Playmakers in Maldives

are 10 international game making artists from different countries, who all went to Maldives for a week in April 2013, organised by Amani Naseem. In Maldives the group created new games with and for people in the capital Malé to play and participate.

Some games could not travel to the exhibition in Venice, since they were designed for a particular space and time in Maldives and are shown as documentation, such as The Hunt for the Yellow Banana. Other games were shown in Venice and beyond in the touring exhibition, such as Dreams in a Bottle and Jelly Stomp. Several new games have been produced by other game making artists since, such as an inventive board game by Melbourne-based Harry Lee, and added to the exhibition, see below for more details on each game.

Amani Naseem, Ida Marie Toft, Patrick Jarnfelt, Sidsel Hermansen

The following games were conceived during “Play Around Nature” in a series of public play events in the Maldives, 2013.

The Goat Herder and his Fainting Goats

The Goat Herder and his fainting goats

Using an augmented reality drone the police is trying to collect evidence of the goat herder’s criminal activity. Players play as police, herders or fainting goats. All are all after the precious goods.


Bite sized water games

Bite Sized Water Games
Three small games played in water. These games are short, silly and loads of fun.

Jelly Stomp (played on knee high water)
Jelly Plop (played in belly-deep water)
Poisoned Sea (played in shoulder-deep water or deeper)


Sound of the Crowd

An audio-based game taking place in the Malé soundscape. Players are either demonstrators or police: the police will try to locate the demonstrators by hearing where the noise from the demonstration is, while the demonstrators are continuously gathering and scattering to avoid the police. Played with smartphones with headphones in the street.

Amani Naseem is a digital designer and researcher from the Maldives currently based in Melbourne. She works in transdisciplinary groups to create experimental games that have gained international recognition and have been shown at exhibitions and conferences (e.g. Meaningful Play, Michigan, Future and reality of Games, Vienna, CODE 2012, Melbourne) and at street games festivals (e.g. Playpublik, Berlin and Play:Vienna, Nordic Game). A member of the Copenhagen Game Collective, she is involved in promoting game culture by organizing game jams and curating workshops and events among the Indie Games scene in Copenhagen. Amani is undertaking her PHD in games design at RMIT 2013-16 Melbourne while curating w00t – Copenhagen Festival of Games and Play, and various games events in Copenhagen.

Ida Marie Toft is a media artist and digital designer, working in collaborative groups to create games and interventions in public spaces. She currently works at The Patching Zone, a medialab for innovation and artistic praxis. Here she works together with students in a vocational school to develop an experimental mixed reality game for Rotterdam South. As a media artist and game creator, Ida has worked with internationally recognised artists and artist groups such as Evan Roth (US), Blast Theory (UK) and Translocal (FI), she has been involved in game projects across Europe and had a residency at Pony Ride, Detroit. Her work has been shown in exhibitions, conferences (e.g. Meaningful Play, Michigan and Future and Reality of Gaming, Vienna) and urban games festivals (e.g. Playpublik, Berlin and PlayVienna)

Patrick Jarnfelt works across new technologies to create web, game and new media experiences. He has a strong passion for creating novel and experimental projects that involve the social and physical aspects of play.
This is why he co-founded the Copenhagen Game Collective, to advance the indie game developer community and to innovate the practice of game design. He has been instrumental in organizing and creating events like the Nordic Game Indie night, the Copenhagen Play festival: w00t, and many game jams.
He has created many experimental games that include body and mind. An example is Idiots attack the Top Noodle, a physical game using Playstation Move Controllers and a brainwave scanner that he created with Amani Naseem and Ida Toft.

Sidsel Marie Hermansen is a Copenhagen-based musician, sound- and game designer. With a background on the vibrant alternative music scene of Copenhagen in several bands, and a recent Masters degree in game design from the IT University of Copenhagen, one of her main goals is to build bridges between the game scene and people from other artistic fields. Sound and music, and especially the gray areas in between, are a pivotal point of departure for most of her work. She is currently in the initial stages of creating a game project with a group of non-games artists, writers and composers in Copenhagen. Additionally, she will be creating interactive installations for the new music and performance festival Henry’s Dream, as well as inviting other game and interactive artists to create new experiences at the festival.


