Tuesday 7 October 2014

Tap Happy Sabotage at the EGX Leftfield Collection

It's been some journey, hasn't it? Since January I've taken Tap Happy Sabotage to London, Bristol, Brighton, Birmingham, Bletchley Park, Berlin (the letter B is popular!) and even Gamecom in Cologne. Not more than a couple of weeks ago it was winging it's way back to London for EGX 2014 at Earl's Court.

Tap Happy Sabotage was fortunate enough to be selected as part of the Leftfield Collection, which saw it played by roughly 600 people over the course of 6 days. Of course, there was plenty of the pushing and shoving I built the game to encourage, and the competitive spirit seemed to bubble over with most groups.

Being able to get people to that competitive level so quickly has been something I've been working on with each iteration, and every show I take it to I notice new things about how people interact with the game that I'll tweak for the next version. In the early days if the game started with more than 4 people players had a tendency to drop out quickly, but due to various changes usually if you start with 8 players you'll keep all 8 playing to the bitter end. I've worked hard on the psychology of motivating players to feel like they could win - and could probably fill out a whole blog post with it - so it's reassuring to see that effort pay off.

Of course, the most rewarding part of any show like this is the people who come back to play a second (or third) time, often with friends in tow.

We had players young and old, individuals taking on old hands like myself (we often lost, which from a design perspective is very reassuring!), groups of six and seven, and even the Gadget Show's Jason Bradbury who seemed rather taken with the game's approach to the big screen tech!

To make sure we always got a good game we'd generally pit strangers against each other, rather than making groups wait for others to finish. One of the real surprises of Tap Happy Sabotage is how happy players are to compete with people they don't know. I like to think we helped people make friends - ironically, by encouraging them to be jerks to each other!

At these kinds of trade shows, it always pays to have good friends to help man the stand, and Leon, Simon and Jamie all did fantastic jobs. Massive thank you to all of you! Of course, a big thanks should also go to David Hayward, the curator, for giving us this opportunity and managing what was a fantastic set-up, and Megan King from Indigo Pearl, who helped build PR for the Leftfield collection and operate the stands.

Me and my brother, James (left), who stepped up to the plate to help demo the game!
The next event on the Tap Happy Sabotage calendar is GameCity 9 in Nottingham, where there will be a very special new version of the game. Watch this space!