Pittsburgh, City of . . .

Pittsburgh is known as the City of Champions, sometimes as the City of Pierogies, and as a friend from Ireland once described it, “a city of bridges and houses on hills”.  But did you know that Pittsburgh is also a City of Play?

City of Play started out as an annual games festival originated by Obscure Games and has grown to a project that constantly explores opportunities for us Pittsburghers to connect with our city and each other.  City of Play is designing ways our city can be more friendly and engaging by using “game mechanics and playful aesthetics.”

The first City of Play project, We Are Here, was recently awarded funding from the Sprout Fund as part of the SiX Connect Your City program. We Are Here is a project to connect citizens with “Third Places,” natural community gathering places that create a sense of belonging and encourage community engagement. We Are Here connects physical and virtual communities through an online map of Pittsburgh Third Places and colorful wayfinding signs that lead citizens to them. By guiding citizens to a Third Place in a nearby neighborhood, We Are Here leads strangers to a place where they are welcomed as friends, and invited to be a part of the community. Look for We Are Here to debut later in the spring.

City of Play is also looking for new projects from you.  Have you and your friends been talking about ways to make the parking chair phenomenon more neighborly? Or how to take advantage of Pittsburghers’ innate helpfulness in giving directions, especially if they’re based on landmarks?  Check here to see if your idea meets the criteria and submit it.

If you are wondering if City of Play is still in the festival business, yes, it is.  Its 2013 season starts May 19th with The City Spree.  This city-wide race requires no, zero, zip months of physical training.  There isn’t even an official course, except the one that you will make as you or your group race to discover connections between city neighborhoods.  Learn more here.

Don’t wait until you have a design project or until The City Spree to connect with your Pittsburgh neighbors.  Every Wednesday night, Obscure Games hosts Pub Games at Hambones in Lawrenceville. All are welcome and games are played according to a weekly theme; this week it’s drawing games (think Pictionary, Cranium, and the Obscure Games’ original, “I Can’t Draw”). You can get a schedule of game night themes here.  We’re sorry we missed noisy games a few weeks ago because we can’t think of a better combination than Hungry Hungry Hippos and beer.

PLAY Parlour endorses gaming as a means to explore and connect, and we’re especially excited that City of Play uses our own town as the platform.  We will be taking advantage of what Pittsburgh has to offer through City of Play, beyond great sports, waterfronts and bridges, and delicious potato and cheese-filled dumplings.

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