They scurry, they snarl, they snatch slices of pizza twice their size. But design firm ESI wants New Yorkers to walk a mile — or in this case, 40 feet — in the shoes of NYC’s least appreciated citizens: subway rats.
As part of the FIGMENT NYC art festival this weekend on Governors Island, ESI will host a live-action game titled “Revenge of the Third Rail.” In the game, participants must crouch into a wheeled-apparatus designed to look like the head of a rat, and navigate 40 feet of “dangerous subway track” — all the while collecting slices of pizza, doughnuts and other goodies as they crawl.
“The idea is to change your sensory input to experience what a rat experiences,” said Chris Niederer, a member of the game’s design team.
The game pits two players against each other. The winner is determined by whoever collects the most goodies, or whichever player doesn’t come into contact with the “third rail” or “subway train.”
The train is one of the ways game designers intend to involve as many participants as possible. Each track will be assigned a train, and each train a conductor and driver who hold a 5-foot cutout of a subway car. The driver determines the rate of speed, while the conductor shouts unintelligible warnings through a distorted megaphone (mimicking what subway PA systems sound like).
Patrons standing in line can also throw garbage onto the tracks as they wait, “just like people do in real life.”
“It is a way to put yourself in another’s shoes, and see the world through a different perspective,” Niederer said. “And have fun doing it!”
“Revenge of the Third Rail” is part of the FIGMENT NYC art festival, a free annual event that covers Governors Island with an array of interactive installations and sculptures. The festival runs June 3-4.