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Vancouver Courier: 2013 was the year fitness got fun

Megan Stewart, “2013 was the year fitness got fun,” Vancouver Courier, 24 December 2013.

Running isn’t just for runners anymore. And racing wasn’t something only racers did this year.

In 2013, the stamina sport of barefoot purists, weekend trailblazers, lanky Kenyans and P.E. teachers found legions of new fans thanks to anti-establishment events that put the dance into endurance. Yes, I wrote that.

The emergence of playful 5k runs is an answer to the punishing military-inspired obstacle courses like the half-marathon distance Tough Mudder and the Spartan Race. Only suckers sign up to suffer. (I’ll be doing the Tough Mudder next year.)

Instead of boot camp abuse, repetitive circuits and urban fitness regimes to prepare for barbed wire, 10-foot walls, frozen water and electrocution, the preparation for these gentler, more playful events amounts to little more than lacing up a pair of shoes and showing up with a group of raucous friends, ideally without a hangover.

The softer, light-hearted side of exercise doesn’t mean you can slack off. You still signed up to run; you just expect to keep a smile on your face the whole time.

The most incredible development in Vancouver recreation this year, however, focused on mental exercise as much as physical exertion. Credit to Germaine Koh for founding League, an open organization that emphasizes problem-solving as a form of play.

Koh is an artist who holds a three-year residency at the field house in Elm Park. On the last Sunday of each month, League meets at the Kerrisdale location at noon and everyone is invited to “drop in to exercise your strategic instincts, stretch rules and limits, and workshop ideas for action.”

[Read more at http://www.vancourier.com/2013-was-the-year-fitness-got-fun-1.770179#sthash.ekGkcUQS.dpuf]

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.


Played: The n Games, Nuit Blanche edition

The n Games at Nuit Blanche

This edition of The n Games was conceived for the particular conditions of the larger Nuit Blanche event, a 12-hour overnight contemporary art festival that draws audiences of more than a million to downtown Toronto. The projects in Nuit Blanche tend to be spectacular, crowd-friendly, and built to face rowdy msses that don’t necessarily play by contemporary-art viewing conventions.

With the expected chaotic atmosphere and short engagement time in mind, this version of The n Games was conceived as a rolling pick-up game of invented sports into which a changing group of participants could readily jump: a laboratory for experimental play. Members of existing groups such as the Toronto Roller Derby League and Puckish shinny hockey were on hand to play. To organize these n Games, League collaborated with Department of Biological Flow, an experimental collective interested in the intersection of the political and kinesthetic. (We hope Sean from DBF will also post an event report here.) DBF brought some movement experiments, League brought some of our play-tested games, together we prepared conditions and equipment for some new games, and we agreed to let it all evolve like a League play event.


Based in the courtyard of the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, the games rolled swiftly from one into the next, as players continually came and went. We soon realized that the kind of deliberate negotiation of rules and strategy that is usually a hallmark of League play would have little chance to take hold with an ever-changing and impatient large group. Nor would games with complex rules or strategy work in an intense, frenetic environment in which verbal communication was difficult. We were dealing with crowd rather than group dynamics, and pressure closer to a match than a practice. Rather than strategize, the crowd had a strong will to just play. We adjusted by mustering stripped-down versions of the games we’d prepared or improvising new ones, but still created moments in which the playing group was presented with opportunities to make twists or adjustments to the games. This was how a two-ball soccer game evolved into Human Foosball, and how some random dribbling of a ball turned into Moving Goalposts, then evolved again to have multiple goalposts.

Scrumble players sorting themselves

The courtyard was filled a mixture of people arriving primed for play (a number of whom stayed for hours), those attracted by the action and game to join, and crowds arriving, leaving, gathering, and waiting in line for the museum’s exhibition. Thus the social conventions around museum attendance and large social events were also part of field of play. Many games saw players recruiting bystanders to participate, as in the many instances of Scrumble that broke out as people recognized words they could spell using the Scrumble pinnies. At times the museum lineup extending into the courtyard was drawn into the action, as when the queue was recruited to be the defensive line for a game of Red Rover.

