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Pozible Rewards: Bespoke Street Adventure!

“We made it to our first location, where did we need to go next? Were we being followed? We better sneak down between these two buildings. I looked over my shoulder.. It seemed the coast was clear but we had to solve the next clue. Time to pick up the pace. I looked at my watch. Damn, we’re running out of time. Is that person watching us? Wait, I know where we need to go next. We ran down an alley, scanning the signs. This seems like the place. Treasure recovered. Cocktail time.”

jadeMonkeyThat’s how Alex describes the Adventure of the Jade Monkey, a custom street adventure made for her and her partner Elliot by Pop Up Playground’s Robert Reid and Sayraphim Lothian – and with the Bespoke Street Adventure reward in our Fresh Air 2015 Pozible campaign, you could have a unique experience like this of your own!

Designing mostly for festivals and open to the public events, Pop Up Playground usually works within certain constraints of size, budget and resources-to-players ratios. But this reward lets us throw a lot of those constraints out the window to make something entirely different: a once-only, unique adventure for a small group!

DrMonkeyWe’ll get in touch with you to figure out a time and place where you want to start, and perhaps go back and forth with a few requests for information, but then it’s down the rabbit hole you go. It’s up to you who you invite, and whether you tell them what they’re in for: a unique adventure experience, just for you, in which you will have to find clues, solve puzzles and complete challenges to reach your destination. You might end up on the run from spies, chasing a monster, searching for a stolen artefact or unlocking a bizarre mystery – but whatever the case, you and up to seven of your friends will be the only ones to ever go on this particular adventure.

We’d love the chance to make something like this – and by choosing this reward you’re not just embarking on the adventure of a lifetime, you’re also supporting the growth of the Fresh Air festival. Your support will allow us to bring out international artists, pay our staff and make our games bigger and better, all while keeping the festival free to attend. You can find out more at our Pozible campaign page.

Pozible Rewards: learning games

We run a lot of live games at Pop Up Playground, but actually we love all kinds of games: board games, videogames, card games, parlour games…you name it, we play it! Within the team we have a pretty great collection of different games, because just as with other artforms it’s important to experience the work of others as well as to make your own.

CalledYouHereBut we don’t often get a lot of time to play those games – which is partly why we’ve created the Learn to Play reward! For $50 you not only get the PDF book of games and a copy of our first StickerGame, but also an invitation to a fun, relaxed three-hour session of games with the Pop Up Players. We’ll bring a bunch of games of all kinds and teach you to play them! This is a friendly event for everyone, regardless of your level of experience with board games, and we’ll be bringing games of varying lengths, complexities and themes – as well as teaching you a few of our own!

But perhaps you already play a lot of games, and you’re keen to take the next step and make your own games? Well, we’ve got you covered there too, with the $100 Games Design Workshop reward! Ben will run you through the basics of game design with a three hour workshop whose basic principles will work across most kinds of games. The workshop draws on Ben’s three years of experience designing for Pop Up Playground and independently, and will cover player experience, mechanics, playtesting and more. Plus you also get the book of games, the StickerGame, and there will be cake!

By selecting one of these rewards you’ll not only learn to play or make games, you’ll be supporting the Fresh Air festival for 2015, enabling it to grow and to support the people who make it. You can find out more at our campaign page on Pozible.

Pozible Rewards: Workplace Games Workshop

Most of the games we run at Pop Up Playground are for the public: they’re fun, they’re silly, they’re designed to reconnect you with the playful side of yourself you were told to put away when you were no longer a child. But you can also play some of our games at work!

Games can combine an exercise in imagination with the interpersonal and analytical skills you use every day in the business world: teamwork, communication, problem solving, leadership, confidence, risk management. They won’t magically level you up overnight, but the systems used in games present a new context in which to exercise those skills – plus it’s a lot of fun!

