Now Play This: The three-day games festival returns to Somerset House

© Ben Peter Catchpole

If you love to play (and really, who doesn't), the three-day games festival Now Play This returns to Somerset House for its fifth edition this April. Part of the city-wide London Games Festival, supported by Games London, there'll be a host of hands-on gameplay for all ages.

The popular weekender brings the best of experimental game design from around the globe, from the 1990s to the present day. From screens to tabletops, solo to multiplayer, simple to complex, players can experience dozens of diverse games – many of which premiere at Now Play This.

This year's focus is on the idea of place, demonstrating how games and play help us understand the world around us in new and creative ways. Through varied, purposeful play, you'll be able to explore different countries and cultures, and critical issues specific to these places ranging from international borders to identity.

There'll also be opportunities for you to create your own games and contribute towards the making of others with interactive, participatory installations, and even the communal creation of a "flatgame".

© Ben Peter Catchpole

© Ben Peter Catchpole

© Ben Peter Catchpole

© Ben Peter Catchpole

What are the highlights? The Loss Levels by BAFTA-winning artist and creative technologist Dan Hett, premieres. The game draws on Hett's experiences after his brother Martyn was killed in the Manchester Arena bombing last May. Players must complete a series of short tasks with a controller, which relate to the situations that arose in the aftermath.

Roadmap by Yara El-Sherbini (whose game Operation Brexit at last year's Now Play This was the most shared on social media across 2017's London Games Festival) can be played for the first time and features two roads of Scalextric that run parallel and intersect, accurately depicting roads in Israel and Palestine.

Flatgame invites you to hand draw your own designs, which will become digitised and incorporated by professional designers into this special game over the course of the weekend. Wikipedia: The Text Adventure by Kevan Davis draws live from Wikipedia and invites you to embark on a journey in the style of a traditional text adventure, asking to "go north", for example. You'll start at London landmarks and explore at will.

© Videogamo

© Videogamo

© Ben Peter Catchpole

© Ben Peter Catchpole

Then there's Dobotone by Videogamo where four plays get to compete at a seemingly traditional console game, while a fifth person takes on the role of the powerful "Game Remixer" on a control box with switches and dials. This person alters the rules of play in real time, from speed and threats, to the shape of the digital space, and the players' aim.

It's going to be a fun, packed weekender, that's for sure. Now Play This will take place at London's Somerset House between 6 - 8 April 2018. Discover more at somersethouse.org.uk.