Guixot de 8 is a Spanish company that make street games. Using recycled materials, they make original games in their workshop in Barcelona. They pack the games into a van and go wherever they are invited. They then set up the games in the street and play with anyone who wants to try their hand.
Guixot de 8, led by creative force Joan Rovira, have been making street games since 1991. They have been to 30 countries in all 5 continents. Joan says they have made about 300 games which has given new life to about 10 tons of scrap!
Spain has a deep-rooted love of games in the street. These are usually well-known, popular games – and also ‘cucan
a’ which involve endless variations of climbing up, or along. a greasy pole in celebration of different festivals and other special occasions in small towns across Spain! But Guixot de 8 were the first to create sets of original games and turn them into a street show.
Since then, many more companies dedicated to street games have emerged – Tombs Creatius, Toc de Fusta, Itinerània, Katakrak and others. Talking with Joan, he explains that the best companies have developed their own style such as games made of wood, or traditional games made in giant versions for the street.
I have seen many of these street games in different places and they are always a magnet for children and adults alike. It is lovely for anyone, and perhaps especially an adult, to stop and play in the street with other people. It is genuine fun, completely absorbing. And easy to find that you have been very happily distracted from whatever else you may have been doing!
There is something timeless about these street games. They are not new, shiny, the latest thing, not digital, not even electric. Each one is carefully made by hand and is quite beautiful and special, based on simple physical and mechanical principles. I asked Joan why, in a time when people have access to so many digital games, he thinks people find these hand-made street games so appealing.
Joan Rovira: ‘I think it’s because they are an alternative to screen games. I think that playing with simple physics is attractive. Physics has a poetry that captivates you. Also, the games seem easy but they are not! It makes people keep trying, over and over again. When playing the games, people are all children – just of different heights!’
One of the things I love about these games is that you just start playing them with people you don’t know. They are so much larger than the games you might have at home, so they contain an implicit invitation to play with them as a community.
Joan says that they often create a very trusting relationship between people. ‘Sometimes, someone takes a person’s bag, and then passes it to another person to keep, whilst the owner is playing. This is a bit unthinkable in current times, but it has happened many times’.
‘People also learn from each other – passing on what they have learned from the person playing before. People give each other advice and applaud those who succeed. People will chase after a ball that has fallen out of the game for others’.
‘People laugh together, people smile, people think.’
So often at Bell Square, people say the events bring people together and make them feel connected to others in their community.
Let’s take our public space and play games together! See you on Saturday, 4 November!