By Haley Moore, June 26th, 2010

The other day, I got a piece of totally awesome swag in the mail.  It was a postcard of a sock puppet, along with a totally awesome boy scout style patch of 011iver from Must Love Robots!

I didn’t need the patch to recognize the signature design elements of a piece of loot from Awkward Hug, the indie ARG creators who brought us Must Love Robots (complete with robot speed dating) last year.  They have a certain flair for the handcrafted, and incorporate it into the props, sets and costumes for their games.

The game, called Socks, Inc., plans to use user-created video assets as a major part of its gameplay, but like the lauded Top Secret Dance-Off, players won’t be asked to show their faces on camera.  Everyone will play through sock puppet avatars that they create themselves, an idea that seems to follow from the few players in Must Love Robots who interacted online in robot costume.  It’s an idea that runs transmedia up against DIY culture in a very enticing way.

Unfortunately, anyone lucky enough to get one of these packages doesn’t get to jump into the game right away.  The mailing sends you straight to the game’s Kickstarter page, where you can check out a video describing the ARG’s gameplay and pledge to back it.  This may be the first Alternate Reality Game funded through Kickstarter.

The other notable difference between Socks, Inc. and usual ARG fare, is that people who donate to the game through Kickstarter are also offered access to a behind-the-scenes blog for the game, effectively eliminating the element of creator anonymity that was key to early ARGs.

However, if there is a group that can go against the grain and still produce something excellent, it is Awkward Hug.  Their writing is playful, personal, and funny, never overly serious.  You probably won’t be asked to save the world, but you will have a good time.

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Posted in design experience gaming

Haley Moore is a newspaper reporter, artist, and playwright based in north Texas. She has worked on several indie, fan and commercial Alternate Reality Games.

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