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Times Square tourists learn that it's "Cruel 2 B Kind"


When the masterminds behind I love bees and Disaffected! band together to design a game, you know it's going to be good. This past weekend, Jane McGonigal (42 Entertainment) and Ian Bogost (Persuasive Games) premiered Cruel 2 B Kind, a self-described game of "benevolent assassination," during the Come Out & Play Festival in New York. And according to players, it made for a chaotic--yet oddly convivial--Saturday afternoon in Times Square.

In the tradition of street games like Assassin, Cruel 2 B Kind pits players in a "kill or be killed" scenario. Unlike Assassin, however, your weapons and weaknesses are not super soakers or water balloons, but random acts of kindness. Dennis Crowley, founder of, was one of over 100 players signed up to participate. At the start of the game, Dennis and his teammate received a text message with their weapon, "spectacular day!" and their weakness, which was "to be cheered on in a big way." Teams aren't told who their targets are - only that they will react to a particular act if it's their weakness.

Because the game is set in Times Square, players can have a difficult time telling the difference between tourists and targets. "The area is filled with tourists with maps," Dennis says, "and players holding [game] directions... It's very hard to tell the two apart, so you get a lot of us yelling 'have a spectacular day!' at tourists who look at you and are like, 'um, ok...'"

When a team successfully assassinates their target, the losing team gets incorporated into the winning team, and the group must work together to hunt down the remaining players in order to win. After 25 minutes of playing, Dennis's initial team of two had expanded to 20+ people. This was a mixed bag for the players, however, who felt as though they were losing interest in playing when they were part of a larger team. Still, with larger groups forming towards the end, the game became an enjoyable spectacle, if not an entirely fun play experience: "It was really interesting to see non-players reacting to a group of 20 yelling 'keep on trucking!!!' to another group of 20 across the street who then reply 'you're too kind!!!' in unison."

Jane McGonigal and Ian Bogost have designed Cruel 2 B Kind to be played anywhere, and hosted by anyone. An application for hosting can be found on the game's official site.

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