A physical game installation created with Nathalie Pozzi, originally comissioned by Babycastles in New York City, 2010.

Two players search through an archive of 200 game boards, looking for the best match to please a judge. Flatlands is a game about language, social interaction, and the aesthetics of games.

Flatlands is a game installation that makes use of my collection of 200+ board games. It was my third collaboration with architect Nathalie Pozzi. Originally comissioned by Babycastles in 2010 for their Manhattan gallery, it has since appeared in 2013 at the Museum of Design Atlanta’s show XYZ – Alternative Voices in Game Design.

In Flatlands, two players compete to find the perfect board in the archive to please a judge. Each round, players play cards from their hand that create changing criteria for the comparison. There are adjective cards and noun cards, which combine to make statements like colorless geometries or nostalgic characters. (Of course, colorless characters or nostalgic geometries are just as possible.) The players argue their case before the judge, who picks the winner. The first player to win 3 rounds wins the game.

The game design explores my interest in making a cultural space the field of play, as players argue over the visual aesthetics and socio-cultural meanings of game boards. I also like the abstract, fable-like narrative that the game implies – two archivists searching through a space of dead culture, attempting to please a judge whose word is law. Nathalie’s modular design of the game board shelves creates an elegant theatrical space in which this drama plays out. Needless to say, Flatlands makes an excellent spectator sport.

Graphic design by Rachel Morris. Special thanks to Matt Hawkins, who curated Flatlands for Babycastles in 2010. Also thanks to XYZ curators Celia Pearce, Cindy Poremba, Adam Rafinski, John Sharp, and Akira Thompson. Photo and video documentation by The Raftermen.