How to Win – Taking theatre gaming online
30 Jul, 2020
How to Win is a new online adventure game where the story is shaped by suggestions from its online audience. Your choices change everyone’s story
How To Win
Created by multi-award winning UK theatre company Hidden Track, and commissioned by Harrogate Theatre as one of Manchester HOME’s HOMEMakers commissions, How to Win tries to capture the frenetic energy of a live performance within an adventure game where the ideas of a few can affect the story for everyone.
You can suggest anything. No really, ANYTHING.
At key points of the story, you’re invited to submit your suggestions through an online form. A selection of those suggestions are then put to a public vote, and whichever option gets chosen, that is the subject of a brand new chapter. Audience-suggested events that have happened so far include:
- Invest all your money in a potato-based pyramid scheme.
- Slay a dragon, along with a monster drawn by a 5-year-old.
- Ignore everything that’s happened, and go and join the circus.
Whatever gets chosen, that’s what happens next – but that doesn’t mean there’s not a solid story, or a coherent message!
Political messaging through playable nonsense.
While characters in the story so far have ranged between crazed clowns, Einstein’s ghost, and giant dragons; the game also looks at issues such as workers rights, the COVID crisis, and climate change. The game asks its players to look at and break the systems we all live in, and try to find some way that everyone can win.
“We try to say important stuff, but then also there’s a dragon.”
Hidden Track’s Artistic Director, Elliot Hughes, is the lead writer of the game, and in charge of finding the delicate balance between comedy, whimsy, and heart. “It’s really hard to care about something if someone just shouts at you and says it’s important. And no-one really likes Hardcore Political Art, do they? We try to focus first and foremost on making a fun game. We make worlds that don’t take themselves too seriously, so that we’re able to fit in whatever weird stuff our players throw at us. Then we fill that world , with a solid story and characters that you care about. We try to say important stuff, but then also there’s a dragon.”
Is theatre moving into gaming?
While theatres are closed due to the COVID pandemic, Hidden Track have moved their work completely online, and this experiment will show how well interactive theatre can translate to pure gaming.
Chapters 1 & 2 of How to Win are already available, and with Chapters 3 & 4 releasing over August, you still have the chance to submit your own suggestions, and vote on what will happen next.
There are still many places for the story to go, and yours might be the suggestions that change it for everyone.
How to Win is available online from https://homemcr.org/production/how-to-win/, and can be played in browser at any time. The game is Pay-What-You-Decide (suggested contribution £5), with all funds raised going towards the developers, and the HOME response fund. More details and videos of Hidden Track’s work can be found at https://hiddentrack.org.uk/
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