Things to Think
Everyone will at some point need an escape from reality to think about life itself, even at big events and festivals. Ilon Lodewijks from the Netherlands has developed a way to do that, while playing a human sized board game.
By: Katrine Luna Kiltang
2 years ago, right before corona, a game with the most simple name was born - “Ting”. A lot of everyday things are painted in one color, all of them found in second-hand stores. It all started as a board game that lets children and adults of all ages play together. Ilon Lodewijks explains how it started as a board game where the player were to collect as many objects as possible, but has later on evolved into a game with more thought; “Then we came also with something more practical than people throwing with the things, and that if you want to make it more sustainable when you travel with your game then of course you can not find or buy 100 new things and paint them. So people had to take care of the objects, so the object had to be more important than just treat them as garbage” To this, Ilon concludes that the game has evolved to more of a performance, where “objects has voices”
Ilon Lodewijks is the developer of the game. She is an artist and is definitely not settling with one thing. With many projects coming and going, “Ting” is another idea that came to life. She is an independent artist doing jobs for theaters, commissions and freelancing. “You can live like that” she says with a giggle and a smile on her face. Of course being independent, everyday life gets a little more challenging. But with her newborn baby asleep in a sling, she proceeds to run Things at Aarhus Festive week.
The game is built up by a big round circle, split into 12 parts, meaning there can be 12 players at a time. Each of them is given a headset, to shut out noise from the world, and to make the player focus on the instructions that are given. A voice is telling the players what to do, and therefore there is no physical game master.
The game takes about 45 minutes, and rounds off with the players laying on the ground, in their own little space, listening to some calm music. After that, they are told to sit up, look at each other and leave the playing area in silence, making them enter the real world at their own pace.
Ilon explains how the music is chosen to fit the philosophical aspect of the game, where the player is coming to think about life and the body as an object, while still running around and collecting specific objects, placing them on a pillar connected to the little space they have.
A spectator can also grab a headset and join the listening, entering the world the players are in. Even without a headset, it is clear to see that the players have given themselves away to the instruction, unaware of curious eyes and the sounds everywhere around them.
Due to the ANC headphones, the games can be played anywhere at any festival or event, but that doesn’t necessarily attract more people. It takes time, concentration and engagement to give oneself away to close out the real world for some time. It is not rare for Ilon to see people leaving the game in an emotional state, which proves that they had given themselves away to the game and dedicated themselves to this experience. The players at the time didn’t seem bothered by “Suspekt” and “Tessa” being played on loudspeakers, in a nearby area.
Even though the game is meant to make the player think about life and can leave them in an emotional state, it can not be used as therapy. It is not meant to target the individual player, but more the things in life we as a whole can’t understand, e.g the fact that we one day will disappear, like the things we have just touched
In the end, Ilon talks about how the different aspects attract different people, which makes her think about making more art installations that include people more than just the visual. As an independent entrepreneur, Ilon can decide for herself where she wants this game to end. She strikes for sustainability, and could definitely see this game being used for education as well, as it fits in the sustainability goals.
For now, the game is in Danish, but when Ilon takes it with her back to the Netherlands in November, she will translate it herself. Hopefully, it will one day be translated in several other languages, and taken to those countries.