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The Black Veil

Renga

25 February 12 words: Penny Reeve
Lasers, one cinema screen and one hundred players - let the team play begin
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Imagine an evening of gaming with all of your friends, but instead of being stuck in a tiny room in front of a little tv grappling for remotes, you have an entire cinema at your disposal, and an interactive game capable of accommodating up to a hundred players. Sounds like the future doesn’t it? Well, the future is here! RENGA - a game that debuted at GameCity 6 and was created by Nottingham based duo wallFour - is an innovative new communal gaming experience which allows up to a hundred players, armed with lasers, to work collaboratively on an interactive mission displayed on the big screen.

Before you think that this venture is just for hardcore gamers, I’ll let you in on a secret -  despite my recent ‘Best Mario World Player Ever’ mantle, I’m not that confident in my gaming skill - calling myself an average gamer is pushing it. Thankfully though, although RENGA has been made by experts that have some serious history in the gaming field, RENGA is accessible for all, no matter what skill level; if you can hold a pen, you pretty much qualify. The game focuses on teamwork rather than skill, and for those of us that attended Monday night’s special screening of RENGA at Broadway - a special screening before being taken across the world to be exhibited at the infamous SXSW festival - we were about to find out just how much of a group effort was needed.

Designed to be a collaborative experience, RENGA combines elements of old-school arcade games (Galaga/Space Invaders) with conquest strategy games like Civilization. There is no way to win by working on your own, each laser pen possessor has to work as part of a team to decide the future of the colony and how to proceed as best as possible into the next round. We needed to perform different tasks to advance and grow our colony and keep it from being destroyed by the enemy whilst building walls and gathering supplies, with each task being of equal importance. As we were rewarded for collaboration and co-ordination, communication between players was paramount - to the extent that it felt almost rude not to shout out suggestions throughout the game. Although, these often resulted in cries of “what are you doing that for?” and “who’s pulling it the wrong way?!”.

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Whilst we blasted our way through space (a standard game lasts for about an hour), a ‘game jockey’ kept an eye on us from the projector room, enabling him to manipulate the pace and difficulty of RENGA a small amount, so that we didn’t die within the first ten minutes or continue playing for seven hours. This was probably a good thing, as I could have imagined us working away for a good the majority of the evening, attempting to construct a brand new empire. As the game drew to a close, there was a real build up of excitement, which ultimately ended a win for us, after killing a boss that struck fear into the hearts of the collected gamers. Although there were a few different ideas as to what the best way to work was, the group had come together as a well oiled machine by the last round and when at last victory was ours, it was definitely a shared celebration. As wallFour promised, we arrived as an audience but left as a team.

Essentially, RENGA is a game that promotes interaction and communication through gaming, and hopefully will provide the model for further games that take advantage of a bigger environment than your traditional front room, whilst appealing to an audience wider than that of the traditional gaming sphere. Seeing as RENGA is now heading for SXSW and has already been showcased in Asia, it looks like huge things are about to happen for this style of game – great news for the future of gaming and wallFour themselves. Bring on the lasers!

Renga was played at Broadway on Monday 20 February.

wallFour website


 

 

 

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