Life as Play: Alternate reality games and brands

We’ve been a big fan of ARG (alternate reality gaming) over here at FRUKT for a while now, from the early days of ‘Can You See Me Now?’ and ‘I Love Bees’ right up to more recent branded versions of the genre, such as Nike Grid, Mini Getaway and Stella Artois' Black Diamond.

So we were naturally excited when the latest slice of pervasive gaming landed in our inbox from Blast Theory, the four times Bafta nominated collective, responsible for a string of pioneering Interactive art and immersive theatre pieces.

'I’d Hide You' is the first offering from the collective that is open to all across the Internet, with previous events restricted to specific locations. It’s a simple premise, based around a basic game of tag – no convoluted QR codes or app downloads required. Simply pick one of three runners to follow and view the world through their eyes as they attempt to locate the other runners. If you see a runner, you can snap them onscreen.

What’s interesting about this game is that the focus is not on winning, scoring points or netting a reward (as so many branded platforms in this style tend to be), it’s about the journey, the people the runners meet along the way, the conversations they have, the things they see.

FRUKT penned an article a couple of years ago about ‘The New Playtime’ and now people could reconnect with their inner child through pervasive gaming.  We also spoke at length about the associated benefits for brands getting involved in this area. One of our key takeouts was this “The New Playtime is about fun. This isn’t a competitive sport. This is the equivalent to a kick about in the park. Everyone is invited. Everyone wins”. And this is what ‘I’d Hide You’ focuses on – play, experience, uncomplicated adventure.

Without unnecessarily dumbing it down, this game is in many ways the ‘reality TV version of an ARG’ – and that may have far more to say about us as people than the increasingly complex and often overstated role of technology in our playtime.

For brands, connecting on a human level is an inherent part of what they are trying to achieve, and stripping back the complexities and offering a simple moment of play may well be the fu

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