Yesterday I took part in an immersive theatre experience, or something like that... it's a bit hard to pin labels on some of these things. A lot of them are ARGs
, but I don't think this one counts as a game - it was billed as a live action film that you take part in, and I think that's reasonably accurate. It was also referred to as a 'subtlemob' - a group action where the objective is to filter through everyday life in the city doing your crowd-based thing but without
being noticed by the people not taking part.
The event was called 'As if it were the last time'
To take part, you had to download one of two MP3s about 35 minutes long (selecting one based on your birthday), and then find a partner to wander around with (I paired up with bunnybailey
), both listening to the same MP3 started at exactly the same time (and, obviously, at exactly the same time as all the other people taking part). The MP3 sometimes gave you instructions, sometimes it had mood-setting dialogue, and sometimes it was just background music - again, often mood-setting. To me, taking part definitely felt like being in a film adaption of a book, and even if I'd done it without the rest of the crowd involved, it would have been a fairly cool experience.
However, the crowd definitely made it better. Partly that was just the fun of watching out for other couples roaming around both wearing headphones, and trying to figure out (a) are they taking part too, (b) are they on the same MP3 as us, and (c) how well synced are we? (sometimes you could see people do exactly the same thing as you at exactly the same time, other times it was impossible to spot anyone else who was definitely taking part). The best thing about the crowd though, was that parts of the two different MP3s complemented each other - for instance, at one point our MP3 had us separate just out of sight of each other, and wait for a few minutes. At the same time, the other MP3 was doing something ours had done earlier - making couples walk around and smile at people, waiting for someone to smile back before they could stop. Of course, we were quite smiley, so that worked out well for those people - when it had been our turn earlier I'd found it quite hard to catch anyone's eye to smile at them, it being central London!
I don't want to talk too much about what happened in the MP3s, as I have downloaded them both and I'm hoping that, if people are interested, I might be able to organise a crowd of us to run through it again some time. It won't be quite as cool with people who all know each other, but maybe we can spread it out through lightly-connected friendship circles and get a good experience out of it still.
In general I think I'd like to do more of these kinds of things... various people I know have been along to various ones lately, and they've all sounded very cool.stumonkey
was at Nokia's Conspiracy For Good
ARG recently, which he wrote about here
Terence Eden was also at the subtlemob yesterday. He wrote about it here
, along with a bit about an ARG he played recently.
I'd be interested to see links to any other write-ups of similar things people have attended recently, and I'd be very interested to hear about any more that are coming up in future.