Andrea Hasselager & William Drew

The Hunt for the Yellow Banana

In collaboration with Amani Naseem, this game was also created during Play Around Nature in a series of public play events in the Maldives, 2013.

The Banana was first sighted in the Maldivian capital of Malé in April 2013. Its arrival in the city happened to coincide with a two-week visit from an international group of games designers, including William Drew (Venice as a Dolphin) and Andrea Hasselager (Play & Grow). Rumours spread that these game designers had created the figure of the Banana as some kind of game. While it is true that the well-intentioned foreigners were seen handing out flyers and putting up posters throughout the city alerting people to the search for the missing Banana, this material had in fact been deposited with them anonymously. Considering themselves responsible citizens, they distributed it, unaware of the exact intentions of the unseen power behind the Hunt for the Yellow Banana. To date, the Banana is still missing and the question remains: “Does it want to be found?”

The Hunt For The Yellow Banana from Andrea Hasselager on Vimeo.

 Too much, too little, too late

Too much, too little, too late

The installation thematises the sometimes absurd and Sisyphus-like in human addiction and attempted control of nature. On the one hand, there is too much water (the islands are slowly being flooded), and on the other hand, too little: As groundwater is exhausted because of the growing population on the islands. The resources are running dry, and nature is about to take over. It is a never-ending circle where there can never be a winner, while the proportions and balance of power is constantly changing.

Andrea Hasselager is a Danish artist, and has been working with digital storytelling and games for 5 years. She has a background as a writer for advertising. She developed an online story about trafficking in women, ‘Find Olena’ , while being a resident at the Pervasive Media Studio. Her game about the Nordic Fruits and vegetation, Jumping Suzy, won the Nordic Game Jams ‘New Nordic food price’. Lately she has developed the global concept Game Girl Workshop, where she teaches teenage girls to develop computer, Game Girl Workshop has recently been realised in Palestine. In 2014 she set up DIAS – the first Kunsthalle for Digital Art in Denmark.

William Drew makes games as Venice as a Dolphin. His first game, The Eschaton, inspired by a game described in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest was developed through Coney at the Battersea Arts Centre and was featured at playARK in Cardiff, Playpublik in Berlin and igFest in Bristol. He has designed and run science communication games at the Green Man Festival (Wales) and the Barbican Centre in London (both supported by the Wellcome Trust). Recently, he worked on the game design for an interactive theatrical adventure called Wilfred Bagshaw’s Time Emporium. Before becoming involved in games, he worked for many years in theatre. He also writes regularly about games for a variety of websites including Beefjack, Rock Paper Shotgun and Wired.


Viktor Bedö

Operation Noose

In collaboration with Amani Naseem, this game was conceived during “Play Around Nature” in a series of public play events in the Maldives, 2013.

roundMale_bA smartphone-based chasing game in the urban space built on the vague difference between place and location.

An intruder landed in your country. She has been located in your district and is on the run now. It is up to you and your special force buddies to arrest her by tightening the noose and closing the trap. But be aware! The intruder has tapped into your communication network. She knows what you know. She can outmaneuver your tracing equipment and render it less accurate. Can you and your special force buddies prevent the Intruder from escaping by using group strategy, intuition and local knowledge?

Playing time: 20 min (+ initialization)
Number of players: 3-15 (in 3-6 teams)
Playing area: neighborhood of approximately 7×7 streets
Technology requirements: internet enabled smartphone running WhatsApp Messenger

Viktor Bedö PhD is a street game designer and philosopher based in Berlin. He holds a PhD in Philosophy, is a lecturer in Design Thinking and a founding member of the street- and urban-games collective Invisible Playground. His activities are organized around his passion for urban dynamics, visual thinking and team based artistic and creative processes. In his PhD thesis “Interactive Urban Maps as Instruments of Thinking” he examined how bodily experience of urban life enables the discovery of emerging patterns on real-time urban maps. In Olafur Eliason’s Institute für Raumexperimente he cooperated with young artists on turning theoretical concepts of space and body into interactive performances. His Design Thinking experience enables him to work with and facilitate multidisciplinary teams employing visual methods and prototyping. In the recent years he has been extensively touring international arts festivals with Invisible Playground (e.g. Copenhagen Art Festival, Oerol Festival Holland, Hide&Seek Weekender London).