Pudding Lane

Pudding Lane

Pop Up Playground has a variety of corporate workshops – and as a special corporate support level in our Pozible campaign, we’re offering the two-hour version at a discounted rate! Our game runners will come to your workplace, warm everyone up with a few smaller games, then put your team through their paces with games tailored to promote team building and business-applicable skills, all while having a good time your staff will be talking about for weeks! And as if that’s not enough, you’ll also be named as a corporate sponsor of the Fresh Air Festival for 2015.

While our corporate workshops are available all year round, this special discount rate of $1,500 for the two-hour version is only available as part of our Pozible campaign, so if you’ve thought about doing something different for your staff, get in now! We’ll negotiate a time with you to make it happen. And if you have any questions you want to ask, just get in touch.

Pozible Rewards: Wanna Play a Game?

We love to run our games for people, but outside of festivals it can be hard to organise a time and find people to play them! Likewise, people love to play our games, but the opportunities to play them aren’t as frequent as we’d like. And that’s where the $250 “Wanna Play a Game?” reward in our Pozible campaign comes in!


Members of the public playing Gong! at Fresh Air 2014.

We’ll come to you and run one of our stand-alone games (plus a few little ones to get you warmed up) for as many as 20 players, over the course of about an hour! This would be a great addition to a birthday, wedding or other celebration, or even just a great diversion for a bunch of friends for an afternoon. Here are some of the games you can choose:

The Ride – an epic battle between two Viking villages; can you achieve sufficient glory to be taken to Valhalla?

Gong! – a street sport where you get to change the rules!

Bury Your Treasure – thievery and combat on the high seas – can you steal and hoard the most booty?

Ben’s Big Board Game – roll the dice or test your skill to move

Pudding Lane – London is burning! Can you work together to put out the fires before all is lost?

Wikisneaks – devise a secret code and transmit information without getting caught in this game about unlocking secrets!

Spy Catcher – the Agency has been infiltrated at the highest level! Only the junior spies can be trusted to interrogate the spy leaders and expose the double agents before it’s too late!

This is a special price for this kind of service just for this campaign, so if you want to add some Pop Up Playground magic to your next party or big event, get in before the campaign ends, and help spread the word so we hit our goal! All the details are can be found at

Spirits Walk, the headline game of Fresh Air 2014

Ben McKenzie, our Games Mechanic, talks about a work commissioned for Fresh Air in 2014: Serious Business’ Spirits Walk.

It’s pretty rare at Pop Up Playground that I get to play a game I’ve had almost nothing to do with, but last year that was exactly what I got to do with Spirits Walk, the headline game of the festival – and what a game it was.

Commissioned by our Artistic Director Robert Reid from UK designers Serious Business (Grant Howitt and Mary Hamilton), who luckily for our budget happened to be living in Sydney at the time, it was the centrepiece of last year’s festival, taking players not across Federation Square but into the heart of Melbourne. Here’s the video trailer, filmed by Elliott Summers during the festival:

sw1So: players are invited by the Tattered Prince, head of the court of Melbourne’s spirits and gods, to join in the Spirits Walk, a celebration of the spirit world. But you can’t just rock up to something like that unprepared, you must have a mask – and not just any mask, a mask made of spirit stuff. So the Prince has weakened the walls between our world and his for an hour, and given us instructions on how to find various little gods of Melbourne. If we can satisfy them, they will grant us tokens of the spirit world we can bind into a mask so we can join in the Spirits Walk!sw2

What that translated to was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I scurried about the city, following the map in my guide to the spirit world, looking for the gods and enacting the prescribed rituals needed to summon them. I was asked to trade a worthless piece of paper for “something of value” with strangers, to give up a secret of my own to a snappily dressed spirit under a bridge, to dance intimately with a partner under the gaze of the public to music no-one else could hear, to fight invisible monsters to protect ordinary people just trying to cross a bridge, and more.

sw3All of these activities were transgressive and touched on things we’re told not to do: wave (cardboard) swords around in public (don’t worry, it was slow and safe), ask people you’ve never met to give you something, ignore the approving or disapproving looks of strangers as you dance in front of them… Each on its own was magical, but to dash about the city seeking out as many of them as possible in a limited time made it exactly the sort of transformative experience you see in stories of urban fantasy and (to borrow Grant’s own term) junk magic.

