We make live games and interactive art: imaginary machines that make stories happen.
Serious Business is composed of creative lead and freelance games journalist Grant Howitt (@gshowitt) and game designer and speed-of-light news wizard Mary Hamilton (@newsmary). We work closely with a dedicated team of experts to produce and run our games.
We make games in real places with real people. The things we've made range from fun party pieces to straightforward run-and-gun combat to mad, wide-eyed terror to multi-layered tactical planning to more in-depth mystery scenarios - but whatever happens, we cut down on the "standing around talking" bit of live action games and skip straight to the "having fun" bit. We've been designing live games since 2006, and we know what makes for a good time. We work closely with clients, venues, crew and players to create experiences that are enjoyable for absolutely everyone involved.
Spirits Walk was a headline game for Fresh Air 14, a festival of games and play in Melbourne. Developed in collaboration with festival organisers Pop Up Playground, Spirits Walk invited players to step into a hidden world of strange spirits, sundry otherlings and dimensional curiosities, and there to shed their inhibitions, play with the spirits they discovered and eventually don a mask of their own making for a grand parade. All photos are courtesy of Pop Up Playground.
We ran Journey to the End of the Night in Sydney in February 2014. It's a fast-paced game in which you race your friends to find checkpoints around the city while avoiding the Chasers, who are out to catch you.
As part of the Science Museum's ZombieLab event, we ran a live interactive exhibit which puts players in the shoes of the Community Jury Initiative. In a world where the zombie condition is real, infectious and curable, we asked visitors to pass judgement on a cured ex-zombie and a zombie-killer. Find out more about The Trial and see the results here.
All images courtesy of the Science Museum.
In partnership with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, we created a game to tie in with the release of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter on Blu Ray. Taking over the MetalWorks club in Islington, we led teams of 30 to 60 brave prospective vampire hunters in last-ditch attempts to defend the grand opening night of their newly-formed Hunting Club from waves of hungry undead.
Adapting what we've learned from years of live game action, we created a game that allowed players to experience action, research, terror, tactical planning, and a fair bit of theatrics in a two-hour experience. We made a system that adapted to player choices, and ran two very different sessions thanks to the different decisions and priorities of the two player groups. Find out more about Hunting Club Live here.
The Gobstopper Job encourages people to take a proactive approach to confectionery logistics, using bombs, guns and disguises to pull off a sweet shop heist. We ran Gobstopper for the first time at Bristol's IGFest Fringe 2012. Find out more about The Gobstopper Job here.
Zombie LARP is the UK's first bespoke portable zombie apocalypse. We run large outbreak scenarios and spine-chilling small-group survival games, using NERF warfare and a lot of fake blood. We've been filling unusual buildings with zombies and getting people to fight their way out since 2006. In total we've run 12 or so events with player numbers from 3 at a time to 125 at once, using three different systems tailored to individual player groups and venues. Find out more about Zombie LARP.
Thanks to our specialist equipment, we offer a unique service to clients - we can rock up to your conference, convention or place of work with a bag full of NERF guns and get people creatively shooting at each other in minutes. In our Build-A-Game workshops we lead a crowd of potential players in designing a full, original ruleset amongst themselves and then refine and iterate it over the course of an hour or more of play. Players at Gamecamp devised a hostage taking game, while Kitacon-goers made a bomb-smuggling team game - and there's plenty of opportunity to develop something unique using our system and copious armoury.
Want us to talk about live games in a more formal setting? We can do that, and have done so in the past - as well as joint appearances with lots of NERF guns at two Gamecamps, Mary has spoken at The Story 2011, at Develop 2012 and at London IA, while Grant has run games and spoken at Bit of Alright. We mostly speak about live game theory and design, storytelling in games, emergent properties of game systems and the inner workings of foam-based weaponry.