I briefly mentioned Stephen Lavelle's Happening Game in my Indie Game Arcade Roundup, but it more than deserves its own post. The game itself is downloadable from Stephen's site but honestly, if you're going to download it, you're going to have to imagine you're at the Eurogamer Expo and there are tons of other people who have given it a go besides you.

Happening Game makes no sense as a home-played experience, but in an exhibition environment as last week, it's just fantastic. Playable only with 2 people (attempting to start 1-player will result in the game telling you to find someone to play with), it's more of an experiment than anything. Each pair of players are given a keycode, then given tasks depending on how well they know each other. As tasks are completed, more really ridiculous tasks are provided until they get so horrendous that you feel too embarrassed to continue.

It's based on the idea of Happenings (art performances in which active participation from the audience is a must), hence the name. Initially I gave it a go with Terry Cavanagh and we chose the 'strangers' option from the menu. The first few tasks were simple 'Shake Hands' and 'Introduce Yourselves' commands. The game then asked us to meet back at that spot in an hour's time. Then we were asked to introduce two other people to the game. Finally it began to ask us to do things with each other than strangers just would not do, so we stopped there.

I also gave it a playthrough on the 'Friends' mode with someone I'd come along with, and we were given different tasks which were more to do with interacting. I didn't give the 'Family' or 'Lovers' modes a try, but according to those who did, I really didn't want to, as they ended rather vulgarly.

It was the idea, however, that I really liked. The thought that many others will have walked by, started a game, and then either passed it off as a silly concept and moved on, or maybe stuck around and really tried to get as far as possible. Now there's a set of results I wouldn't mind having a gander at.

[Again, photo courtesy of Rob Fearon - my photos coming as soon as I get my camera back!]