Wednesday, September 17, 2008

If you want to live you will obey

This morning I took part in a mini-ARG (alternate reality game) called "Eagle Eye: Free Fall", part of a viral promotional strategy for an upcoming movie whose tagline, "If you want to live you will obey", says about as much as needs to be said about its tone of high-stakes intrigue.

All you need is a telephone, a web-connected computer, and ten spare minutes to play. It drew me in right away. So, if you have those things, stop reading this and do it now (although I'm afraid it's probably set up for U.S. customers only; hope I'm wrong about that).

As usual, it's not the specific content so much as the potential of the medium which grabs me. This particular "game", which could more accurately be thought of as a moderately interactive multimedia show, seems to have garnered the approval of the ARG community, and considering its brevity, "Eagle Eye Freefall" does deliver the goods. The coolest part is the simultaneity of Internet and telephone interactivity. Things happen unexpectedly and yet right on cue, which generates a thrilling sense that's hard to describe, but to me it's something like resonance, synchronicity or immersively "being there". Similar to a feeling conjured at certain moments in an urban audio walk.

The repeatability, hence scalability (because of automation) of this immersive-yet-personal mode of storytelling, and particularly the way it railroads the player into pre-scripted behaviour, also made me think of a novel I read a week or two ago, Daemon by Leinad Zeraus (a.k.a. Daniel Suarez). The premise is that a computer game-designing genius unleashes a mind-bogglingly sophisticated bot (automated software program) when he dies, activating a fiendish plan with far-reaching consequences. Suarez elaborated on the real-life concerns behind his Crichtonesque fiction in a recent Seminar About Long-term Thinking for The Long Now Foundation [mp3, 35.9Mb].

Something about this automated ARG performance, and the way it recruits and requires one's cooperation, lends additional plausibility to the chilling , if far-fetched, vision Suarez lays out.

By the way, did I mention the game is really fun? Check it out.

Related posts:
> Humans have 23 years to go
> London's burning

(Thanks Simeon!)


Rebecca V. O'Neal said...

yea.... this game was pretty amazing.

i got my mom pretty good with it ... doesn't hurt that she thinks every piece of technology is somehow wired to skynet.

great viral marketing on paramount's part.

Anonymous said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Stuart.

After having tried it, I had a stronger sense of the cell phone as a truly personal (indeed, intimate) technology. Receiving calls every time, instead of having to place them myself, made the experience much more intrusive, and enjoyable, than if I just kept getting a new phone number to call on my own at each step. Know what I mean?

Stuart Candy said...

I do know what you mean.

Interesting adjectives you put together here; intrusive and enjoyable. Suggesting an upside and a downside at once.

I also think that location-activated content for mobile platforms will seek to exploit that intrusiveness / intimacy on a wide scale (for better and for worse) in the near future.

In my mind, both the promise and the threat are associated with augmented reality [example].