Mission: MISSION!

Mission: MISSION! is a city streets exploration and photography game in the southern Mission mural alleys of San Francisco. The Mission District has become trendy with many hip bars, restaurants, stores, and walking tours of the area. Yet there are so many things that already exist there, particularly in the less popular areas of this district. This is a self and group led exploration to stop and admire the beautiful art in the alleys and on the walls of the area. Not everyone wants to take a long walking tour so this experience encourages you to create your own memories of the cultural experience instead of trying to remember somebody else’s stories. Photos and interaction with the murals can create a longer lasting and fonder memory than a series of lectures. Bring a camera or camera phone and get ready to become a living mural.


Each player receives a game postcard, colored wristband, and a sticker sheet with instructions on the back. The cards are rainbow to represent San Francisco as a backdrop to the spelling of the word MISSION for the district containing all the beautiful murals. It looks similar to a xylophone and contains seven letters and colors like both a musical scale and a rainbow. The rainbow also makes the seven letters of MISSION easier to distinguish from afar to spot players with the colored wristband you need. The kit is clipped together with a colored paper clip placed on the letter of your stickers. In the case of the same letter, this paper clip and the color help you differentiate which letter in the word you are.


Players earn and trade letter stickers of common mural themes as they join up to recreate the striking imagery on the walls. To earn a sticker players find a mural representing the themed sticker they want. Then they get a picture taken of them acting like a mural element or interacting with something in the mural. Each sticker goes on your postcard, helps complete the word MISSION, and contains a common theme found in the murals.


Take seven mural theme photos to spell out “MISSION” on the card to accomplish the mission. Players bring home personalized memories and a sticker covered souvenir postcard from the experience.

Mission: MISSION! game kits are available for anyone to run their own game. Each kit contains instructions, a map to good alleys to play the game, seven colored wristbands, postcards, and letter stickers to form a rainbow and spell out MISSION. Upon completion of their card, players receive an “Accomplished!” sticker to place on the back of their postcard over the words “Mission: MISSION!” Kits can be used alone or combined into multiple sets to accommodate seven or more people.

Mission: MISSION! originally debuted at the Come Out and Play SF 2013 Festival and was played a second time a few weeks later in a different alley. In future iterations, the wristbands will be marked with the player’s letter highlighted within the sequence of the word MISSION so that this communication to other players is less color dependent. I would also like to experiment with removing the icon at the bottom of each letter and letting players draw their own picture of what that theme looks like or means.

Mission: MISSION! is inspired by a project done in 2006 that similarly encouraged location specific player communication, interaction, and photo collection without a specific city and district. Photo Op originated with designing a game to be played in two different cities. The result ended up being a game to be played in one city with other players that could be anywhere in the world.


Photo Op is a bingo experience that involved players acting out several character roles in specific locations. Each player had three costumes to represent three characters that they had to keep hidden from public view. They had to secretly ask other players if they had characters they needed by asking in a roundabout way that did not use any direct reference to their character or costume. Each bingo square had two characters and a location that needed to be in a photo for the spot to be filled. The resulting photos were uploaded to an online photo stream so players at home could also play bingo. Look at the photo gallery from our various prototype tests here.