Pop Up Playground were Australia’s leading designers of live games, immersive play and digitally supported street sports. We made games for the City of Melbourne, Bell Shakespeare, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the State Library of Victoria. Pop Up Playground also forged many international links, including running two separate international games festivals in Melbourne, and presenting games overseas, including in Copenhagen and New York.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Pop Up Playground still a thing?
No. Pop Up Playground ceased making and putting on work in 2018. Watch out for a documentary about our eight years of play; it’s in post-production.
Will you make a game for us?
Though Pop Up Playground is no longer running as an organisation, one of our former crew might still be able to help you! Games Mechanic Ben McKenzie in particular is still looking for game design commissions, but Sayraphim or Robert may also be able to help you depending on what you’re looking to do.
See the Contact page if you want to get in touch with Ben, Sayraphim or Robert.
The following questions are not current, but give you an idea of Pop Up Playground’s philosophy and practice from when it was running.
What is it that Pop Up Playground actually does?
The Shortest answer possible is that Pop Up Playground makes games.
A slightly longer and more accurate answer would be
We make games.
We make playful experiences.
We tell stories with people.
Can you expand on that in complex jargon?
As it so happens, I can.
Pop Up Playground makes immersive reactive situations.
It does this in a variety of ways including
• Constructed social situations
• Collective story telling
• Competitive and goal driven play
In essence our work is fundamentally participatory.
We make experiential simulations at varying levels of abstraction.
We use games systems and structures to create shaped experiences.
Sure, and now some idea what that means?
Our work might be anything from simulated story telling events in which actors perform key narrative scenes with the player, to rules based strategy simulations in which players become pieces on the giant boards.
And lots of things in between.
Do you make videogames?
No, though our games might sometimes use computers, smartphones or other electronic doodads.
Do you make tabletop games – board games, card games or roleplaying games and so on?
No, though we might use cards to represent things in our games, mark out a playing area on the floor or ground, or ask players to take on a role (though usually only a very simple one).
So what kind of games do you make?
We make games in which people interact with each other in a more direct, though still abstracted, way than in other forms of games. They may be played indoors or outdoors, with a small or large number of players, and with no props or elaborate constructions. The thing they have in common is that they are playful and easy to learn and understand. These kinds of games are commonly called pervasive games, street games, urban games, location-based games or many other names.
So what can these games be used for?
Our games can facilitate engagement and build relationships with:
- Narratives and histories,
- Creative and constructive skills
- space and place
Our games can be used to train specific skills, such as:
- Creative problem solving
- Social integration skills
- Leadership skills
- Team work
Our games also contribute to
- Improved social skills
- Improved cognitive development
- Improved physical health
- Increased mental stimulation
- Increased resistance to depression
And why do you do all this?
When we play, we learn
When we play, we meet other people
When we play, we build important social networks
When we play, we relax
When we play, we get better
It’s good to play
Plus for money, we also do it for money.