Space Invaders: pervasive gaming in Old Trafford


After what has seemed like a veritable drought in terms of Manchester weather, at some point before dawn on Saturday 5th October 2011, the heavens opened. They didn’t close again until Sunday. As luck would have it, this was also the day of Let’s Go Global‘s pervasive gaming event Space Invaders. But try as it might (and believe me, it certainly tried) the rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of those that attended this innovative and entertaining event.

The day was billed as a pervasive gaming for 13-19 year olds and was based Old Trafford’s St John’s Centre. That pervasive gaming should appeal to young people is not in itself surprising, and I certainly found that they took to the games I observed with as much enthusiasm as adults I have worked with in the past. What Space Invaders did, which I found to be truly inspiring, was to enable the collaboration of  Global Youth, Niki Woods & Greg Foster on a pervasive game called Toll Man. Not only is it important for youth groups and young individuals to have significant input into these types of events, but I think it is important for gaming attendees in general to have creative influence. I’ve been knocking about an idea with @alan_hook for a little while now about putting on a Pervasive Game Jam. Space Invaders gave a glimpse into what that might be like.

Hannah Nicklin and Larkin’ About ran Hannah’s game Hibernate! for the event. The game played out twice, in the pouring rain, with large groups of participants who worked in teams to collect food that had been scattered around the centre in order to earn points. It’s a fantastic game that encourages teamwork and inventive communication. If you have a chance to play this in the future, jump at it.

Teams get ready for Hibernate!

Racing back with food during Hibernate!

Matt Smith ran Hide the Guy, in which a player takes the role of Guy Fawkes and must be hidden by other players from two guards. Matt’s game has an interesting mechanic in that players may be questioned by the guards, recieving gold coins for answers that appear to be truthful. Players may lie but if they are discovered, they lose all the gold they have thus far collected. It’s a collecting game neatly wrapped inside a game of hide and seek.

Once the sun had set, I ran 7:Candles:Mcr. You can see how that went here. I like to think of the game as a collecting game in which players create and collect memorable moments for points. Hopefully players feel the same!

Level 2 of 7:Candles:Mcr.


Besides the pervasive gaming, Space Invaders also included DJing and T-Shirt making workshops put on by Unity Radio, both of which appeared to be very popular. The only negative to the day that I found was a lack of activity between some of the games. Although music and refreshments were provided all day, a few low intensity mini-games might have kept up the energy for those waiting for the next game slots to start. However, this is a minor gripe in the face of an overwhelmingly successful event, organised by the amazing individuals of Let’s Go Global. I certainly hope Space Invaders was only the first of many community based pervasive gaming events to come in the future.

Talented DJs provided the sounds for the day.


4 Responses to “Space Invaders: pervasive gaming in Old Trafford”

  1. Vee, thanks for your blog, the positive feedback and for coming on the day – I really enjoyed the 7 Candles:Mcr game too. It was LGG’s second pervasive gaming event set in a community setting and they just keep on getting better – we are always looking at new ways of getting people involved in using technology and having fun and I think Saturday was a good example of that. We also take on your view of having more games to play to keep the momentum going – we will bear this in mind when organizing similar events – which we hope to do in the future – we are also happy to chat through any ideas you might have that we could develop – I know Alan from MA Creative Technology and a Game Jam seems like a great way of getting people engaged – as well as young people we are also looking to develop something with older people too – anyhow you know where we are – thanks so much for you input it was great to have you as part of the day.
    Karen Lets Go Global

    • 2 veeuye

      Hi Karen!

      Yes, Alan has mentioned you. I hadn’t put two & two together until I read your reply. Apologies.

      The idea of a game jam is getting a bit of momentum from various interested parties so I’ll keep you informed if/when anything develops. I see Let’s Go Global have another event this Saturday. Good luck & have fun!

      It would be great to stay in touch. You can reach me here or on twitter (DM for an email if you like) or I also work with Larkin’ About and you have our details already, I believe.

      Thanks for the response and for a great day.


  1. 1 Space Invaders – July 2010 to February 2011 :: bugs
  2. 2 7:Candles:Mcr – the film! « Vee Uye

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