18.09.2021, Lomonosov, Saint Petersburg
St. Petersburg, the sea, the game – what more do you want?
The game “K moriu” (Towards the sea) was created as an answer to the Open Call of the St. Petersburg project “Waterfront”. Although the length of St. Petersburg’s coastline is impressive – it is 2.5 thousand kilometers of banks of the rivers, canals; shores of lakes and the Gulf of Finland – often in the city you do not feel its connection with water. Working on this aspect is the main task of the Waterfront project, and this was also our task – to look at the city’s relationship with the sea in the suburb of Lomonosov (formerly – Oranienbaum). *The suburb of Lomonosov is historically and functionally a separate city, but administratively it is part of St. Petersburg. The game took place in the immediate vicinity of the “Orange Dune”. – an art installation in the form of a unique dune, previously built by the Waterfront project on Amber Beach.
The creative process before submitting the idea to Open Call circulated along different paths. We were thinking about sea monsters, somewhere there was also a vision of a game – a performance about turtles that are born on the outskirts of Lomonosov and their task is to reach the sea – and the players are supposed to help them do it. In such projects, however, more important than super creative ideas is the certainty that the project will be worked out well. There were many unknown things waiting for us in Lomonosov – we didn’t know the place itself, we had no experience with working by the sea, we didn’t know what to expect from the inhabitants of the city, last but not least – we didn’t know how the cooperation with the Waterfront project would go. Testing a completely new form, new mechanics in such conditions seemed unreasonable – we decided to base our game on well-tested mechanics, adding a lot of flavors connected with the sea and Lomonosov itself.
The game was prepared on the basis of SimUniversity system, which debuted in Lódź and was already presented in Sosnowiec, Poznań, Plovdiv and St. Petersburg – it’s quite a big knowledge base to find out what works in it and what should be improved. Game in SimUniversity system is a combination of board game and city game. Most of the action takes place on a big board imitating a city – there players buy plots and build buildings, they also have to traditionally circulate around the city and look for hidden codes. Thanks to the concentration of the game in one place such game is perfect when we want to keep players’ and observers’ attention in one place – in this case we wanted to focus on Amber Beach and Orange Dune. The whole content of the game revolved around the theme of the town of Lomonosov and its relationship with the sea – traditionally, the events appearing in the game (historical and future – invented) told the story of the town’s relationship with the sea. As usual, the events were richly illustrated with music and small theatrical forms. In terms of mechanics, water was also of primary importance – sometimes players were rewarded for building close to the sea, other times they had to consider the consequences of flooding.
However, the most unique thing about this game was its physical connection with the sea and the beach – the board was built on sand, players constructed their buildings from sand, all the time we struggled with the wind, pushing sand into all available spaces, knocking over our tent, blowing away poorly fixed elements of the board. Actors revealing subsequent events emerged from the sea, it was from the sea that the monster emerged, which in the final phase of the game destroyed a large part of the city.
In addition to the aforementioned harsh conditions, the short time of preparation was also a challenge for us – we had about three weeks to inspect the city, refine the game mechanics and content, and produce all the elements. In the end, we delivered a good, unforgettable game, but it could only be done thanks to the great team of the St. Petersburg Game Department and the exemplary cooperation with the Waterfront project (may all the clients have the same enthusiastic and professional attitude to the game production).
Organizer: Waterfront project (Albina Motor – curator, Polina Shtanko – coordinator)
Coordinator: Michał Grelewski
Animators: Olga Oniszczuk, Magdalena Michel, Ola Rusek, Anastasia Teyer, Tatiana Repina, Aleksandr Purgin, Jarosław Nikołajenko, Kristina Bobrova