When I say transformative, I don’t just mean of the player, but of the city. One of the great experiences of games like this is that you don’t look at the space in which you play them the same way. Degraves Street isn’t just a collection of cafés for me anymore – it’s where I danced to please the Skipping Girl, a spirit who just wanted me to be free and embrace the music; Hosier Lane isn’t just “that one with the amazing graffiti”, it’s where I gave up my favourite hat to a spirit without knowing when or how exactly I would get it back. These are magical stories and experiences that are layered on my city, crafted with great care and style by Grant and Mary and executed by the amazing cast in their incredible masks.

Spirits Walk is another example of a game that just isn’t possible without the infrastructure of a festival. Robert Reid and the Fresh Air team took Grant and Mary’s design and hired actors, commissioned masks and costumes and props, scouted locations and scheduled rehearsals. I often joke about one of our early works, The Curse, that it requires more actors than players, but some of the greatest experiences need this kind of scaffolding. The players still make the stories themselves, but they are guided by creatures of our making, played by actors and mediated through craft. There’s nothing quite like it, and it’s for pieces like this that we make Fresh Air.

All the more amazing, then, that we did it on the shoestring budget of last year – and that it was free to experience! I really hope Grant and Mary mount it again, because every city deserves a little junk magic.

To keep making things like this, especially in collaboration with international designers, we need to increase the Fresh Air budget – and that’s where our Pozible campaign comes in. Please check it out and pledge if you can – there are some amazing rewards on offer! But it’s just as vital to our success for you to help spread the word.


Spirits Walk photos by Sarah Walker

Little Monsters’ Big Day Out returning for 2015

Hello! Ben here, Pop Up Playground’s friendly local Game Mechanic (that more or less means head game designer). This week on social media we’ve been describing some of the games that we’ve played at previous Fresh Air festivals, or which will be featured at Fresh Air 2015. Today I want to talk about a game which is both, one of the big hits of the 2014 festival that we’ll be bringing back next year: Little Monsters’ Big Day Out. (Considering I am going to refer to it a lot, I’m gonna abbreviate that to LMBDO, mostly because I can choose to pronounce it “lambdo”, though usually we just call it “Little Monsters” for short.)

A monster from Little Monsters' Big Day Out

A collaboration between Pop Up Playground’s Sayraphim Lothian and Serious Business’ Grant Howitt, LMBDO is honestly one of the best games I’ve had the pleasure of running or playing. It packs a huge amount of adventure into a simple setup: pairs of players tie on monster tails and run all over Federation Square taking photos of their cute little monster friends, each of whom wants to go on as many adventures as possible in the time limit! What kind of adventures? Well, they tell you via speech balloons, but their desires are kind of vague; it’s up to you to figure it out!

Play is often a great way to get people smiling and having fun, but LMBDO lights up faces and hearts in people of every age like no other game I’ve seen. That’s due in no small part to the amazing tails; one you strap one on it instantly frees you of any inhibitions you might have about being a bit silly in public! Plus the little monsters themselves are so damn cute. (Every time we’ve run it we’ve had multiple people ask if they can buy one of their own.) All of the props were created for Pop Up Playground by incredibly talented Melbourne craft artist Jellibat, some of whose work you can find on Etsy, and they are a huge part of the game’s appeal.

LMBDO is a great example of a little game which feels like a big experience. It’s also the kind of thing it’s not practical to make and sell for people to run themselves, thanks to the importance and number of the props, and so it can only exist thanks to the support we receive here at Pop Up Playground. We want to make and run more games like it, and fill Fresh Air to bursting point with awesome situations – and you can help! We’re raising money to help make Fresh Air 2015 bigger and better than ever, and we’ll be using that money not only to bring out international designers, but to make and run more games like Little Monsters’ Big Day Out. Check out our Pozible campaign and help us out by pledging some money for one of our cool rewards, or even just spreading the word!