I made a thing! And I'd like to share the thing with you! It's called The McKinnon Account, and it's a story told over the course of a morning via several emails and a few text messages. The fabulous and warmhearted Ben Scofield wrote the platform, and one day I'd like to make it open-source.
You can sign up for this little story at Hunter, Brown & Shen. Once you've registered, it begins for you at 9am the next day. (For extra verisimilitude, sign up on a Sunday so it plays out while you're at work of a Monday morning.) Just to be clear, it's not a game, just a story, and you can't do anything but read it. Call it an ARG without the G?
This is just a tiny prototype for a larger project I'm hoping to make later this year, assuming I find the time to write it. That one is called The Attachment Study, and it's an experiment with a few things I'd like to try: single-player replayable immersive narrative; the illusion of interaction, where no real branching or player agency is actually possible; and for the real thing later in the year, the emotional texture of a character in the story falling in love with an audience member. The McKinnon Account does two out of three, and along the way incorporates some of the narrative techniques I plan to use in The Attachment Study -- attributing actions to the player, for example.
One more thing! Services to send email and text messages aren't entirely free, so running this story is likely to cost us a (very small) amount of money. If you think The McKinnon Account is super cool and you enjoy your time working for Hunter, Brown & Shen, maybe buy us a cup of coffee? I've set up a Gumroad product where you can pay what you like, if you are so moved. (The downloadable is a photo I recently took in Vienna, just so's there's something there. It is not actually related to the story of The McKinnon Account.)
So! That's the thing! Since this is a prototype, it's important I find out how this actually works for you. Please, please tell me how the story plays out for you; what you liked, what didn't work for you, thoughts on how it could be improved or modified to be better. Comment here if you can, or on Facebook or on Twitter, or reach out to me privately by email through my contact form. Even if you don't like it, that's valuable information I can use before I spend some months working on a story that everyone will hate.
Thank you! And congratulations on your new job at Hunter, Brown & Shen. Good luck!
UPDATED: If your phone number isn't in the U.S., alas you'll only receive the texts as emails and not to your phone -- but you will still get them, no worries!