My daughter (and business partner), Amy, is a Landscape Architect and Urban Designer. She has a passion for running events that activate public space. One day, almost four years ago, Amy came up with a concept that she pitched to the Brisbane City Council. She took a look at the recently re-developed and much-maligned King George Square and proposed a monthly Games Night event. Whilst most critics panned the KGS redevelopment as a hot and dry desert in the city, Amy saw an opportunity so (a) activate KGS, and (b) provide an opportunity for people to socialise in a fun, free and safe activity. And the Brisbane City Council agreed with her. Thus Games Night @ King George Square was born.
And so back to me (Dad). I had the shed big enough to make Giant Scrabble and Giant Chinese Checkers (both of which weren't available at the time). I also had the trailer to take all the games, and the time to help her out with her vision. Being a slightly cynical Dad, I gave it 3 months before it would become too hard. I made three fundamental mistakes in my rushed judgement. (1) I underestimated the tenacity of my daughter, (2) I had no idea how popular the concept would become, and (3) I could see the activation opportunity; I just didn't get the socialisation side of things.
And so on that first Thursday evening the crowds flocked in. Lot's of happy people enjoying themselves. After a while I stood back to watch. My eyes drifted over to our Giant Scrabble game. Now our Giant Scrabble game encourages groups of people to collaborate in teams to play each side. Looking back at the Giant Scrabble game I saw lots of people working together in groups trying to make words. And then that "light-bulb" moment hit me. There on one side, working together, were two men. One was clearly a businessman on his way home at the end of his working day. I could tell he was set to stay because his briefcase was on the ground. And beside him was clearly a homeless man, dressed in dirty clothes. In everyday life these two men probably wouldn't have associated with each other, yet here they were working together; collaborating; to come up with a strategy to wake words.
It was truly a light-bulb moment for me. I now "got it", and to this day I still have that passion for seeing the power of our Giant Games to bring people together to socialise in a safe, fun and friendly environment. I never get tired of seeing peoples eyes light up when they first see our Giant Games on display; of seeing a father showing his daughter how to play Chess using our Giant Chess game; of seeing kids who have been subject to abuse early in their life, and becoming insular and withdrawn, completely changing and coming out of their shell over a game of Giant Connect Four; of seeing two kids from completely different backgrounds enjoying a laugh together whilst playing Giant Jenga.
So that's how we started. More about our journey next time.