THE CLOUD CHAMBER MYSTERY, which launched online on October 4th, 2013, is one of the latest projects to explore these questions as it weaves together elements from classical theater, game design, electronic music, science, social media, and cinematography. Not new questions, to be sure, but ones that are more open to investigation and audience participation than ever before, thanks to the accessibility of high speed networks and affordable digital tools.
“The big question … is where is the narrative form that is suited to the internet? … How do you tell a story with this new medium? What are the important new aspects that this medium has to offer? … We’re not really about cross-platform storytelling … For me that’s a different game. Classic transmedia like where you have a book, a comic, a film, a game, all in the same fiction… But that’s not what we’re doing, we’re working with the internet’s narrative form and figuring out how to mix film, social and game into one story experience … I think the consensus, about what a story is, is about to change in a big way. Instead of a story being us in the same place at the same time, in a room watching a screen, it’s going to be about experiencing a story with hundreds of other people, online in the same virtual space, but not necessarily at the same time or at the same location… ” (Jen Begeal, Transmedia Coalition, September 25, 2013)
Not easy to describe, NYFF51 refers to CLOUD CHAMBER in their promotional materials as,
“the world’s first premium online mystery community … an enthralling collaborative experience that is part alternate reality game, part film, part social network, and in its way altogether original. Players are asked to work together via a single web portal to uncover the story of a young scientist who risked her sanity and betrayed her father in order to save humanity from its most dangerous enemy: itself. The project stars Gethin Anthony (GAME OF THRONES) and Jesper Christensen (JAMES BOND: CASINO ROYALE, QUANTUM OF SOLACE) and is produced by Vibeke Windeløv (BREAKING THE WAVES, DOGVILLE).
Investigate North, Fonnesbech’s production company, writes of CLOUD CHAMBER that it,
.”… orchestrates “found footage” across a variety of media. Players navigate, collaborate and interact in order to access found media (films, diaries, documents, etc) – they are detectives discovering what actually happened. The experience can be described as “a single site Altered Reality Game”. It is fiction for the Facebook generation -‐ part social network, part filmed mystery and part game … The tone mixes psychological thriller elements with supernatural horror and real space science to draw players into a dark mystery. As players explore the story, the mysteries of the human psyche and the heartless voids and immensities of outer space become one.”
A number of things set THE CLOUD CHAMBER MYSTERY project apart from other explorations into immersive storytelling:
– For one, the project received generous funding from the Danish Film Institute, which purportedly spends close to a hundred million dollars a year on feature films.
– For another, the producer, Vibeke Windelov,
who produced a number of the Lars von Trier
films, was able to bring a level of production
value, not to mention internationally recognized
acting talent, not often found in such projects.
– In addition, the game designer, Lau Korsgaard, who has created a number of experimental games in the past and has been nominated for the Independent Game Festival, IndieCade, and Nordic Game Awards, brought a tremendous amount of experience to the design and development of the gaming aspects of CLOUD CHAMBER.
– A partnership with the European Space Agency allowed for the integration of genuine scientific photographs and files that give a sense of authenticity to the experience.
– Innovative partnerships with media companies, social media, and the press in Denmark are providing the platforms for experimentation with the best ways to find customers online.
– And, finally, Investigate North’s CEO, Frederik Ovilsen, with a background in Experimental and Behavioral Economics, is leading the charge into the controlled testing of payment plans, price sensitivity, gift certificates, pay walls, conversion rates, and even the most effective design for the landing page.
So, why not give THE CLOUD CHAMBER MYSTERY a whirl?
It’s available at www.cloudchambermystery.com.
Special bonus – the first three (of ten) levels are free.