The Road to Play NYC – Good Graffiti

The Road to Play NYC – Good Graffiti

One of my favorite discoveries of last year’s Play NYC was Salmon Roll, an instillation “Graffiti Game” made by Andy Wallace and Jane Friedhoff, both of Death By Audio Arcade. This was a game projected on, and designed for, a wall of the exhibition hall and inspired by Ice Cold Beer. We later talked with Andy and Jane about instillation games, so if want to know more check out our interview:

Well, Graffiti Games are back in a MASSIVE way at the second year of Play NYC: Playcrafting announced earlier this week that they have partnered with the IGDA Foundation and the Bigglesworth Family Foundation to commission installations inside each of the six opera boxes that frame Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom stage. These 6 new “Graffiti Game” installations are being created by  first-generation immigrant game developers now based in New York as a way to “celebrate what makes New York City and the American gaming industry so special”.

Now, we don’t know a lot about what these creators are cooking up for this year’s Graffiti Games, but I still wanted to highlight these folks and see if I couldn’t learn a little something about their game dev ideas. So in this Road to Play NYC Feature, I’ve included the descriptions we do have of the games to be displayed at Play NYC on August 11th, but I have also delved into some of the work these developers have already done and given you a chance to check out an incredibly diverse range of fun and innovative indie games.

Pilar Aranda Bada – from Valencia, Spain


The Llama Express by Pilar Aranda and Saúl Peña Gamero – A lighthearted game in which players ride a train through the fictional country of Esperú, feeding hungry llamas encountered along the way with traditional Hispanic food from the train.

Pilar’s work in Virtual and Augmented reality in surprisingly diverse, and many of these projects have been designed with a real world application or benefit in mind. She was part of the team that won the Most Ridiculous Game award at the 2017 NY VR Game Jam with MTA Summer of Hella metro-themed surrealist VR game. She was sole developer of The Polysea, a small VR game where you act as Poseidon and have to save the mythical sailor Jason and it’s crew away from the Kraken. And, in a mere 3 weeks, she developed Super Jump Robo Star, a lighthearted game designed to help children and adults stay physically active.

Saul Pena Gamero – from Lima, Peru

The Llama Express by Pilar Aranda and Saúl Peña Gamero – A lighthearted game in which players ride a train through the fictional country of Esperú, feeding hungry llamas encountered along the way with traditional Hispanic food from the train.

There’s not a ton of information out there on the past work of Saul Pena Gamero. Saul is part of the Glimpse Group, a Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality company, comprised of multiple VR and AR software & services start-ups, and designed with the specific purpose of cultivating entrepreneurs in the VR/AR industry. He’s working with Pilar on The Llama Express, which sound adorable and hunger-inducing all at the same time.

Prashast Thapan – from New Delhi, India

Home Stretch by Prashast Thapan – An arcade-style racing game in which a player will race through a city reminiscent of New Delhi to obtain a visa, and then head to New York. During their travels, obstacles will pile up and the trip becomes progressively more difficult.

Prashast has crafted some truly bizarre and surreal experiences. He’s connected with Babycastles, the New York based Indie Arcade and Gallery, which we’ve mentioned before on Indie Hangover, and will no doubt mention again. He’s actually the curator of a show titled “Multiplay” which opened yesterday and is on through August 5th, which is showcasing a whole slew of different digital creations.

Last November, he was part of the team that created As Smooth As Possible for the Playcrafting Indie Game Jam Presented by Schick Hydro that was a big draw at The Game Awards 2017. In that game, you play as your legs on a hoverboard/segway, embarking on a quest to clear all the hair from a bunch of unique skin zones. If that’s not funky enough for you, he also worked on a game called Static Lagoon, which is about a world without walls, stuck in a loop where windows of opportunity appear over time that create new possibilities and change the course of the game.

Maria Mishurenko and Gordey Chernyy – from West Kazakhstan


Bizarre Barber by Maria Mishurenko and Gordey Chernyy – Players become barbers in a surreal shop in which cutting clients’ hair helps to relax anxieties and disturbing thoughts.

I’m going to talk about Maria Mishurenko and Gordey Cherny together simply because there’s so much overlap in their work: They’ve collaborated on a huge number of projects and have created some truly amazing digital landscapes.

