Marionette Soccer

Marionette Soccer: four people on a grassy fiend. Two people are blindfolded. The other players use hula hoops to guide them toward a ball, which they attempt to kick.

I can attest that there is no better way to spend a chilly Memorial Day morning than running around blindfolded in a park, being steered (via hula hoop) toward a kickball, flailing wildly and praying that your foot will connect. Marionette soccer!

At IndieCade East in February earlier this year, I shared a speaking slot with the amazing Greg Trefry, director of the Come Out & Play Festival. His talk, “Move! Lessons from 10-years of playing in the street” was stylish, funny, and inspiring.

I’ve wanted to create more physical space games for a long time–a couple of years ago I collaborated on a street game, and of course have been working for a long time on escape room games. And I have long been impressed by the work of several of my incredibly talented friends (just look at the amazing stuff by Gabe Smedresman, Josh Lee, and Albert Kong!) So after I got back from IndieCade East, I decided it was time to get crackin’.

Two men stand back to back, crouching. They have hula hoops around their bodies, and attempt to pass a horseshoe from one hoop to the other.

Designers will make a game out of whatever’s at hand. Or butt.

Greg’s talk outlined a lot of the fun chaos of street games: people will play how they want to play. He talked about a game involving a giant pile of humongous red bouncy balls; people couldn’t keep themselves away from them, even though they weren’t playing the game the balls were intended for. He reiterated the importance of spectacle, describing a game of citywide tag that began with a proper English hunting party, including a set of leashed hounds, and a bugle call.

Thus, for the most recent physical game projects I’ve worked on, I’ve been aiming for the following: 1) visual spectacle, 2) relatively constrained space, 3) several players, and 4) intuitive rules/gameplay that is simple enough to grasp from just observing people at play.

The first was Dysforgiveness for this year’s Ludum Dare (come see us in the IndieCade Showcase at E3 this year!) and the second was Marionette Soccer.

Marionette Soccer: four people on a grassy fiend. Two people are blindfolded. The other players use hula hoops to guide them toward a ball, which they attempt to kick.

For Marionette Soccer, two players are blindfolded, and hold a hula hoop around their bodies. Two other players grasp the hula hoops and use them to guide the blindfolded players toward a kickball, which they attempt to get into a goal. Players can’t use speech to communicate. Much flailing ensues. It’s fun to watch, and even more fun to play, on both sides of the hoop.

Three cheers for everyone who turned up at the park on Memorial Day morning for the mini jam, including but not limited to Seanna Musgrave, Josh Schonstal, Yori Kvitchko, and Rob Linnemann. We each brought bits and pieces that we thought might be useful for making something, and then just went for it.

It was very useful to have the time, space, and tool constraints, and more importantly, it was a ton of fun.

A video posted by Laura E. Hall (@lauhall) on

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  1. Pingback: Marionette Soccer at Come Out & Play NYC | Laura E. Hall

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