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Simon Johnson

Simon Johnson is a game designer who specialises in enabling people to play in real, social spaces. He designs experiences to amaze, exhilarate, activate and promote understanding. Simon currently runs a startup called Free Ice Cream dedicated to making complex subjects playable.

In 2008 Simon co-founded Slingshot and was a company director for 7 years. Slingshot was a real world games company. They delivered real world gaming experiences to over 60,000 players worldwide. Slingshot was about offering a proposition that was simultaneously ridiculous and appealing. They were known primarily for 2.8 Hours Later. The original city-wide zombie chase game. It has inspired many others to take up gaming as a form. Along the way they also won several media innovation awards.

Way back in 2008 Simon set up iglab, the world’s first pervasive testing games lab. It was a means to popularise pervasive gaming as a form and to introduce new artists and designers to the possibilities offered by play, games and the city .

2008 also saw the inception of igfest; an international festival of street games and playful experiences. Simon directed and curated the festival for six years bringing in some of the finest games designers from around the world and working closely with the community of international peers.

Simon was a founder resident here a the Pervasive Media Studio. With the work and research Simon did here then he helped shape the agenda of the pervasive media studio toward the use of play as a strategic goal for urban development.

In 2016 Simon set up a new game studio Free Ice Cream. They are focused on making games that enable people to play with subjects that are in one way or another very complex. The first major commission saw us develop a game called 2030 Hive Mind. It is a real time policy simulation that sat at the core of The Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development AKA The Playable Conference.

Simon keep a poorly updated ludography of old games at s-j.io