Urban game | Łódź, Grand Hotel, 15.09.2018
The atmosphere of the 1950s. Dark hotel corridors. In the background is The Browns and Bobby Darin. The atmosphere of secrets, fear and crime. A corpse was found in one of the suites. Witnesses evade and dodge from answering, try to make up stories, but each or one of them probably saw something, heard, perhaps even saw everything …
In May 2018, we faced one more task from a difficult category, which we also made even more complicated for ourselves. The Centre for the Dialogue reached out to us – a year before we organized for it a small game that did not require any special maintenance – about the history of Łódź – with a proposal to prepare a city game in the framework of Łódź Four Cultures festival. As the venue for the game, we were prompted to choose the Grand Hotel on Piotrkovska Street. We immediately embraced the idea, and a few days later we had a concept ready – to create a game that our city had never seen before, a game whose participants will be not so much observing players as players who temporarily become actors involved directly in developing the ideas and the plot of the game themselves. And it all had to be started with a police report.
“Report on the testimony of Eugene Sulsky concerning the murder of Mary Smith:
At about noon, I walked along the corridor on the fifth floor, where Mary Smith’s room was located. At that time, I heard a tinkle of broken glass that caught my attention, however, as the director of the hotel, I should not disturb the peace of the guests. Especially of respectable ones like Miss Smith. So I returned to my office on the ground floor. I spent the rest of the day in the office until a maid came running to me, screaming in fear that Miss Smith was dead. “
The game carried participants to Łódź during the thaw of the 1950s. Players had to take on the role of citizens conducting the investigation themselves. To safely leave the hotel they had to unravel the mystery of this death.
We did not have much time, because we had a lot of work to do, to prepare all what really happened at the hotel. We planned to use various mechanical solutions that we applied a year earlier in a game that took place within the walls of the Bolshoi Theater. Due to the great interest in the game and the small area of the object in which the game took place, we decided to divide the game into 3 rounds, each lasting about 1.5 hours. We wanted to base the entertainment 100% on the plot of the game and on the interaction of players with animators and the space. No substitutes and emptiness, only 100% captivating game content. It was assumed that the players were free to move around the hotel and question the alibi of its “staff” regarding the crime committed. The task of the players was to collect gossip, indirect evidence and facts that they could hear during the investigation, as well as to determine who told the truth, who lied and why, so that at the end of the game it was possible to identify the culprit and their motives.
To make this possible, we had to have a story that would allow players to fully immerse themselves in the atmosphere of suspense that awaited them. We devoted almost four weeks to developing this. The idea was not complicated, it did not go beyond the framework of the classic crime novel, and the difficulty was to translate it into the language of the game, so that the plot allowed people to play honestly.
To cope with the scale of the idea that we wanted to implement, we needed to put together a strong team that would help us launch the game efficiently. In total, about 30 people took part in the implementation of the event. To do this, it was necessary to collect the appropriate costumes, props, choose places inside the hotel and take care of their safety. Thanks to the good cooperation with the hotel staff, we were able to use rooms and suites that are usually not accessible to guests.
The game took place in mid-September, and we were very surprised by the players who completely switched to the game, accepted the plot of the game without any reservations, and many of them throughout the game did not go out of the role to which they were assigned. Although it was not so much a classic city game, and not even a game at all, everyone was satisfied and expressed their desire to once again take part in such great events.
Partners: Centrum Dialogu im. Marka Edelmana, Grand Hotel,
Game designers: Joanna Ufnalska, Vojislav Radojičić, Piotr Lipski, Sebastian Stefaniak
Graphic design: Adam Brajter
Animators: Piotr, Natalia, Daro Lisu, Martyna, Zosia, Marta M, Goktug, Andrzej, Tata Ufnalski, Kawec, Sebastian, Sławek, Marta, Mariusz
Cooperation: Gosia, Anita, Adam, Weronika, Jarek