Midnight Madness Returns was an urban game in Manhattan on the night of October 6-7, 2012. From 7:45pm until 10:30am, 180 players on twenty teams raced to solve puzzles they found around the city. The project raised $1.4 million for the children’s charity Good Shepherd Services.
Our work, including fundraising materials, location scouting, and the game itself, extended across print, web, mobile, and site-specific platforms and engaged hundreds of players and dozens of volunteers. Puzzles, installations, and locations involved the rotating globe in the Daily News Building, a little-known pedestrian underpass in the middle of the night, controlling the lights of the Bank of America Tower, predicting the serial numbers of actual subway cars, and many more, ranging from “forgotten” or hidden New York to some of the most modern structures in the city.
Through an innovative cultural and charity funding mechanism involving a non-profit organization, a financial services firm, and a passionate commissioner, our game changed the fabric of New York City for one night – and ultimately helped our charity provide hurricane relief services elsewhere in the city later that month.
This is our only project about which users have said, “There aren’t too many things out there that stimulate multiple-percent life-quality boosts just by encountering them once.” (That was Elisha Wiesel, our collaborator on the reborn game, on playing past years’ games.) One player called the most recent game “an unforgettable experience – the memory of it ranking right up there with various great coming-of-age moments from years past.” Another called it “one of the most enjoyable evenings I have ever spent – and you know that is going to be a high bar.”
The game stretched across three zones of play during successively later parts of the night. That a resilient network of playful and cultural interventions in public space can power a similarly resilient network of humanitarian or productive interventions in public space is a metaphor for our studio’s approach.
Midnight Madness is a long-time collaboration with the game’s founder in New York, Mat Laibowitz, and many others, and this year also included new partners Elisha Wiesel and InsiderNYC.
Photography by Jason Fulford