Exercise Your Spirit of Adventure: Facebook’s First Soap Opera
Helen Hobbes, forty-nine-year-old British homemaker, has a quiet and charmed life with her husband of twenty-eight years Bruce and two grandchildren, but she is restless and yearning for excitement beyond deciding what to make for dinner. While reading a second-hand copy of Madame Bovary, Helen discovers three worn diary pages inside, narrating what might have been a downed airman’s last days in the desert. Overtaken by her curiosity, Helen leaves everything behind and embarks on a worldwide journey to uncover the airman’s fate in Spirit of Adventure.
A “visual novel” presented through a Facebook app, Spirit of Adventure combines an artful and engaging narrative with embedded gameplay through puzzles and riddles. Spirit of Adventure is created by “social storytellers” nDreams, the makers of the wildly successful and innovative Xi, the first console-based alternate reality game that brought over 5 million players into a virtual world on Playstation Home and out on the streets worldwide. nDreams is also behind the currently running game, Lewis Hamilton: Secret Life, in which players help the Formula 1 driver recover stolen artwork from around the world.
Each Thursday, a new chapter in Helen’s story unfolds, as she travels around the world in search of the airman’s identity. Every person Helen meets along the way is an entrée into another life, another story, and sometimes another puzzle that brings in an otherwise marginal character deeper into the story. While solving puzzles and progressing in the plot, players collect mementos of Helen’s journey, such as a matchbook from a Paris cafe or a little plastic rhino. Perhaps an experiment in monetizing storytelling, players can subscribe to further content from the airman’s point-of-view, but otherwise Spirit of Adventure is free to play. Slated for twenty-six weeks, Spirit of Adventure is currently in on its sixth week.