July 14-16, 2016


New York, NY – June 29, 2016 – New media, engineering, and game artists from NYU MAGNET (Media and Games Network) and Times Square Arts bring PlayTimesSquared, a festival of physical and social games infused with technology, to the Broadway Plazas (between 42nd and 43rd Streets and 43rd and 44th Streets) from July 14-16, 2016. An unveiling will take place on Thursday, July 14th at noon.  

In the NYU class Designing Play For Times Square, students explored the challenges of creating games for a multilingual, multicultural audience in a crowded public space, devising simple instructions while keeping the games intriguing and compelling. Taking into account the unique aspects of Times Square as well as the issue of games for a global audience, they’ve created eight playful, live-action games with different levels of difficulty and interactivity.

Now, these games are coming to the Broadway pedestrian plazas. With objectives as simple as trying to collect high-fives or as complex as navigating the NYC subway system, employees, residents and visitors can let off steam this summer by escaping into a ‘playground’ for three days.

All eight games will be available from 12pm – 4pm on July 14 and 15, and from 2pm – 6pm on July 16. All visitors to the plazas are invited to participate on a first come, first served basis.

Greg Trefry, NYU Professor and teacher of Designing Play for Times Square, said, “Like Times Square, play evokes such wildly different feelings in us: you can feel in control and out of control, alone and part of a team, serious and silly, often all at the same time. With PlayTimesSquared, we wanted to design games where the play and the space would amplify each other making for a unique experience.”

Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, said, “Just as Times Square reflects the creativity of the city, these students reflect their experiences of living in New York City, from many multicultural contexts. Infused by the collaboration of diverse perspectives, their games remind us that there is a playful part of all of us that relishes in being set free in our public spaces.”

Sherry Dobbin, Times Square Arts Director, said, “This collaboration with NYU Magnet was a direct result of having Luke DuBois as a resident artist in 2015. He noticed that I received quite a few proposals for interesting small projects and realized that bringing the games specialists together in a class could produce a really experimental festival of gaming. He called upon his colleagues at NYU, who created a course where the Alliance staff and students considered how to create summertime fun in Times Square.”


Individual Game Descriptions:

Faces of New York: Draw fractions of an image that will be combined into a larger mural over the course of the day. Real-life photographs will be abstracted with tools such as crayons, colored pencils, and other art supplies.

High5ZONE: Race through separated zones in a crowded public space with the help of high-fives. In the game, a group of players are “trapped” in a grid, and can only move by high-fiving passersby. By encouraging the universal and positive interaction of high-fives, High5ZONE explores how strangers interact with each other in the context of gaming, and how that context influences our mentality towards strangers.

Museum of Missed Connections: Navigate Times Square both in space and time as you follow instructions through headphones. Players will also interact with other players, building a sense of mystery as everyone engages with props and artifacts across the space.

Prom Game:  Welcome to Prom – a social elimination game with light role-play elements and a quintessentially American theme. Players mingle and choose someone to get to know using questions from different love tests. As the game progresses, more and more couples will be “sent home” until the last remaining couple is crowned Prom King and Queen. Mechanically, this is a game about finding the other player who has the closest number to yours. Socially, it is about giving players the chance to have quirky one-on-one interactions with people they would never meet in their regular life. It is an exercise in both intimate conversation and absurdity.

Real Pong: In a real-life version of the old arcade game “Pong,” two teams of 3-4 players hit a large beach ball back and forth, trying to get it past the opposing team. Each team controls a single connected string of cubic boxes, with each team member holding a single box. The teams must move and attack the ball together in order to succeed.

Subway Chaos: Hopscotch across a large subway map in a race to Times Square that mirrors the hustle and bustle of commuting in NYC. Each of the four players will be assigned to a colored line. To win, they’ll need to pick up all the bean bags on the map of their colored line, and will need to deal with unexpected roadblocks created by bean bags of the other players’ colors – much like NYC commuters deal with unanticipated delays, large crowds, train substitutions and more.

Symphonic Picnic: Experience Times Square in a new way by sitting in this outdoor picnic space, created by a configuration of astroturf and blankets. A variety of interactive musical mushrooms accentuate the leisure and playfulness of a picnic while letting visitors collaboratively manipulate sounds over a backing ambient track.

TossYourBeanBack: Choose a teammate, grab a bean bag and try to score a higher point than the opposing team within a time limit. Teammates score points by taking turns tossing bean bags to a designated area and back; the further the area, the more points it’s worth. Remember you’re a team; you can choose to go further and push yourself, or keep the stable way to win. No matter what your strategy is, be quick and good luck.

PlayTimesSquared will be on view July 14-16 on the Broadway Plazas between 42nd and 43rd Streets and 44th and 45th Streets.


Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborates with contemporary artists and cultural institutions to experiment and engage with one of the world's most iconic urban places. Through the Square's electronic billboards, public plazas, vacant areas and popular venues, and the Alliance's own online landscape, Times Square Arts invites leading contemporary creators to help the public see Times Square in new ways. Times Square has always been a place of risk, innovation and creativity, and the Arts Program ensures these qualities remain central to the district's unique identity. Generous support of Times Square Arts is provided by ArtPlace America and ArtWorks. Visit TimesSquareNYC.org/Arts for more information. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @TSqArts.

NYU MAGNET (Media and Games Network)
The Designing Play for Times Square class at NYU is comprised of artists, designers and engineers working together to design unique live-action playful experiences and games. The class was taught by Greg Trefry, the director of Come Out & Play, an annual festival of street games.


Media Contacts:

For Times Square Arts:

TJ Witham

212.452.5234 | TJWitham@TimesSquareNYC.org

Marisa Wayne

212.843.9216 | MWayne@Rubenstein.com