These days, it seems the frontier fields of bio-technology and genetic research are the popular subjects to explore in most every science-fiction medium. Not to be left behind, the UK’s Channel 4 has commissioned Oil Productions Inc. (working with Mind’s Eye Media) to produce an educational ARG directed towards teenagers (but has age focus ever deterred anyone from playing?).
This one, however, is boldly purported to be “underpinned by credible, cutting edge science”, to the point of receiving support from The Wellcome Trust.
Oil’s website says about “Routes”:
Routes is not a passive viewing experience; it is a story that participants can reach out and touch, where all telephone numbers work, where the fictional bio-tech company websites are indistinguishable from their real counterparts and where characters may turn up on your doorstep asking for help. The participant is not just a fan of the game and the accompanying narrative; instead they are a tangible part of its universe with their actions shaping the events that unfold in the story.
Routes differs from most ARGs produced to date in that the narrative is underpinned by credible, cutting edge science; so much so that the format has gained recognition and investment in the form of sponsorship from The Wellcome Trust.
Channel 4 Education says:
Embedded in the game, award-winning comedian Katherine Ryan explores her own genetic make-up, and tests her DNA to find out whether it is her genes or her environment that define who she is. Can genes make you fat? Do they hide critical information about disease? Can Katherine blame her genetic make-up for the fact that she gets drunk on two beers?
As players delve deeper they are forced to explore these questions by solving puzzles, playing mini games, trading tips and collaborating on challenges, and as the broader game unravels the players will uncover a compelling mystery that lies at the heart of Routes itself. Who owns your genes? What are the pros and cons of exploring your genetic make-up? Do your genes determine who you are, or does our environment play a greater role?