Introduction: Gamepost - MSPF
Gamepost is a system of signs that encourage positive engagement with public spaces by presenting simple games for people to play while walking down the street.
Gamepost games are designed to be played by anyone who comes across them, with no special equipment, devices, or skills required. A Gamepost sign is a reminder that you have permission to play in your city.
Here are some brief instructions on how to make your own Gamepost game and sign.
Step 1: Design a Game
A Gamepost game is meant to be played by pedestrians who pass by and read the signs as they walk down the street. The games should be playable as the pedestrian player continues along their way – the goal is to make your routine walk more fun, not to break you out of said walk.
These goals tend to result in games with these qualities:
OBSERVATIONAL: Gamepost games encourage players to observe the world around them and notice interesting things about it. Use the surroundings to inspire gameplay: local architecture, traffic flow, surrounding businesses, other people, sounds, smells – all of these are elements that can be made more fun by being woven into a game.
BRIEF: Gamepost signs are meant to be read and absorbed while you're walking past them on a busy sidewalk. Copy should be as short as you can possibly make it without sacrificing clarity.
UNMODERATED: Gamepost games can be played by the players on their own, without someone around to explain the rules or walk them through the steps.
EQUIPMENT-FREE: Do not assume that the player has any special equipment on hand when they play your game – not even a smartphone (especially not a smartphone).
COMPREHENSIBLE: Players shouldn't need to spend time arguing the rules of a game or playing through it multiple times to understand it. Remove barriers between people and fun.
MALLEABLE: The rules as presented on a Gamepost sign are not laws for how to play, but are suggestions of ways to play. Players can and should be able to change the rules to make the game work for themselves.
NO REALLY, I MEAN BRIEF: If your game can't be explained in a few words without sacrificing gameplay or clarity, then throw it out and design a simpler game.
Step 2: Design the Sign
Most sign printing shops accept Adobe Illustrator, PDF, or EPS files for printing.
A standard parking sign is 12"x18", with 1.5" corner rounding, and 3/8" holes for mounting at the top and bottom, 1.5" from the edge.
Design the sign (using color, type, etc.) so that it sticks out from a typical parking sign as much as possible. Include a clear call to action (e.g., "PLAY A GAME") on the sign, so that passers-by can tell at a glance what your sign is about.
Text should be as large as is reasonably possible.
Add room for bleed according to your printer's specifications, and fill the bleed area with the appropriate color.
Step 3: (optional) Add Emoji to the Design
If you want to use emoji in your design to illustrate the game, you have to do a bit of hacking, because emoji aren't normal fonts and design tools like Illustrator can't render them natively.
- Open TextEdit (Mac) or another word processor.
- Enter your emojis using the character palette (Mac) or touch keyboard (Windows).
- Export the document to a PDF.
- Import the PDF into Illustrator.
The emoji symbols will be available to you as bitmap objects that you can copy and paste into your design.
Step 4: Gather Materials
- 1 12x18" blank parking sign with 3/8" holes for mounting (available from various online retailers)
- 1 vinyl print (see next step)
- Vinyl hand applicator ("squeegee"), or a credit card
- X-acto knife
- 2 plastic zip tie guides
- 2 screws
- 2 washers
- 2 nuts
- zip ties
Step 5: Print and Apply Graphics
Graphics should be printed on sign vinyl with adhesive backing (e.g., 3M Controltac). Your sign printer can advise you on specific materials and treatments.
Carefully apply the vinyl to the sign back, using the squeegee to smooth out any air bubbles that arise as you go.
Using an x-acto knife, trim off the edges of the print and cut out the mounting holes.
Step 6: Install the Sign
Attach the zip tie guides to the back of the sign using screws, washers, and nuts.
Run the zip ties through the guides and wrap them around the pole.
Tighten and trim the zip ties.
Step 7: Watch People Play
Find a comfortable place to hang out near (but not too near to) your sign. Watch pedestrians as they walk past. Note which people simply glance at your sign, and which stop to read it through. Note when groups stop and discuss the sign, work through the game's rules, and start playing together.
If you've designed games that encourage the player to walk on and observe the world around them, you might not be able to tell whether they're playing or not. In that case, simply bask in the feeling that you've injected some playfulness into the world.