The dynamic setting produced a multitude of interesting social interactions. It was fascinating how absorption in play altered conventions of behaviour. We saw strangers suddenly manhandling each other into position, pulling pinnies onto each other, holding hands to play, tackling each other, and ordering each other around with the particular urgency that game play sometimes demands. It was also interesting to observe how people got drawn into play, and the changes in behaviour when they did. We saw some watching eagerly on the sidelines until they could no longer restrain themselves from joining in. Others waited for the formal offer of a pinny before they joined in, while others seemed to be repelled by the appearance of a uniform.

The permeable margins of play

Play also transformed the space and movement through it. The games organically spread to accommodate players or contracted to allow for communication, while some of the games actually played with the flow and disposition of people in the space, as in the Force Field experiment or Red Rover. In some cases, the play melded with or intersected with the crowd, as in the multiple instances of Scrumble or a game of chain tag. For other games, the ring of gathered spectators organically defined an arena of action. Sometimes the games created a somewhat hostile environment, with an acute difference in the intensity of players and non-players. We were reminded that the energy generated within the ‘safe’ space of play can be threatening to those outside that emotional/physical space, when the normally well-behaved space became filled with flying bodies, projectiles, and shouting, and balls bounced alarmingly against the neighbour’s glass doors.

Unplanned play

Some of the most interesting play was not any particular or directed game, but arose from improvising in the moment. For instance, a deliberate attempt to invent a game using a long length of rope eventually disintegrated into a situation in which the rope was strung between people on opposite sides of the courtyard, in such a way that it caused the people flowing into and out of the museum to duck or climb over, movement that the players responded to by adjusting their positioning as different people approached. This was wordless, physical play between strangers. In another instance, at the end of the night, as we were untangling the rope from a game of Zigzag-o-war, we found ourselves with the rope held at opposite ends of the length of the 100-foot courtyard, and the very last activity emerged as the simple play of jumping rope, in the pouring rain.

Here in no particular order are some of my highlights from the quick succession of games:

Topogical Soccer Lab, Human Foosball, & Moving Goalposts

Human Foosball

Several of Department of Biological Flow’s movement experiments have to do with making simple but fundamental shifts to the known terrain of soccer, which they conceptually unite under the title of “Topological Soccer Lab.” Amongst the possibilities are no-ball, two-ball, and three-team soccer. In practice, at these n Games, a two-ball soccer game transformed elegantly and almost instantly into Human Foosball once that simple idea was inserted into the hive mind of the crowd. It was fascinating to see a number of bystanders puzzling for a few moments, suddenly exclaim “Oh! It’s foosball!”, and race in to grab the nearest stranger’s hand in a foosball line. On a different occasion, and evolving a bit less smoothly, a game of soccer with shifting human goal posts was crafted, and then modified by multiplying the number of goals to try to find a rewarding balance between numbers of players and the challenge of the moving goalposts.

Scrumble & Red Rover

Scrumble faceoff

The Scrumble pinnies, which feature different single letters on front and back, created many sudden irruptions of play, as people noticed the possibilities for text-based play using the pinnies worn by people in the crowd around them. Many undirected versions of life-sized wordplay unfolded over the night, as well as attempts to organize players to use the spelled words to determine game actions, and word-building battles between pinny-clad teams. The confusing physicality of arranging one’s own and other bodies, in the correct order and facing the right way, is a surprising challenge with this play equipment.

With that atmosphere of physicality established, and a feeling that it could be directed in some way, at one point I suggested a modified game of Red Rover that would engage the people in the museum lineup as the defensive line. The people in line were not given a choice: they were simply ordered to play defense, and the game began. Some accepted wholeheartedly, others more tentatively, but many did rise to the challenge in some way, whether working solo or with others in line.