Kunal Gupta & Joe Ahearn

Maldives Trading


In collaboration with Amani Naseem, this game was conceived during “Play Around Nature” in a series of public play events in the Maldives, 2013.

Maldives Trading is a three-day Alternative Reality Game that traces the trajectories of Maldivian stories as they enter and explore a new community.

Small sculptures with a telephone number inscribed on them form game pieces that bring people into the Maldives Trading universe.  Each sculpture – for example: a whale shark, kelp, flying fish, diaper, a piece of the moon – is intertwined with personal story told by a Maldivian during the making of the game.

Initial players take a game piece from an on site installation and call the Maldives Trading robo-calling ledger system phone number, which delivers the original story behind the object, then invites the player to trade the game piece onwards by telling its story.

New players receive a game piece only by trading with a previous player for it, not necessarily aware of the game during the exchange.  To play, the new player then calls the Maldives Trading robo-calling ledger system phone number, which asks the player to recount the story of the personal item that they just traded away, and then invites the player to trade their game piece onwards as well by telling its story.

At every trade, the Maldives Trading robo-calling ledger system calls every player of Maldives Trading and delivers the story of an item that was just traded in exchange for a game piece.  If the stories sound exciting, interesting, fun, or just valuable, it may be worth seeking and trading for the game piece again, if only to trade it for the next interesting thing.

Kunal Gupta is a New York City-based artist and musician. Holding degrees from both Columbia and NYU, Kunal is an established figure within the international technology-arts community. Most notably he is founder of the independent video game collective Babycastles, which has gained international acclaim for its innovative use of computer and video game technology and a social and creative medium. Kunal is also part of the experimental music trio Loud Objects. He has toured extensively to perform, create site-specific installations, and give artist lectures, including his recent Babycastles Arcade Summit at the Museum of Art and Design in Manhattan. He has co-directed the New York City all-ages art and music venue Silent Barn in Brooklyn since 2010.

Joe Ahearn is a leading voice in USA’s network of underground music and performance spaces, listed as number one in Flavorwire’s 50 Up-and-Coming New York Culture Makers to Watch in 2013. Joe is the Curator of Performance and Installation at The Clocktower Gallery in Lower Manhattan. Under the direction of Alanna Heiss, founder and former director of P.S.1, and alongside David Weinstein, founder of Roulette, he has organized over 100 events in this experimental performance space during the last 2 years in coordination with over 40 residencies annually and 4 large scale exhibitions, emphasizing collaborations between visual and audio artists and encouraging artists to push beyond the mediums and contexts they’re comfortable with. Since 2008, Ahearn been curator and organizer at the Silent Barn in Brooklyn, a space for music, literature, installations and performance art. He is especially involved with the Party Lab project, a recording installation that condenses event experiences into an ocean of cassette tapes.


Lena Mechtchanova

Dreams in the Bottle

In collaboration with Amani Naseem, this game was conceived during “Play Around Nature” in a series of public play events in the Maldives, 2013.

Dreams in a Bottle

‘All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.’ – Walt Disney

The Dream Bottle was invented to preserve and help the fulfilment of dreams. Everybody is welcome to join the mission.

How can you accomplish the mission? Find the Bottle, or wait until it finds you! Choose a dream from the bottle and make it come true for somebody you like. Then put your own dream inside and don’t forget to believe in it.

Lena Mechtchanova works in the field of site-specific theatre to create street games, happenings and experiences in public space. She is interested in the topic of interactivity and it’s possibilities in different art forms. In the last years she was involved in projects all over Europe and has participated in different festivals, such as Prague theatre festival 4 days in motion, urban development and public space festival reSITE in Prague or street games festival Playpublik in Berlin.

The Playmakers in Maldives visit to Maldives in April 2013 was made possible with the support of: Mookai Suites, & Top Up.