Digital Located Residency Blog #2 – Why the box?

I used to love watching films when I was a kid. Jumanji, The NeverEnding Story, Flight of the Navigator and Goonies were amongst my favourite films that I had recorded on VHS and watched over and over again. It has occurred to me that all of the stories were all about opening something (a game, a book, a spaceship, an attic door) that led to another reality or revealed a new perspective of the world (be it real or fictional). All of these stories were the seed for the idea of this project.

These films are all about a journey, an adventure that (generally) takes a group of people on to experience incredible things. I’m interested in bringing some of that magic to a boxed experience that can be played out at home with a group of friends. Opening up the living room to a wider world and finding those moments of surprise within the experience for those that are taking part in it. So how can we build an adventure story within the constraints of a living room in a home?

The concept dictates that it has to be interactive and potentially contain game elements in that you will:

  • Order a box
  • Open the box
  • Explore what is given to you in the box. Whether this is through items that tell a story or you are given a set of activities via a narrative (in the physical space or via digital means).
  • The interaction either way it’s about active discovery or creation through participation and creating your own experience with a group of friends.

This ‘playing’ or participation is going to be important for people as we want them to feel central to the experience, like the actors in the films listed above. So what do I mean by this? Well, when thinking about these films they all have similar mechanics. There is often a number of characters all with their individual special abilities or interest. They in essence all have their ‘hero moment’ within the story. Therefore could the experience create moments for individual players to have their hero moment? Building on this further, is it possible to create scenarios where players’ goals and desires not always align? (because we are hoping to explore truths and realities).

If we think about board games, the more traditional ones all have the same goal; the individual winning. More recently there has been a rise in popularity where co-operation has been needed to succeed. And alongside these, there are now a number of games where people can assume characters that are not working towards the common good. So in the same way can we make some people have totally different agendas? Maybe looking at characters such as Loki the norse trickster or the joker can be ultimately good but may also not be totally on the level? Can we borrow game mechanics to move parts of the narrative along? What does this do to the experience overall?

If we can build this into the experience then perhaps the game can almost self-generate truths and non-truths and the sophistication of being able to understand and then make an opinion based on facts and accumulated knowledge.

These ideas and themes might be totally impossible but it feels like an interesting concept to explore. Also there is something to be said for keeping it simple and creating an experience for a group of people that brings them closer together. Creating new nights in for people that isn’t about sitting in front of the TV and binge watching the latest series on Netflix but creating social connection through a shared experience.


Allie x

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