GOOD 100: Meet Chloe Varelidi, Playing to Connect, Learn, and Inspire

Chloe Varelidi is a native of Athens, Greece, with a passion for game design. She continues on those lines today with Athens Plaython, an annual

Chloe Varelidi is a native of Athens, Greece, with a passion for game design. She continues on those lines today with Athens Plaython, an annual international street games festival that kicked off last year. At the festival, children and adults use games and technology to embody the role of creator and innovator, while re-imagining their cityscape at the same time. The street games festival, now in its second year, is transforming the city of Athens into a giant playground.

“Greece has made headlines this past year and not for good reasons,” Varelidi says. “Sometimes it is about the corruption of our politicians. Other times it is about European and IMF administrators fighting over bailout terms. And many times our news feeds fill with war-zone images of the city; the streets flocked with angry protesters marching against the austerity measures.”

In the midst of this, a tiny group of Athenians decided to pursue an absurd idea: organize a grassroots festival to celebrate the city they love. The goal was to introduce a platform for the local community to come together through playing, interacting, and learning.

“It was our attempt of proposing a lifestyle infused and surrounded by playfulness as a means to improve our everyday encounters and urban experiences,” Varelidi says.

Inspired by festivals like Come Out And Play in New York City, Invisible Playground in Berlin, and Hide and Seek in London, Varelidi and her cohorts asked Athenians to get out on the streets and re-imagine their cityscape as a playground. And they did it! With the help of about 40 rock star volunteers, they ran 25 games and workshops, hosting about 2,000 participants.

“This year we are hoping to bring an even bigger festival to Athens and create tools for others who want to host a Plaython in their own city,” Varelidi says.

Athens Plaython will launch in the fall of 2013.

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