Trickledown overview:
"Have guests fight over drinks in this game where no one knows they're playing a game"
20-200 players
30-60 mins
18+ yrs

Trickledown was designed for the opening of the Loco Comedy Film Festival at the BFI Southbank as a game that "a large crowd can play causally". Since the theme of the festival was "class", we used the existing free bar to create divisions in the crowd - and it doesn't get more casual than players not even being aware they're playing a game!

Game Files

You will need: An event. A small budget for a (limited) free bar. Guests. Lots of coloured stickers. Plenty of 'free drink' vouchers. Diplomatic and patient bar staff.

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"Trickledown tests whether wealth really does flow down using the metaphor of a free bar that only certain people can access."

If you want Trickledown for an event you're running, please get in touch so we can help you stage it to best effect.

About Trickledown

The organisers of the London Loco Comedy Film Festival approached us wanting a whole suite of games to cover various purposes during their 2015 festival. We did a fully playable boardgame for their programme but this was the main attraction: something for the opening event of the festival that would set the cheeky, funny, slightly subversive tone of the whole festival.

Getting a game to operate with a large, unknown crowd is a tricky prospect because you need a certain amount of "buy-in" from the players and frequently there are powerful social forces pulling people away from engaging in a game. So a crowd game has to be both complementary to the social situation and it needs to work even if there are people not playing it. Why not, we thought... why not just make everyone play a game and not tell them? Then they can't duck out and there's no conflict between the 'play cirlce' and 'real life' because the two become one and the same. In effect, everyone becomes a lab rat. Here's how it works:

  • 1. Ahead of the event you need to build the expectation - or at least the anticipation - of free drinks.
  • 2. As your guests arrive (or on the invites if given in advance), randomly* assign them a coloured sticker in the following ratios: 10% get Green, 40% get Yellow and the remaining 50% get Red
  • 3. Make sure your free bar is manned and stocked with three types of drink: Champagne, Wine and Water. There should be a visibly finite amount of these drinks available (be mean; especially with the Champagne!)
  • 4. As guests approach the bar, they should be immediately served without asking what they want. Green guests get Champagne; Yellow guests get Wine and Red guests get water. Should they prefer, green guests can also access wine and water and Yellow guests can access water. If guests ask for a drink they're not allowed, they should be politely refused and directed to the drink that they can have without letting on that the coloured sticker is the source of discrimintation.
  • 5. Furthermore, whenever Green and Yellow guests get served, they are handed a voucher that reads "Good for one free Champagne" or "Good for one free Wine". Even when they return, with or without a voucher, these guests get issued with a fresh voucher so they realise that - whether by accident or design - they can claim as much of their type of drink as they want.
  • 6. Do the privileged guests deliberately dilute their own share of better drinks by handing out these vouchers? Do the Red guests revolt and take over the bar? Does your event disintegrate before it's even begun in an angry, semi-drunken riot? Who knows... but it's fun to watch.

* Try playing around with this: If you have foreknowledge of your guests, you can try seeding a group of Red friends with one Green (or vice versa).

Creative Commons License This game is released under Creative Commons licence


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