"CulverLand" is a temporary artwork and functioning game created by John Derevlany, an artist/game designer and Culver City resident for nearly 10 years.
It was funded by an arts grant from the City of Culver City, and installed as part of the October 2010 IndieCade, the International Festival of Independent Games, scheduled to take place in Culver City.
It will be up from approximately September 28 - November 1, 2010. Rules are painted on the gameboard itself. They are also available here.
In May 2010, the City of Culver City put out a Request for Proposals for a temporary artwork to coincide with IndieCade. The Festival assembled a panel of art and gaming experts from various universities to judge the multiple sumbissions. The panel recommended "IndieCade" be approved by the City.
The concept of "CulverLand" is basically "Candyland meets Culver City traffic." Game designer John Derevlany initially sought to create a game in the downtown area that was colorful, incredibly simple, could function without any additional materials other than those in the immediate vicinity, and somehow celebrated the City of Culver City.
The result: a giant game board with gameplay driven by the constant flow of traffic through our town. While Culver City has a long and distinguished role in the development of motion pictures and other exciting industries, the "Heart of Screenland" (as the City is known) is also the heart of a major transportation corridor. Whether we like it or not, hundreds of thousands of cars drive through out city each day. It was time to have some fun with all these passing vehicles.
It also didn't hurt that John Derevlany has a 5-year old who is obsessed with the game "Candyland," and a 12-year old who is obsessed with the car-watching game called "Punch-Buggy." In her version of this game, the first one to see a VW Beetle passing by on the street shouts "Punch-buggy!" and punches the other person as hard as they can.
In some ways, "CulverLand" is sort of a less-violent iteration of "Punch-buggy."
The initial concept presented (and approved) by the Culver City Cultural Affairs Commission in July 2010 was on a much granders scale than the current installation. In fact, it was intended to a turn a good portion of the ENTIRE downtown into a gameboard.
The game was 642 feet long, stretching down both sides of Culver Blvd. from the Culver Hotel and Main Street to the Trader Joes and Media Park on Ince Blvd. It was enormous. (A pdf of the initial proposal can be found here.)
But there were several concerns about the safety of players having to cross streets (and the lights by Trader Joes take FOREVER to change). Plus, when the paints were tested on the sidewalks by Trader Joes, they didn't actually stick that well, which was really a bit of a problem. There were some paints that DID stick, but they were very diffcult to remove, which worked against the concept of this being a "temporary" artwork.
So the game was reduced in size to it's current location and configuration on the asphalt sidewalk at Culver Blvd. and Main Street. The paint stuck well here, and the game had a lot more visual coherence. Plus, this is a temporary sidewalk that will be removed in a few years when the nearby vacant lot (known as "Parcel B") is developed into retail, commercial, and park space.
The game was approved by the City Council on August 2, with a budget of "up to $4500" to cover the expenses of installation.
Further adjustments to the board occurred during playtesting with the creator and his kids Ian and Ava. Using handheld paper mockups of the board game, the testers played the game at its location on several different occasions, both weekdays and weekends, watching the passing traffic. It soon became clear that certain colors (such as green) were almost impossible to find, and the motorcycle "wild card" was an extremely valuable rule.
Below is the final color combination. Greens were reduced, as were some blues and reds. The "easy colors -- black, white, gray -- are frontloaded, while there are more difficult colors (red, blue, green) just before the end of the game.
Next... Production and Installation.