Rewards for REMOTE: a game of unreliable algorithms, a little adventure

As we’re in the final few days of a kickstarter campaign to help fund our forthcoming production of REMOTE, Tassos Stevens is writing a series of posts about the making of the piece. Previously, its development, some starting points, and some influences in the making.

But finally, here’s a little bit more about some of the rewards you’ll be receiving for backing REMOTE. For the £10 pledge you’ll get a game; for the £25 pledge, an adventure. Both are standalone pieces living in the world of REMOTE.

At £10, we’ll give you a personalised version of the online game* which the show’s audience can play in advance. An algorithm is your unreliable navigator, leading you into the world of REMOTE online.

I’ve been a fan of the unreliable narrator in fiction ever since aged 7 I read an Agatha Christie novel featuring this (of course I can’t tell you which novel). There’s a power to the direct address of a narrator in immersive play because of the immediacy with which it places you in the world. But even a hint of unreliability makes for a constant playfulness.

When I made the audio-only iPhone game Papa Sangre, I coined the term ‘unreliable navigator’ for the narrators which guide you through the kingdom of the dead, the Fluttery-Wutteries (picture a demon in the form of a giant moth). Its unofficial sequel The Nightjar, had a scientist as unreliable navigator voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Here, rather than Benedict, imagine a lowly algorithm which has been assigned to you by REMOTE. It’s here to learn all about people like you, to help you become more like people like you, through the choices you’re making online.

In the advance of the show, the reward for your play is a chance for you to become a minor if delightful character in REMOTE that night. But in the version we’re making for the reward, the algorithm will know your name from the start, and more if you let it…

At £25, we’ll send you a mission which you can play in any town centre, powered by our magic phone platform. It’s the same platform we use for Adventure 1, which we successfully kickstarted in 2014 and which is now running in London whenever we dare. You send texts and receive messages of all kinds back, which lead you into play.

Just as in Adventure 1, you’ll be taught how to play secretly (so that no one watching can tell that you’re playing) but for a different reason than in Adventure 1. Here you’ll be endeavouring to outwit the systems of algorithms plugged into your town’s cameras, which are trying to learn all about the wants and desires of people like you.

More than that, we can’t tell you right now, because then it wouldn’t be an adventure… 😉

Please support our kickstarter for REMOTE, by pledging anything you can afford – and a measly tenner gets you a game you can play online on a device as an entrance into the world of REMOTE – or by simply spreading the word.

Thanks for being here.

REMOTE played in development at Theatre in The Mill, Bradford on 17 and 18 March, and opens at Camden People’s Theatre from 19 – 30 April.

*We’re building this game in Twine, an interactive fiction platform in which we’re also currently developing What’s She Like, a game in collaboration with Headlong and living in the world of Duncan Macmillan’s play People, Places & Things.

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