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Conspiracy for Good* was an alternate reality game and social movement that played out both online and in London this summer. Since this article’s initial publication, the Conspiracy for Good‘s pilot episode has come to a close, boasting over half a million game downloads and over 4,000 dedicated members. For a brief summary of the final event on August 7, watch the Conspiracy for Good‘s official recap.*
By Michael Andersen, originally posted at ARGNet
This past May, Tim Kring launched Conspiracy for Good, and as the summer comes to a close, the events of the past few months are coming to a head for one final event this weekend in London. If you didn’t make it to Bloomsbury Square Gardens in London on August 7, this article should get you up to speed on what went down.
Conspiracy for Good can best be described as an amalgamation of an alternate reality game, a street theater show, and a social movement. Players have been charged with the task of bringing down Blackwell Briggs, an evil global security firm with a penchant for kidnapping and skullduggery. Players willing to risk attracting Blackwell Briggs’ ire joined up with the Conspiracy for Good, an organization of socially-minded individuals committed to opposing the company’s excess.
Using a series of free mobile games available at Nokia’s Ovi Store, players were given the opportunity to hack into the Babbage 1.6.1 website to extract valuable pieces of intelligence, break into the Blackwell Briggs servers, and hack a series of CCTV cameras across London to help smuggle Nadirah, a key Conspiracy for Good member seeking to build a library for children in Zambia, into the city. The final mobile game lead to the next stage of Conspiracy for Good: a series of four live “Actions” occuring weekly in London. Participants at each Action are provided with a Nokia phone with pre-installed software to help complete the task.
For the first Action, players helped smuggle Nadirah into London before dropping her off at the Conspiracy for Good safehouse. At the safe house, Blackwell Briggs security interrupted the players’ initiation into the Conspiracy for Good, forcing them to distract the opposing forces while Nadirah fled.
For the second Action, players hunted down the location for Conspiracy for Good’s new headquarters while avoiding Blackwell Briggs employees. On their way, they encountered an opera singer and a crowd of Bollywood dancers. When players finally located Conspiracy for Good headquarters, they received a message from Spades, an inscrutable individual watching them from afar. Players were encouraged to donate a toy to Kidsco, an organization that holds a Christmas Day celebration for vulnerable London children.
For the third Action, players spent the afternoon canvasing London for Doctors of the World before heading over to headquarters, where Blackwell Briggs CEO Ian Briggs offered to ransom Conspiracy for Good spokeswoman Ann Marie Calhoun for incriminating documents during a Skype chat. Players scrambled to gather the documents needed to successfully complete the hand-off.
August 7th will be the fourth and final Action for Conspiracy for Good, and is referred to as the “Belly of the Beast.” According to the event page, participants will be crashing the annual Blackwell Briggs Recruitment Expo, attempting to win the evil corporation’s trust. Participants are encouraged to bring a book to support READ International.
Conspiracy for Good has provided unparalleled opportunities for players to engage the narrative through both online and in-person interactions, particularly through the past month’s live events in London. Expanding Universe’s Yomi Ayeni described his experience as a participant of the first Action as something that “wrapped fiction around fact, turned adventure into purpose, and gave me a new quest.” Commenting on the same Action, Pervasive Games’ Jaakko Stenros noted that the live event appealed to a broad audience, as “[s]ome of the participants just want to do the trasure [sic.] trail and don’t really care about interacting with the ractors (i.e. interactive actors), whereas others love to play with the characters they have seen online and try to trick the security guards and so on.” If the video summaries are any indication, these Actions are some of the most complex events staged for an alternate reality game to date.
Can’t make the live event but still want to help? Read a book at We Give Books to help Conspiracy for Good reach its goal of 10,000 books donated to a library in Chataika, a Zambian village, or head over to ConspiracyforGood.com to join the fun.
Click Here for Steve Peters’ interview with Tim Kring about Conspiracy for Good on the ARGNetcast
Click Here for the Conspiracy for Good video recaps
Click Here for the Conspiracy for Good wiki at Wikibruce
Click Here to join the discussion at the Unfiction forums