Mystery of the Beast (Kaunas 2022 opening game)

Title: Mystery of the Beast (urban game for the opening of Kaunas 2022)

Client: Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022, NGO

Location: Kaunas, Lithuania

Urban game for the opening of Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022, by | Photo: Martynas Plepys.

Challenge / Task: As soon as the main event of the European Capital of Culture 2o22 opening ends, Kaunas greets its visitors and inhabitants. How do we connect the opening show with the city as an event? How do we encourage big audiences to navigate the city and its events in smaller groups, using a variety of routes? How do we manage the crowd and lead groups to the event venues in the city?

Solution: gamified routes are instrumental in creating navigation systems and managing bigger crowds. We created a system of signs placed in the city as luminous objects. Altogether, they formed several more minor routes. Alongside the signs, we provided the map with the code so the players could decipher the message from the Beast of Kaunas (the mascot of Kaunas 2022). To keep the visual connection with the visual communication of Kaunas 2022, we based the design solution on triangles and rhombuses.

Urban game for the opening of Kaunas – Europen Capital of Culture 2022, by | Photo: Martynas Plepys

Connection to the Kaunas Myth: the Beast (mascot of Kaunas 2022) leaves rhombic traces on the street of Kaunas; they spread all over the centre, even in some of the most unusual places. These hidden traces are signs the city of Kaunas communicates to its visitors. With the help of the special map, game players could decipher the message.

Laimikis work included:
• analysis of the network of streets that connect the main venue of the opening of Kaunas 2022 and other event venues in the city centre and around;
• modelling the flows of people and looking through how they can be divided into smaller groups;
• making decisions about where the luminous signs and objects as signs should be placed to keep the good dynamics of the search (not too easy, not too hard, with some amuses on the way), suitable for players of various ages and abilities;
• making decisions about the visual aesthetics and usability of the signs through which the city of Kaunas (the Beast) communicated to the visitors.

How it worked: Perfectly. As the opening of Kaunas 2022 finished, at 20:22, the bells of all Kaunas churches rang, and the participants started their explorations of the Kaunas myth and ECoC events, following the luminous signs. The flow of visitors during the opening night was divided into smaller groups routed to various event venues in the city. In between visits to the cultural venues, people collected the signs of the game to decipher the message from Kaunas. The winners got the prizes from Kaunas 2022. Even when prizes were gone, the game was so popular among the visitors that it was decided to prolong it for two months after the opening night.

We thank the Kaunas 2022 volunteers for delivering the maps and prizes, and especially Aistis Lansbergas for technical assistance in placing the signs. The opening game would not have been possible without the guidelines from Rytis Zemkauskas, the curator of the Kaunas Myth, and the insights about the opening event from Chris Balwin, the director of the opening of Kaunas 2022.

The opening night of Kaunas—European Capital of Culture 2022. The main challenge was to divide the crowd and lead people in smaller groups to the city’s cultural venues. We used gamified routes to achieve this effect. Photo by Kaunas 2022.

The creative team for the Game of Beasts – Jekaterina Lavrinec, Julius Narkūnas;
Technical assistant – Aistis Lansbergas;
Designer – Tadas Bujanauskas.
Kaunas 2022 volunteers.