Happy Hockey

The TIFF digiPlaySpace opened this past week at the Lightbox and is even more open and colourful than the previous year’s instalment (open longer, as well).

One of the most interesting aspects of the digiPlaySpace is how open the space can be even when the gallery is not yet being used. For in addition to the interactive exhibit Marshmallow Clouds, a screen in the Lightbox wall finds the interactive video game Happy Hockey, which is a take on Blades of Steel and other classic hockey games. Yet fascinatingly, the creators of Happy Hockey are not Canadian, as would be expected. Instead, they are two Germans- Johannes Kristmann and Alexander Pieper. The latter, dressed in a Ghostbusters hat, amazingly, was experiencing his first ever trip to North America in order to exhibit Happy Hockey.

Said Pieper, of his interactive Happy Hockey, it’s not so much of a net, but “an explosive thing you have to hit”. In addition, the puck is not something to be held, but instead more of a projective. Therefore, the players need to pay close attention to which direction they face, in order to shoot in the direction of the proper goal.

Happy Hockey can be played one on one, or with additional players playing in team game. The number of the individual player is listed on the screen, and it corresponds to the one on the phone. All that a player needs is a smartphone and playing partner, and it’s game on! “The good thing is that you can make your own strategies, fool the other team and such”, advises Pieper.

The genesis of the project was a slippery ice mechanism, and from there came the idea for ice skating, transitioning well into hockey, which Pieper only knew a little from the NHL games (sadly, the game doesn’t allow fighting or making Gretzky’s head bleed, which is perhaps why it’s HAPPY Hockey).

Pieper concluded by saying “We had a dream to take the game to Canada and now it’s here”. So help Pieper follow his dream and play a game of Happy Hockey, perhaps while waiting in line to see a film at the Lightbox.

The TIFF digiPlaySpace runs until April 24th.

Charles Trapunski is a tutor and writer based out of Toronto. He spends much of his time editing the works of others, so he finds it refreshing to author his own ideas. He believes that Back to the Future is the Platonic Ideal of a Hollywood film.

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