 finish
Bean Race has been a slow race to new heights, ongoing in the field house yard since springtime. It’s almost time for a feast to celebrate the winning beans.

Sunday 29 September: League play day



League report – The Arbutus Corridor

by Jay White

The late-July version of League was a little different than the other ones I’ve attended. Usually we invent games at Elm Park in Kerrisdale, but this time we walked the eleven-kilometre Canadian Pacific Railway right-of-way known as ‘The Arbutus Corridor.’ Germaine encouraged us to come up with our own way to walk the line. In one respect, this focused us on our own individual means of play, but for the most part, the day was a long and pleasant get-to-know-you session. I felt like I was a teenager again, with nothing to do on a hot summer’s day but wander and laugh with friends.

In the early years of the colonization of Canada’s West Coast, the Canadian Government granted the CPR a surprisingly large amount of land in Vancouver. As of 1886, the CPR had legal title to the area between Mackenzie Street in Kitsilano and Main Street, and between False Creek and 57th Avenue. They also had title to almost half of what is now the downtown core of Vancouver.

Land granted to the CPR by the Canadian Government
in 1886, and the Arbutus Corridor.

Most of that land has been sold off, but the 45-acre Arbutus Corridor that winds through the city remains as a reminder of this bygone era. This fifty- to sixty-foot wide strip is now caught in a no-man’s land of legislation between the City of Vancouver and the CPR. It’s still owned by the CPR, but it can’t be commercially developed, and can only be used as a rail, walking, or cycling corridor. A lack of dedicated use has transformed the corridor into a unique part of Vancouver’s landscape. The route is interspersed with community gardens, renegade vegetable patches, walking trails, cattails and blackberry brambles. Trees shade the majority of the route, and the rail tracks are still there to balance along. Except for street crossings, the entirety of the corridor feels far removed from the pace and the development of the rest of the city.

I didn’t know what I would encounter when walking this route, so I decided to let the railway speak for itself. Every once in a while, I’d pick up an object from the ground, scratch it along the metal rail, and do my best to transcribe the sound it made back onto the track.

An untranslatable conversation between the rail and a stone

Germaine’s means of walking the line was to take a glass of seawater from False Creek, and carry it (without spilling too much water) for the whole length of the line, and deposit the water at its southern terminus at the Fraser River.

Sarah found nine pages of a discarded book in the first few minutes of walk, and made it her goal to finish reading them before the day finished. Thankfully, it was a decent book. She surmised that ‘something dramatic happened’ earlier in the story, but the nine pages maddeningly skirted the actual event without saying what it was.

Ian was raised in this area of Vancouver, and was a treasure-trove of information about the railway. Glenda, a city planner living in Whitehorse, Yukon, shared her own experiences with land allocation and transportation planning.

When I look at them separately, I don’t suppose that any of our mini-projects or stories were of any consequence. But I think something significant happened on the walk, as it does on every League day I have attended. A diversity of people, many who have never met before, get together and enjoy each others’ company for an afternoon. For me, this is the important thing about League — we are devoting time to the dying art of informal play, and we are remembering the joy of doing nothing in particular – making rules and games not as a means to win, but as a means to enjoy spending time together.

At the Fraser River, Germaine dumped her glass of False Creek water in the river. Mission accomplished. We quietly dispersed for a few minutes along the bank of the river, kicking at stones and examining the detritus that the river had left on this muddy shoreline. The sun was starting to fall in the West. Tired, hungry and sunburnt, we hopped on a bus and headed back to our respective lives.


[i] Source: A Railway, a City, and the Public Regulation of Private Property: CPR v City of Vancouver by Douglas C Harris. http://www.law.ualberta.ca/plpr/2011/Harris_Constructive_Taking_2011.pdf