ESI Wants You to Come Out and Play!

Posted May 17, 2010

Friday, June 4, 9-10pm
Brooklyn Lyceum: 227 4th Avenue between Union and President Streets (R to Union)

Ball Pop
Sunday, June 6, 11am-1pm
Long Meadow (northern end) of Prospect Park (2/3 to Grand Army Plaza)

At ESI Design, we take play very seriously. Sure, play is about having fun, but it also provides opportunities for creativity, innovation, problem-solving, collaboration, and engagement. Play is important both in childhood and throughout our adult lives, as researchers at the National Institute for Play and elsewhere have discovered. With this approach in mind, we build “play” into many of the interactive experiences we design for audiences and clients of all types, whether it’s a museum, visitor center, park, historic site, educational organization, corporate client, or sports organization. We also take this approach to heart for ourselves, trying to break traditional boundaries between work and play by creating a more playful work environment.

So it seemed like a win-win situation for us to partner with the Come Out and Play — it’s the chance for us to create some really fun games for people to play and have a lot of fun ourselves in the process. Since 2006, the festival has served as a showcase for original games played in public places throughout New York City. This year, the festival runs June 4-6, with its headquarters in Park Slope at the Brooklyn Lyceum and games planned for many of the surrounding neighborhoods. What are the games, you may ask?

First up, we designed a live-action version of the Atari 2600 classic Kaboom! In each round, the Mad Bomber will run back and forth across the balcony of the Lyceum, dropping bombs (that coincidentally resemble black balloons). The player’s job is to catch each one in a rolling bucket of water, extinguishing the fuse and saving the day. Each round increases the number and speed of dropped bombs, and there are only three lives to claim the high score. There is also one slight catch — for each life lost, the bucket gets smaller and more difficult to maneuver. Do you have what it takes to foil the Mad Bomber and join the exclusive, elite Bucket Brigade?

Our other game is called Ball-Pop, a series of original games and challenges played with parachutes and massive inflatable exercise balls in Prospect Park. Some will involve teamwork and collaboration, others will be competitive, culminating with an amazing daredevil challenge. The games — Ball-y-Oop, Juggalot, Ball-der-Dash, and Para-Shoot — get crazier and crazier! This is the perfect activity for everyone: children and adults, friends and neighbors, parachutists and exercise ball enthusiasts.

As Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, said at TED in 2008, “The thing that’s so unique about our species is that we’re really designed to play throughout our lifetime.” So come on out and play!

Debra Everett-Lane

Debra is ESI Design’s former Director of Content and Activity Design.

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