Stepping into this year´s Mind the Game headquarters, a small room in the H13 building in central Budapest, I am sucked into the whirlwind of excitement overcoming everybody working inside the small space. “Here are some scissors,” someone presses a bright green pair of scissors into my hand. “Cut.”
Mindspace founders and volunteers work hand in hand concluding and perfecting the last-minute details of the long-awaited urban game that is set to begin in a few hours. Once everything is cut, glued, checked and re-checked, Marti, the wheels of the operation, tells us where we´ll be and when, and what we need to hang up around the city before the game. While sticking question boxes and pictures across fences and buildings in old town Budapest I realize that timing is really a key element in urban game preparation. Preparing the gaming grounds too soon means you might have things stolen before the contestants even begin. And preparing too last minute, well, that never works.
After hanging my last question boxes not far from where the game would begin, I see a few excited faces standing outside Lumen Café, the starting point of the event. Were these participants!? It´s exciting to meet the actual people who will be enjoying the game that you designed specifically for them. As we wait more people arrive. Smiles on their faces and curious to see what the game has in store for them. The group is mixed. Some people are coming from work, others students. I still recall two middle aged women, friends, who came to enjoy a fun night out together.
So why do this in the first place? Mindspace, the organizers of the event, believe that mass open urban games are a way for people to experience their city in a different way. It allows people to connect with other residents they might never have had a chance or reason to meet. It provides a fun and interactive platform to learn about the city you usually see under one lenses: your own lenses. Making people step outside of themselves for one night allows participants to physically see the changes Budapest has undergone throughout its history, and more importantly, helps them realize that it will still undergo many changes in the future. As Budapest citizens, we all have a say in how the city should change and improve. Working together to get these messages out gives Budapest a greater chance at making it a citizen-friendly and adaptable city.
Text: Denise Celeghin
Photo: Győző Horváth