The Come Out and Play Festival is a street games fesitval dedicated to exploring new styles of games and play.

Come Out & Play 2006 in New York City

Cruel 2 B Kind
Cruel 2 B Kind is a game of benevolent assassination. At the beginning of the game, you and a partner-in-crime are assigned a secret weapon. To onlookers, it will seem like a random act of kindness. But to a select group of other players, the seemingly benevolent gesture is a deadly maneuver that will bring them to their knees.

Location: Broadway, between 48th and 58th
# of players: 150
Duration: 90 minutes, plus a post-game Assassinsí Picnic, Debriefing and Awards Ceremony in Central Park

Cruel 2 B Kind is a game of benevolent assassination.

At the beginning of the game, you and a partner-in-crime are assigned a secret weapon. To onlookers, it will seem like a random act of kindness. But to a select group of other players, the seemingly benevolent gesture is a deadly maneuver that will bring them to their knees.

Some players will be slayed by a serenade. Others will be killed by a compliment. You and your partner might be taken down by an innocent group cheer.

You will be given no information about your targets. No name, no photo, nothing but the guarantee that they will remain within the outdoor game boundaries during the designated playing time. Anyone you encounter could be your target. The only way to find out is to attack them with your secret weapon.

Watch out: The hunter is also the hunted. At the beginning of the game, you and your partner will also be assigned your own secret weakness. Other pairs of players have been given your secret weakness as their secret weapon, and theyíre coming to get you. Anything out of the ordinary you do to assassinate YOUR targets may reveal your own secret identity to the other players who want you dead.

As targets are successfully assassinated, the dead players join forces with their killers to continue stalking the surviving players. The teams grow bigger and bigger until two final mobs of benevolent assassins descend upon each other for a spectacular, climactic kill.

Will innocents be caught in the cross-fire? Oh, yes. But when your secret weapon is a random act of kindness, itís only cruel to be kind to other players.

Download the pocket-guide to benevolent assassination (PDF) The Rules
Here, we explain the basic rules of the game, from start to finish. Your Benevolent Assassinís Guide will explain the finer points of how to interact with other players and with the gameís email system during live play.

The game begins with all assassins working in teams of two.

  • You and your partner must stay together at all times.
  • You are not permitted to split up and work independently.
  • When you attack a target, you must both participate in the attack.
  • You and your partner are scored as a team. The teams with the highest point totals at the end of the game receive Top Assassin awards.

Public Spaces
You and your partner must remain within the formal game boundaries for the entire game.

  • You must stay in public spaces.
  • If the game is an outdoor game, you must remain outdoors for the entire game.
  • You cannot, for example, get inside any vehicles with doors, or enter any buildings.

Benevolent Attacks
At the start of the game, each team is assigned via text message a secret weapon, a secret weakness, and a surrender code.

  • Your secret weapon is the act of kindness you perform on suspected targets. Example: Praise your targetsí shoes. If you perform this weapon on the correct target, they will surrender. If you perform this weapon on other players who are not your target, they will say "You are too kind." If you perform this weapon on non-targets well, we have no idea what might happen!
  • Your secret weakness is the act of kindness that, if performed upon you, kills you. Example: Killed by a birthday serenade. You therefore want to avoid giving other players an opportunity to be kind to you. If you are attacked by a team wielding a weapon that matches your weakness, you must acknowledge the successful assassination and reveal your surrender code. If you are attacked by a team deploying the wrong weapon (not your secret weakness), you are still alive. However, you must tell them "You are too kind" so that they know they have at least successfully identified other players.
  • Your surrender code is the single word that you must reveal to all of the players who have assassinated you. When you successfully assassinate other teams, you must demand their surrender code. Successful assassins will text the surrender code to the game system. Thatís how the game knows who is dead, who killed them, and who gets the points.

You will have no idea who your target is.

  • You will not be given a name or photograph of your target.
  • You will only know that they will be outdoors, in the public spaces of the game area, for the entire duration of the game.
  • You must deploy your weapon on everyone you suspect of being other players; only then will you discover if you have completed an assassination.

Because killed teams form alliances with their killers, your targets (as well as the groups trying to kill you) will be increasing in size throughout the game.

