I am immediately intrigued. Human Video Games? My mind conjures up little stick figures being chased through a maze by giant Cheezles with teeth! Mmmmn…Cheezles…anywayyy, as soon as the event kicks off at 1pm on a scorchingly hot day at Te Papa, I find an excuse to meander down to the Human Video Games event, stand in the blazing hot sun, and take pictures of random kids lobbing tennis balls at tin cans for the blog.
My job so rocks sometimes!
The event has been dreamed up by Te Arikirangi Mamaku, Events Producer, and Charlette Potts and the Discovery Centre Team.
I give much respect to the Event Producers and Discovery Centre hosts of Te Papa for the thoroughly enjoyable and often quirky events and activities that they produce on a shoestring budget. They do an amazing job to attract people from all over the world to their events, and over the years, I’ve seen some fantastic gigs at my workplace. Lucky me!
But back to the event. The premise for Human Video Games is simple. Inspired by the Game Masters exhibit currently showing at Te Papa, Human Video Games borrows the themes and gameplay from popular games such as Angry Birds, and translates them into a real-world setting.
Charlette informs me that they’re not allowed to use the names of, or associate the event with the original games, due to trademark-y legalese reasons. Despite the restriction, people are still intrigued enough to give the games a good go, and Charlette and her team have set the event up so well, nobody notices the omission.
All this fuss about trademark considerations reminds me that the name of one of the world’s most popular and beloved games (which is also an inspiration for one of the activities) has a surprisingly earthy origin. The story goes that the original name for this game was Puck Man; but it was soon changed to the famous Pac-Man to avoid language malfunctions. True story.
Today, there’s not a pc, console, or arcade machine in sight at Human Video Games, just uncoordinated, self-conscious adults being thoroughly trounced by kids as they fling tennis balls at towers constructed from cans.
I get sucked into the madness, as does Charlette, and we attempt to knock down a few cans. Sounds easier than it is, and twenty or so throws later, the novelty has well and truly lost its allure. I no longer have the precision, the coordination, or the energy of my youth, and all I get for my efforts are shoulder cramps and a sweaty, red face. It’s so difficult to look your best basking in radioactive-level sunlight! Then there’s the kid next to me, blithely announcing to everyone that he can “do this all day,” and he proceeds to do exactly that, loosening a volley of shots that unerringly finds its mark every time, worthy of an Olympic archery champion. “I hear they’re giving away special Minecraft codes up in Game Masters today,” I lie, and the kid takes off like a rocket. Despite the skilful removal of my competition, I find I still suck at throwing tennis balls.
The maze has been painstakingly created with gaffer tape – roughly 260 metres of the stuff.
The hot sun broils the glue on the tape, and corners of the maze curl toward the sky. The staff are “keeping a close eye on it,” Charlette says. Oh yes, I can see that.
Destinee Robinson soon puts the maze to work, displaying far more pep than I can muster in this heat. I’m panting more than she is just watching her run. “Whew – that was hard work!” I say, wiping my sweaty brow in the shade as Destinee hits the home stretch. I politely decline an invitation to “give it a go.” “Sorry, I need to save all of my energy for taking photographs for the blog – important work and all that.” My response elicits great amusement amongst the staff, but why, I have no idea.
Hmmn, this could start a revolution. Games where you get off the couch! Games where you must interact with real, live people! Games where you might collect a few bruises – just like the games I played as a kid, minus the bullying older brothers: the crying, whimpering, and begging for mercy…
The next Human Video Games event is on in a couple of weeks. Come along!
26-27 January, 2013,
Te Papa Tongarewa Museum.