Our fantastic Trainee Producer, Parwinder Kaur, takes you on an exploration of The Incognito Society, a project commissioned by UCL helping new students to foster connections within the isolation of the pandemic.
Created by Coney in late 2020, The Incognito Society is a fictional secret society at University College London, which has its origins somewhere back in the mid 1800s. The online game was commissioned by UCL Culture and developed by Coney, with challenges inspired by objects from across the 4 main museum collections at UCL (Grant Museum of Zoology, Petrie Museum, Art, and Pathology).
The society is split into four halls, each with a different identity: Crimson Eagles, Sapphire Seahorses, Indigo Wolves, and Tangerine Penguins. Over 150 students joined the society and competed against each other to win items from across the university museums, and were able to share ideas and connect with each other via Whatsapp. Challenges were then released weekly, played via Zoom, and hosted and judged by a mysterious former student named Maryam…
The game featured challenges aiming to help new students from across the globe to connect remotely during lockdown and make new friends. It offered them a great chance to get involved with their university and find out more about its history and culture. The challenges covered a range of themes, from historical stories to going out spots, arming the first year students with everything they needed to know about their new institution.
The game featured a variety of challenges inspired by different objects. Here, for example, students were invited to create a jar of moles, without using actual moles (inspired by the aptly named Jar of Moles).
Another challenge came in response to a museum exhibit about the Brown Dog Affair. The students had 5 minutes, in their groups, to come up with a handmade or digital banner about a common cause they cared for.
One of the challenges involving drawing was inspired by the Female figure in the Nude, where players were invited to recreate a famous painting (possibly from the museum) in the most accurate way they could, with any supplies that students had available at home. Did you know that UCL was the first university to allow women to do life drawing?
Below is an example from the design-a-challenge challenge from week 3, created by the Crimson Eagles – can you spot the hidden images?
The 2021 Showdown came to an end with the Closing Social, where teams completed some final challenges to discover which hall emerged victorious, and the team that managed to collect the prize!
The project received great feedback. One student asked:
“Does anyone know if anything is happening this term because it was fun and would be nice to do again?” (student WhatsApp message).
While another said:
“We had such a great time and I made some great friends through it. We were talking and if there was anything planned for this term we would love to be a part of it.”
Another comment from a student on social:
“I like how UCL has its own Hogwarts Illuminati!”
Coney: Rhianna Ilube, Tassos Stevens, Chloe Mashiter, Rachel-Leah Hosker, Ed Naujokas
UCL Culture: (Grant Museum of Zoology, the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archeology, UCL Art Museum and UCL Pathology collections)