The Interesting Games festival.

What started out as the first pervasive games testing lab, iglab, quickly grew in to one of Bristol’s signature events. Igfest ran for five years from 2008 to 2013.

After having spent a few years working for blast theory, I could see there was a nascent form developing at the boundary of games, theatre and art. I had collected enough ideas by 2008 to set up iglab programme. I founded the programme in order to both; popularise this form of games and to encourage experimentation in other artists and designers.

At iglab, a lot was made of the use of new technologies to create novel experiences but a lot was also made from card and gaffer tape. Rapid prototyping and fast iteration was the order of the day. Staging a monthly games events offered, both to myself and the other game designers involved, a solid platform to learn our trade, hone our skills and the space to figure out what does and does not work.

While iglab remained active, the project quickly scaled from the lab format to become an annual festival. The enthusiasm of the community of people that gathered around the project was without doubt the cause of this rapid growth. Key among those supporters at this time was the Pervasive media studio. Play and games are very much a part of the studios DNA now. A fact that is more that evident in the ongoing success of the studio’s Playable City platform.

When Simon Johnson created iglab he became one of a handful of founders of a movement that combined games, theatre and other art forms to create new kinds of engaging and transformative experiences that I never before experienced. This movement not only changed how the the cultural sector (and myself) regard play, it’s infectious energy was a key success in bringing together the Pervasive Media Studio community, and in inspiring what is now the global Playable City movement. From how to invite an audience to play, to how to design a compelling experience – The games that Simon makes and curates continue to deliver huge learning about cities, site specific work, collaboration and perhaps importantly how to have fun as a grown up.

Clare Reddington, Watershed

The lab events were chaotic, hands on, dynamic and participatory. Strong encouragement was given too anyone who turned up to turn their hand to designing a game. We also ran workshops especially targeted at artists to help them extend their practice.

We really wanted to get involved in making street games but we didn’t know where to start. igfest gave us the platform and the support to start making our own work

Ali John, Yellowbrick.

In the 5 years the festival ran, we featured more that 100 games at the festivals made by around 60 different artists. Igfest received significant funding from Arts Council England, Bristol City Council, Watershed and Creative England.

A few more trailers.