Extra Sensory Proprioception & Octopus

Chain tag

Countering the more intimidating aspects of play as it encounters non-playing masses, there were also moments of impromptu consideration within the frenzy. On a couple occasions, we tried playing the League-tested game Extra Sensory Proprioception, in which blindfolded individuals attempt to navigate as close as they can to a whistle blown once. Although the conditions were not exactly conducive for the use of non-visual senses, it was interesting to observe how the crowd responded to the incongruous and vulnerable blindfolded people making their way through the courtyard. It seemed that an empathetic protective space formed around them as they made their way through the crowd. On another occasion, a game of chain tag or Octopus broke out in the courtyard, which was filled with people who didn’t realize what was going on. The octopus seemeed naturally to avoid people who were not prepared to join the play, but reach out to those who would be game to join. That wordless communication seemed to be what eventually also signalled to the octopus that the game was over.

Pamplemousse With a Catch

A couple participants arrived with an idea for a game of Pamplemousse with an added challenge – throwing and catching a ball at the same time as performing the counting. (Pamplemousse is an existing game in which players take turns counting up, replacing any number containing or divisible by 7 with the word “pamplemousse”.) It was a good mental challenge, but also a surreal instance of two guys arriving to throw down a challenge, see it taken up, and then ride back off into the night.

Force Field

Force Field was one planned experiment that turned out to be well-tuned to the crowd dynamics. Sean started it by arranging the assembled group into a grid spaced at arm’s length, with arms outstretched. On a regular cue, everyone pivoted to alternately face or align with the established pedestrian movement, essentially cutting off or permitting the foot traffic to flow. Different pedestrians responded in a several different ways: advancing and stopping when the path was opened or cut off, hesitating outside the field of action, simply barging through, or joining the arrangement. Over time, the synchrony of the human grid broke down, so that alternate paths appeared. Although I heard questioning from both participants and pedestrians about the point of the exercise, the point actually felt obvious: it was an informal dance of conventions performed by unsuspecting partners.

Zigzag-o-war, Contract, & JuuuuummmmmmpRrrrrrrooope

Unplanned play

Throughout the night, I felt a real distinction between the prepared and unplanned. At one point, I had the idea to try to set up a tug of war with the rope zigzagging between members of the opposing teams. The idea was that each group would need to pull just one person across the line, and assumed that the group could work together to position the zigzag in order to protect its weaker members and use its strongest, essentially maximizing the pulley-like arrangement. Although the energy of the crowd wasn’t really attuned to that kind of strategic calculation, I think it could be worth trying in a different setting, with some opportunity for the teams to strategize. This is one to try at a future League play day.

Another provisional ‘plan’ had been to have some of the group define a spatial arrangement using a 300-foot-long rope, while others decided on an action that would make use of the defined space. When we tried it, although the moveable hourglass-like shape that was created did spark the beginnings of a game resembling pig-in-the-middle, with people moving between the two defined ‘yards’ depending on whether or not they made a successful pass, the organized efforts disintegrated before long. However, attempts to then untangle the long rope produced a provocative situation which saw the rope strung between people, across the width of the courtyard, essentially complicating flow into and out of the museum. Before long, something vaguely similar to the hourglass arrangement was organically re-established by the group as a way of playing with impeding this flow by causing museum visitors to duck under, lift, or step over the rope. The players in this non-game instinctively ‘let up’ in the presence of people with mobility issues, and tightened up when challenged. There was no deliberate organization that caused the change in either the game or the rules of engagement; it was unspoken group decision-making.


A similar recognition of conditions is what was behind the last bit of play. As we were untangling rope along the length of the courtyard at the end of the night, Sean and I caught each other’s eye as we simultaneously recognized the situation: a 100-foot-long jump rope. We started twirling the rope, and all sorts of individuals rushed to jump in. Guys arriving from being drunken louts elsewhere in the city dropped their attitude as they intensely waited to jump in, while strangers confidently and fearlessly called advice to them about improving their jump-rope technique. It was a beautiful, brief phase in which normal social interactions were surrendered to the energy of the moment.

Upcoming League events

League gathers to play on the last Sunday of the month in Elm Park in Vancouver. Play days 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.