Playing Dumb-o: Street game fest comes to Manhattan Archway

Foam battle: The annual game festival, coming to Dumbo for its third year, will engage passersby in fun, goofy games — often re-purposing objects like bean bags and swim noodles.
Brooklyn Paper
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Let the games begin!

Dumbo will become a giant playground this weekend, when street games take over the Archway under the Manhattan Bridge and surrounding areas on July 20.

The “Come Out and Play” festival, in Dumbo for its third year, will recruit passersby to face off in brief, free competitions that use cell phones, virtual reality goggles, and other props. The event encourages people to connect with the public space and to work together, said one of the festival’s co-hosts.

“It is kind of a community event,” said Nicholas Fortugno, the co-founder of a game company Playmatics. “Games encourage strangers to interact with each other.”

The day-long festival, co-sponsored by the Dumbo Business Improvement District, Playmatics, and Gigantic Mechanic game studio, will feature games for children during the event’s “Family Day,” from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.; players age 18 and older will face off in more cutthroat competitions from 6–10 p.m. Previous events have drawn crowds of up to 3,000 people over the course of the day, according to Fortugno.

This year event will feature about 25 activities, including sports-like competitions, like a “Capture the Flag” variant that uses bean bags; activities that build on traditional board games like chess; and games that employ new technology. For example, in the game “Mad Mixologist,” which owes more to mad science than bartending, two players wear virtual reality goggles as they try to pour, mix, and garnish drinks, but they can only see themselves — literally — through their partner’s eyes. Other activities let players get inventive: In “Useless Technology,” a judge draws a card with a category on it, and players have two minutes to imagine and pitch an invention that fits the theme. The most useless invention wins.

The heart of all the games is a love of goofiness that can be shared with others, said Fortugno,.

“We make games silly, funny, likable, approachab­le,” he said. “We like to reward activities that cause people to do interesting things in public.”

“Come Out and Play” at Dumbo Archway [Water Street between Pearl and Adams streets in Dumbo, (646) 807–8131,]. July 20 from 1–10 p.m. Free.

Reach reporter Rose Adams at or by calling (718) 260–8306.
Playground: Many of the day-long festival’s games are never-before-seen inventions by game developers, giving attendees a taste of some of the fun games yet to hit the market.
Posted 12:00 am, July 17, 2019
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