Now Play This

Now Play This 2023

01 – 09 Apr 2023 (except 03 Apr)
£9/£6.50 conc
£27 family ticket (2 adults & up to 3 children)

Opening Times

Sat 01 Apr 11.00 - 18.00 
Sun 02 Apr 11.00 - 18.00
Mon 03 Apr CLOSED
Tue 04 Apr 12.00 - 18.00
Wed 05 Apr 12.00 - 18.00
Thu 06 Apr 12.00 - 18.00
Fri 07 Apr 12.00 - 20.00
Sat 08 Apr 11.00 - 18.00
Sun 09 Apr 11.00 - 17.00
New Wing

London’s leading festival of experimental games, Now Play This, returns to Somerset House this April, as part of the city-wide London Games Festival, showcasing the very latest in independent and experimental game design from across the globe. 

This year’s festival explores one of humanity’s most fundamental experiences through the lens of playful art: love. From family, friendship and romance to self-care, consent and grief, different forms of love will be explored through games, installations, activities and workshops. Inspired by American scholar and activist bell hooks’ seminal book All about Love, which insists on an ethical definition of love rooted in care and the championing of personal growth, Now Play This asks how we can treat each other in more loving ways. Taking place over nine days, the festival is slower and longer this year, encouraging gentle moments of contemplation about the many different forms of love that are featured.

Showcasing both a curated selection of works and submissions from the festival’s annual open call, highlights of the festival include a feminist dating simulator presenting the tactics of so-called pick-up artists designed by Angela Washko (The Game: The Game), a workshop exploring the ideas of universal care through games hosted by the authors of Verso Books' The Care Manifesto including Andreas Chatzidakis, Jamie Hakim, Jo Littler, Catherine Rottenberg, and Lynne Segal (The Care Collective) and a chance to ‘walk through’ different family homes and witness everyday moments of love that have been captured through 3D scanning in Finnish artist Timo Wright’s open world documentary (Everyday Vrealities). On Sundays, family-friendly sessions will take place based around three cutting edge construction play kits; Wiggel, Criaturas Infinitas and Just Add People. The colourful kits allow players to work together to create temporary structures and sculptures exploring the creative possibilities of collaboration.  

At the heart of the festival is the interactive installation Cushion Commons, created by artist and professor Valentina Karga in collaboration with a group of her students from University of Fine Arts of Hamburg. The installation is made up of handcrafted cushions, created from recycled materials and natural dyes, for festival goers to sit, lounge and play on, as well as providing a calm space for games, workshops and conversations.  

This year the festival will extend outdoors with Australian artists Helen Kwok and Chad Toprak transforming outside spaces of Somerset House with their installation Rainbow Paths, creating unique play spaces out of colourful branching paths filled with mini-games, hidden objects and winding routes.   

Some games in the festival contain explicit language, themes and content, which may not be suitable for younger players, and that some visitors may find distressing. A written content warning will accompany these games.

After playing this multifarious collection of games about love in all its forms, even someone who’s been playing games for their whole life may look at them a little differently.

The Guardian


Visitors with a Festival Pass receive unlimited entry to the interactive exhibition across the run as well as events. 


Tickets to events cost £6 and can be purchased individually or when you book your Now Play This tickets. Festival Pass holders can attend for no additional fee. 

FRI 07 APR 20.00 - 21.30

Join Alistair Aitcheson for a live show where everybody in the room gets to join in. Using Alistair’s specially designed app, the audience will explore everything from the schmaltzy to the absurd in love. Go on a date with an inanimate object! Fall in love with an abstract concept! Led by audience input, Alistair will construct Valentines, write love poems and build the perfect date, before finally casting the audience created characters to play out interactive first dates!

SAT 08 APR 18.00 - 19.00
Artist Laurence Young and his mother Maria Pattinson reflect on how teaching and learning the notoriously difficult game Elden Ring changed their relationship. While traversing The Lands Between, mother and son share touching insights into the ways that games can bring us together, and how the act of forging into unknown territory can be a radical act of love.