CLOSER TIES - social play and discovery in virtual recreations of real physical spaces


FUNDING DETAILS:    €1,200 from Creative Europe funding

STARTED:    October 2019d


Using Mozilla Hubs – link

Creating Safe Spaces Online For Play – link

The Game Pack can be downloaded and played straight away here: link 

We’ll be running the game every 2nd Monday, starting from May 25th, @7pm London BST. If you want to join us ping us an email! We’ll make the joining process more streamlined shortly.


is an online social game for 4 or more players that redefines real and virtual space in the context of the COVID-19. You play it from home on your computer, with friends who can be anywhere in the world.

Players will choose an avatar, join a browser / VR ready chatroom in the MOZILLA HUBS platform, and then play within a snapshot of a real world urban location. 

This game asks players what their connection is to the real world in our current times where access to physical space is being restricted.

Want to play? Visit our page here to download a ‘CLOSER TIES – Game Pack’ and get started straight away!


Much like in a facilitated workshop, or even in a game of Dungeons and Dragons, a Game Master will use the Game Pack to guide players through the experience. Players will: 

1) Explore Manchester Gardens, a real world London green space. 

2) Curate a gallery of memories of places and people.

3) Build a new world together.

4) Share and reflect on your activities together. 


BAGEL+BALLOON were accepted into the TRUST IN PLAY SCHOOL OF URBAN GAME DESIGN back in 2019! TRUST IN PLAY brings together European based game makers from various backgrounds to explore play in urban settings. We all gathered in Athens in October 2019 to meet, learn and create with one another. Then we broke off into our respective branches (Amsterdam, Athens and our group the Nomadic Branch) to begin working on a new game project. 

CLOSER TIES began as a seedling idea that took place in the city – in a green space, square, or any area that a small group of people wanted to explore. The game was originally all about discovering your connection to this urban space and sharing that connection by building a path for your fellow players to follow using yarn – touching and twining around objects and landscape to help your friend share in what you were feeling/thinking. We were ready to test this idea in March, then the Corona pandemic forced the lockdown.

While contemplating whether to pause the whole project, BAGEL began experimenting in an online, open-source platform, MOZILLA HUBS. We were able to make a virtual recreation of a local green space in our neighbourhood, Manchester Gardens. We took photos of the garden, recreated it in UNITY3D + PROBUILDER and uploaded it as a free to access room in MOZILLA HUBS. 

BALLOON then supplied a guided Applied Theatre set of rules for the new incarnation of the game. Instead of making a yarn path, we asked players to build a collective image gallery in response to the virtual recreation they find themselves in. 

The result was the CLOSER TIES Game Pack – a guided game for 4 players or more that took place in a virtual recreation of a real space. We were able to playtest twice. Players were encouraged to treat our digital garden like a spatial playground based on our collective feelings, changing the space at will with objects. Players’ memories of weddings, childhood haunts and opera performances overlapped. 

Interested in finding out more about the translating an urban game to a digital experience? Check out our CLOSER TIES blogpost in the MORE FROM US SECTION at the bottom of the page! 🙂

The project doesn’t end here! We are excited to try out the game with as many people as possible, and look to a future where we could get funding to create more digital recreations of real-world locations.

We ran our first season of shows every 2nd Monday, starting from May 25th, @7pm London BST and ending in mid July. If you want to join us for Season 2 ping us an email! We’ll make the joining process more streamlined shortly.

Thank you to our playtesters:  Matteo, Sierra, Taylor, Susannah, Bio Games, Rogue Opera, Jared, Rachel


More from us

Urban game in. Virtual experience out!

Our first season of CLOSER TIES is over! Find out more about how COVID-19 changed our trajectory.

May 2020 - Update at last!

We finally get round to updating you with the bigly things going on at BAGEL+BALLOON! 

ICAT Residency Wrap Up

BALLOON reflects on how our international team pulled together the Acouscous project.




+1 902 989 6808




+1 902 989 6808