London - As Though I Had Never Seen It Before

by @edent | # # # # # # # # # | 1 comment

In the last week, I've played two ARGs around London. Using Alternate / Augmented Reality is an amazing way to discover - or rediscover - a city.

The Real Game

This is still in "beta" so I can't say too much about it. It's a spy game with a twist. You and your partner race around London solving clues. All the while you are being chased by a "Dagger" team whose aim is to solve the same clues, find you and photograph you.

Running around London solving riddles is fun in of itself - but what heightened the experience was the constant "chatter" between your team and "Control".
Spy Texts
The paranoia of thinking you're about to be rumbled is enhanced by hearing about the movements of your "enemies", how other teams are progressing, and helpful clues around the way.

The game took in several familiar locations - Waterloo, Tate Modern and the British Museum - which really made me investigate aspects of the spaces that I simply hadn't seen before.

Subtle Mob

Billed as the polar opposite of a FlashMob - a SubtleMob is a performance piece for two people in a crowd.

A group of people listen to the same MP3 - started at exactly the same time - and follow the performance round the streets of London. You're never quite sure who is playing, nor if they're listening to the same track as you. As the performance progresses, you're asked to perform subtle actions. The people wandering around the street shouldn't notice that you're doing anything out of the ordinary.

Here's a video showing one from last year.

It was one of the most intense experiences I've ever had in London. I've seen performances in lots of London theatres - some big, some in the back room of pubs - but "As If It Were The Last Time" was the most personal, moving and bewitching "show" I've witnessed. Truly magical.

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