When the awesome project Tiny Games came to my attention, I immediately became an enthusiastic backer. Just recently, the iOS versions went out, and I eagerly opened this gift from my (more well-to-do) former self.
If you haven’t heard about the project, Tiny Games is not a game for your phone, but a list of games to play in real life. The app suggests IRL games based on where you are and what’s around you. It sometimes asks silly little questions just to gauge what mood you’re in, or what kind of person you are.
I’ve been trying to play as many Tiny Games as I can on my own, but it it’s difficult to make work for me. For instance, Tiny Games includes a whole set of games to be played on the road. I have a 1-hour commute to the Indie City Coop, so it seems like an ideal situation at first blush. Two things conspire against me. 1) The mood of a commute is not often a playful one, and trying to force oneself into a playful frame of mind is difficult and unrewarding (as my QA friends know). 2) The games for one player are whimsical, but hard to find satisfying because they’re so vague. Having vague rules for a multiplayer game can be a strength, because they create debate and house-rules and adjudication. It’s not as much fun for one – perhaps a hint as to why solitaire is still the most popular 1-player game.
Determined to play more Tiny Games, I asked my friends Brice Puls and Miles Aurbeck to come play with me in the park. This was awesome, and clearly the spirit in which these games were meant to be played. The games were mostly coop, and those that weren’t lent themselves to an amiable atmosphere. We never kept score, and a good time was had by all.
Inspired, I made an attempt at a tiny game of my own. I wanted to make something that can be played in public with no equipment whatsoever. I call it bump5shake.
The rules of bump5shake are simple. Two or more people stand at the bottom of a staircase in a well-trafficked public area. Each of the players is trying to get to the top of the stairs before the others. However, the only way to move up the stairs is to make physical contact with strangers.
- A fist bump from a stranger allows a player to move up one stair.
- A high-five moves them up two stairs.
- A handshake moves them up three stairs.
Players must move after each bump, 5, or shake (no ‘storing up’ moves to use later). They have to stay on their stair for the duration of the game, and the CANNOT SPEAK. That’s all you need to know to play the game.
I made a video of some playtesting. I hope you enjoy it.
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Thanks to Brice, Miles, and the Art Institute of Chicago, whose stairs we used.