There are many things that Bristol is known for; its strong sense of community, its playful nature, enthusiastic inhabitants and its focus on collaboration.

But bringing together all of these qualities this summer is IGLAB – the interesting games lab. Relaunching on the 24 July at Bristol’s creative hub the Pervasive Media Studio, IGLAB is the new way for game designers and creatives to experiment with game concepts and ideas – in real life, with real people, whilst having lots of fun.

“IGLAB is both a place to try out new kinds of games and a place to grow and develop the community of people making them”

 

Initially set up back in 2008, IGLAB was behind the hugely successful Igfest held in Bristol in 2008 and 2011 which brought together hundreds of people for some of the most wacky and wonderful street games you’ve ever seen. You can get an idea of the vibes of IGLAB by checking out the video of Igfest below:

 

Bringing IGLAB back to Bristol’s playful community is local games studio Free Icecream who are dedicated to making complex subjects playable.

Free Ice Cream’s Director Simon Johnson tells us: “There is nothing like this out there. Where can you go to discover playful ways to interact with the city? Also if you make this kind of work, it’s hard to know who your community is. IGLAB is both a place to try out new kinds of games and a place to grow and develop the community of people making them. Both of these things are needed.”

By all, for all

The first IGLAB will be completely free and open to all to get involved, whether you’re a games designer or just love playing games. Giving us a taste for what to expect, Simon says: “The focus of IGLAB is in creating new and exciting modes of play. These frequently will be enabled by some kind of tech. It’s important to note though that the focus really is on the experiences, not the technology.

“If you want to build a game that has some new wizzy tech at its core… we can trial the core mechanics before you invest time and money”

 

“The lab is the place where you can bring your idea for a game and we can paper test it. So if you want to build a game that has some new wizzy tech at its core, at the lab we can trial the core mechanics before you invest all that time and money into what may not be the most fun part of your idea.

That said, IGLAB will be exploring several themes over the course of this Lab series, with the following announced so far:

  • Whose Rules: A feminist approach to play
  • Seventh Sense: Games that give you superpowers
  • What Lies Beneath: What games tell us about the rules of the city

Get involved

If you need even more reason to get involved in IGLAB, Simon tells us: “I can’t stress the importance of community in a project like this, so I am certainly looking forward to seeing who turns up.

“We’d like to hear from anyone interested in playing around with games and play”

 

“I hope there will be some old faces in there but I also hope there will be a host of new players and makers interested in the opportunities afforded by this kind of play. I am also looking forward to playing some games, hopefully out on the streets!”

The Free Icecream team is also on the lookout for more games to test in future lab sessions. Simon adds: “We’d like to hear from anyone interested in playing around with games and play. You don’t have to be a game designer. In fact, we are actively seeking to engage with people from all kinds of backgrounds.”

The TechSPARK team is very excited about IGLAB and it appears the whole of Bristol is too which means its launch event on 24 July is already sold out. However, the date for the next IGLAB has been announced as 28 September so stick the date in your diaries and stay up to date by joining the IGLAB mailing list or following IGLAB on Twitter here: @iglab or on the IGLAB Facebook page

If anyone is curious and wants to find out more about testing their games at an IGLAB event, they can also email the organisers at iglab@freeicecream.co.uk

[Image credit: Castle Park Group]

Alice Whale