Fictitious Sports

For the bet­ter part of a year I have been pre­oc­cu­pied with the thought: if you were to design a game in the land­scape, what kind of game should it be? And I mean should” in a moral fash­ion, know­ing that a game is not only a pas­time, but, as the New Games move­ment rec­og­nized, an argu­ment about how to be in and see the world.

koralagundi rendering
Game rendering by Bhavana Koralagundi.

I have the priv­i­lege of a job that allows me to enlist oth­ers to explore thoughts like that, so I asked the first-year grad­u­ate stu­dents to join me. Our site was the for­mer Dor­ri­an Com­mons, a lit­tle park that was recent­ly con­vert­ed to a park­ing lot to address the whol­ly fab­ri­cat­ed lack of park­ing in down­town Colum­bus. Using some of the tools I have used with stu­dents before, we imag­ined chang­ing the site to a new land­scape that retained the max­i­mum of asphalt and sub-base in new forms, while actu­al­ly recharg­ing stormwa­ter instead of shunt­ing it into an over-sized pipe. 

thaw plan
SIte plan by J.J. Thaw.

The stu­dents then invent­ed a new land­scape game, work­ing inside a com­i­cal­ly long series of eth­i­cal guide­lines I gave them (max­i­mize the pos­si­bil­i­ty for peo­ple of dif­fer­ent sizes, ages, gen­ders, incomes, and mobil­i­ties to play togeth­er; build play off land­forms; min­i­mize injury while involv­ing phys­i­cal exer­tion; min­i­mize envi­ron­men­tal dis­tur­bance; you get the idea). The result is some­where between boc­ce, golf, and man­cala. If we define a good idea in land­scape as one work­able IRL, I think this game is the best idea that has come out of any of my stu­dios; and I would be hap­py in five years to see every pick­le­baller doing this instead on the nation’s sim­i­lar­ly under­uti­lized lots.

givens plan
Site plan by Caressa Givens.

Final­ly, each stu­dent made their own pur­pose-built land­scape to tile onto the site. What the site lost in coher­ence it gained in vibran­cy – at least, I think so! For our final review, we were lucky to get first-rate review­ers in Kel­ley Lemon and Mar­tin Hogue, who con­firmed what I had already sus­pect­ed – it is a fine group of design­ers and no doubt des­tined for good things.

khorshidi plan
Composite plan by Kamran Khorshidi, including design work by Kate Broussard, Ish Gad, Gizem Ozer, Catherine Rolnicki, and Ruby White as well as Givens, Khorshidi, Koralagundi, and Thaw.

Also! You may see slight changes and over­all improve­ments to the site, cour­tesy of Gina Giampao­lo, who also ward­ed off impend­ing doom on the back-end. Such fea­tures include: an index that does not stop at F,” the abil­i­ty to post love­ly GIFs like the ones that graced the last entry, and a new type­face that is not hideous­ly expen­sive to license. Thank you, Gina!

(May 2023)