LIFEBOAT Game | Engagement

LIFEBOAT: What will float, and why?

In the next twenty years, some ideas and communities will rise. Others will sink. How can we tell which is which? Help one young man as he searches the nation for its most sustainable structures – places he feels will be lifeboats to carry us into a better future.

LIFEBOAT is an alternate reality game created by game designer Ken Eklund as part of the Green21 media initiative.

Developed by game designer
Ken Eklund with the idea that
many heads can be better than
one, this alternative reality game
is part of Green21, a multiplatform
media initiative.

Roberta Cruger

Normally Caspian’s a personable optimistic guy. Like many of us, however, he sees disruptions ahead – and he’s afraid Amy, his dear friend from childhood now expecting a baby, will fall prey to their injustices. So Caspian’s determined to “scout out the future” for her, with little more than his hitchhiking thumb, his trusty smartphone, and his never-give-up attitude. As he travels, he’s asking the people he meets what they feel will “float” and what will “sink” in their lives – i.e., what’s sustainable? What’s fair? What will last? What won’t? He believes their collaborative knowledge will coalesce into true insight about the future. From it, he’s forging living narratives about the communities and organizations that will be lifeboats and float Amy free and clear no matter what the future holds.

LIFEBOAT is a pre-launch “rabbit hole” and buzz builder for the Green21 television series. LIFEBOAT establishes an “alternate reality,” a device of narrative fiction that encourages viewers to become participants in exploring its story, led by our hero, Caspian. Although our audience knows Caspian is a character, they interact with him as though he’s real: mostly through his cell phone, but also by email, Twitter, his Flickr and Facebook accounts, even face to face. The alternate reality game format (and cellphone emphasis) helps engage young people from backgrounds not always represented in the environmental movement. Most importantly, Caspian’s story is open to their influence: as they add their ideas about sustainability, Caspian reacts to them and reshapes his journey accordingly. In a very real way, his journey becomes their journey and his quest their quest.

How to Play:
People experience and interact with LIFEBOAT just as they do with real life, using technology they already know. They follow Caspian’s story in videos, images, textfeeds, and podcasts, and respond to his discoveries by calling in, by linking him to web assets they’ve created, or by browsing the growing pool of citizen stories and adding to the discussions. People play LIFEBOAT because they want to be a part of creating positive stories about intensely relevant issues.