The full story

30 09 2008




Article from The Associated Press

11 06 2008

NYC festival reminds grown-ups how to play

By SAMANTHA GROSS
The Associated Press
Sunday, June 8, 2008; 2:24 PM

NEW YORK — Running down a busy Manhattan sidewalk, drawing funny looks from passers-by as his teammates wearing green T-shirts and feather headdresses brought up the rear in their quest for more water balloons, David Abrams felt entirely unlike himself.

“I feel about 12,” the 30-year-old corporate lawyer said with a laugh as the game clock ticked down and he dashed for a chance to earn his team a few more points.

This weekend, Abrams and hundreds of other participants in the Come Out and Play street games festival gave their grown-up selves permission to engage in child’s play.

From Friday through Sunday, the festival turned the city’s streets into a game board of sorts, as people played mini golf on the sidewalks of the Lower East Side and launched a game similar to manhunt amid the crowds in a city park.

Some players descended into the city’s subways for a game in which teams fought to “capture” the most train cars over the course of a ride. For another game, teams ran around Manhattan staging and photographing scenes from classic movies; years after “When Harry Met Sally,” Katz’s Delicatessen was once again the setting for multiple fake orgasms.

“New Yorkers are so insulated, and it’s really awesome to have a game that brings people together who would never otherwise talk to each other,” Lela Scott Macneil, one of Abrams’ teammates, said as she filled water balloons in a public fountain in preparation for their game’s final, drenching battle.

Besides, the 23-year-old said, the festival was a sort of therapy for her quarter-life crisis.
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“We’re forced to join the adult world and we’re not really sure we want to,” she said of her group of friends, all summoned by a mass e-mail to join in the games. “We want to remember that we have lots of life left and it’s not all just 9-to-5 jobs.”

Festival co-founder Nick Fortugno designs online games for a living, but he says the real-life event’s community-building fills in a gap created by the digital gaming world.

“People don’t want to simply have a digital experience with each other,” he said. The festival draws an eclectic bunch of strangers, he said, from the event’s primary audience of “hipsters and nerds,” to families, academics and high-school students. All the games “reclaim public space,” he said.

When the festival launched in 2006, it was largely a showcase for giant, street-scale versions of classic games like Pac-man and Checkers. But now, Fortugno said, the games have evolved into efforts that interact more fully with the urban environment and incorporate new technology.

In the “Fort Amsterdam” game played by Abrams and Macneil, players use GPS-enabled cell phones as they take on the roles of the 17th-century British, Dutch and Native Americans who once occupied New Amsterdam.

The three teams run around the land that was once the Dutch colony, earning points toward extra water balloons by finding GPS-tagged spots and answering historical trivia questions. Meanwhile, their teammates stock up on balloon ammunition and use masking tape and cardboard boxes to build barricades.

Abrams’ team lost Saturday’s knockdown fight with Super Soakers in Battery Park, but he emerged a hero. Soggy and smiling, he recounted how he acted as a human shield for a 9-year-old teammate, taking the brunt of a drenching volley while she sneaked in and grabbed a valuable flag. The move helped them win a prize: a block of Dutch cheese.

“I don’t think anybody in my firm would expect me to be doing this on the weekend,” he said with a grin





Fort Amsterdam on YouTube

14 05 2008

The Fort Amsterdam trailer can now be watched on YouTube and was also shown at the Where Fair at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco.





Fort Amsterdam now announced on the Come Out & Play website

12 05 2008

check out: http://www.comeoutandplay.org/2008_fortamsterdam.php