Mind Roomie is a free game that teaches children and young adults the foundations of mindfulness practice. Unlike most games, Mind Roomie encourages increasingly slow movements until the player is fully still. However, I think it is probably Echoing Ego that is the best indicator of what we might get from the graffiti games at Play NYC. Echoing Ego is a performance installation created to let you “virtually dissect” your ego, and discover its component parts. It’s vibrant, thought provoking and an incredibly interesting way for games to go.

Maria Mishurenko seems to focus on something not often highligted in games: stillness and mindfullness. Awere is a gamified learning VR experience focused on enjoyable deep breathing and the ability to incorporate biofeedback that takes place in abstract environment, inhabited by animated creatures, adapts and responds to each player’s breathing patterns in real-time.

A lot of Gordey’s work seems to have focused on live, augmented reality visual. The augmented reality application he and Maria crafted for live Kia Forte «To the moon» event is a really cool infinite runner that has a super hi-tech style, which worked with a a live model of the car Kia Forte, set against a projected environment. Philosopharium, a point-and-click adventure puzzle game designed to teach the core concepts of Eastern philosophy, is currently a work in progress, but looks super cool and I’ve definately got my eyes on it.

Yuxin Gao – from Hohhot City, China


Yuxin’s profiles describe herself as focusing on “narrative puzzle games”, which is exactly my jam, so I think I might be most lookign forward to seeing what she creates at Play NYC. Her previous work is equal parts hilariou and innovative: She was part of the team that created  It’s Always Cool to Save The Chickens, A 1 minute Click and Drag puzzle game made for LD 38 game jam which may just have one of the best titles ever. She also designed Oath, a super interesting alt-ware tabletop game for 2 to 4 players with John Bruneau. Oath may be inspired by ancient politics and war, but it looks like something out of Cyberpunk and is one of the coolest looking games I’ve seen in a long time. Despite the high price tag of the game, I’m seriously considering picking it up for some play time.

Kurt Young – from Beijing, China

A Hero’s Journey by Kurt Young – A VR game in which players first design an environment, choose a hero, a prince or princess and a villain and watch a story unfold. Players need to use either VR or a projector to battle through obstacles the game contains.

Kurt Young is part of the Mokuni Games team. He’s been involved in the development on Food Conga,  A game casting you as a chef tasked with collecting matching food to form an edible conga line and then to lead that gastronomical conga line to your hungry patrons. I saw Food Conga last year at the first Play NYC, and it was great fun to play. However, I am many levels more intrigued by Mokuni Games current Project: Robot in the Rain. Robot in The Rain is an endless runner where you are cast as a robot on a mission to save a truck full of baby chick before they’re eaten. Problem? It’s raining, and you’re not water proof. You’ll have to use your umbrella to shield yourself from the rain if you’re going to save those baby chicken. It’s a fantastic concept, a neat twist of the classic formula and a potentially interesting mechanic.

Jose Zambrano –  from Puerto la Cruz, Venezuela


Jose is the 3D Art Lead at Stuido Studios, a team that have created a fantastic diversity of games that leaves with no idea of what to expect for his Instillation!

The Take is a local hotseat VR game where two players are cast as competing spies, racing against the clock to hide or find classified intelligence while setting or avoiding traps for their opponent. This is all done in an amazing Golden Age of Comics Aesthetic that works perfectly with the classic spy capper vibe. Going in an entirely different direction, Don’t Look Away is a psychological horror VR experience which pits you against a mysterious entity, bent on breaking down your mind, body, and soul before it feeds upon you. You’re strapped to a chair, bound and gagged, so you only have a limited ability to reach around for what’s within your grasp in Don’t Look Away, which is a very interesting mechanical decision to make. Finally, Stuido Studios have also made Net Brutality, which besides having a fantastic title, is a minimalist multiplayer sports game in which teams of players try to chain together energy charges along a series of nodes to their goals.

It’s my hope that this look at this group of graffiti game developers has sparked you interest in some of their past games, maybe even prompted you to buy or download one or two!

Stay tuned, as we’ll ramping up our previews of the indie game’s you can expect to find at this year’s Play NYC as the event approaches!

Play NYC 2018 will be taking place August 11th and 12th, at its new venue, The Manhattan Center, in New York City, from 10 am to 8 pm daily.
Tickets are on sale now and start at $30 per person.

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Editor-in-Chief of With a soft spot for epics, sagas and tales of all types, Jacob approaches games as ways to tell stories. He's particularly interested in indie games because of the freedom they have to tell different stories, often in more interesting and innovative ways than Triple A titles.