  • At the start of the game, all targets consist of two-player teams.
  • However, half an hour into the game, you may have to attack an alliance of twelve players. And you may be hunted by an alliance of twenty players!
  • Weapons must be deployed on a majority of the entire allied group that you are targeting. You cannot, for instance, praise the shoes of just one player. You must praise the entire groupís shoes.

Up to 20 different weapons and weaknesses will be in play during the game.

  • Each weapon and weakness are assigned to multiple teams.
  • Therefore, when the game begins, your team will have several viable targets.
  • However, you will also have an equal number of teams hunting for you!

When a team is killed, it joins forces with its killers.

  • The successful assassins and their victims form a new alliance.
  • The alliance keeps the secret weakness of the successful assassins, who have not been killed yet.
  • The alliance adopts the secret weapon of the killed team, who has not yet found their target.
  • The new alliance must stay together at all times, for the rest of the game.
  • All members of the alliance must participate in future attacks. They must ALL perform the deadly act of kindness, simultaneously.
  • As more teams are killed and subsumed into new alliances, the alliances will group larger and larger. For instance, an alliance of four teams may successfully assassinate an alliance of six teams, creating a new alliance of ten teams.

There are three ways to earn points.

  • Kill points: Your team receives 100 points for each successful kill. You can continue earning kill points even after your team has been assassinated, by joining forces with the team that killed you. To earn points for a kill, text the dead teamís surrender code to the game system. All teams participating in the kill can earn points, but only if they text the code.
  • Survival points: Your team receives 25 points each time another team is killed BEFORE you are killed. You stop receiving survival points as soon as your team is assassinated.
  • Spy points: You are encouraged to take photos and videos during live gameplay of your assassination efforts. At the debriefing party, submit your evidence. 25 points are awarded for each outstanding piece of evidence, for up to 200 points total per team.

The game ends in one of two ways whichever happens first:

  • A climactic bloodbath: Only two alliances are left, and one successfully assassinates the other. The players in the final, successful group of assassins are the winners. The players in the final, killed group are the losers.
  • Saved by the bell: The game time runs out with multiple surviving alliances. In this scenario, there is no winner; however Top Assassin awards are still given out at the debriefing.

Designers: Jane McGonigal, Ian Bogost

Jane McGonigal is a lead game designer for 42 Entertainment and a games researcher.

As a lead designer and community architect for alternate reality games such as I Love Bees and Last Call Poker, her work has been honored by awards from the International Game Developers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and in the New York Timesí Year in Review.

Her experimental research games have been produced and exhibited internationally, most recently at the International Symposium for Electronic Arts (2006), the Los Angeles Museum for Contemporary Art (2005), and the Whitney Museum of Artís digital artport (2005).

Her published research, which focuses on design for massively-scaled collaboration, includes recent articles for the 2006 MIT Press collection Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media, the Journal of Modern Drama, and the Vectors Journal of Culture and Technology.

McGonigal recently finished her Ph.D. in performance studies from the University of California at Berkeley, where her dissertation "This Might Be a Game: Ubiquitous Play and Performance at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century" explores the intersection of ubiquitous and pervasive computing with experimental game design.

McGonigal can be contacted at jane(at)cruelgame(dot)com.

Ian Bogost is a game designer and game researcher. He is Assistant Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Founding Partner at Persuasive Games, a game studio that designs, builds, and distributes videogames for persuasion, instruction, and activism.

Bogost is the author of Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism (MIT Press, 2006), Persuasive Games: Videogames and Procedural Rhetoric (forthcoming in spring 2007 from MIT Press), co-editor (with Matteo Bittanti) of Ludologica Retro: Vintage Arcade Games 1972-1984 (Costa & Nolan), and author of numerous other books, articles, and presentations on videogames, digital media, literature, and film. Bogost is also co-editor (with Gonzalo Frasca) at Water Cooler Games, the online resource about videogames with an agenda. His games about political and social issues have been exhibited internationally and are frequently featured in the popular press.

Bogost holds a BA in Philosophy and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and an MA and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Bogost can be contacted at ian(at)cruelgame(dot)com.