Prepare to work your socks off at Socks Inc., the factory that makes Believe. Socks Inc. is the largest employer of sock puppets in the world and if you play your cards right, you too could be hired, starting today. To complete your employment application, create a sock puppet, go the Socks Inc. website, and register to join the fun. Socks Inc. is the second alternate reality game to come from Awkward Hug, following up on their romantic comedy Must Love Robots. Over the coming months, Socks Inc., lovingly referred to as “World of Sockcraft” by Awkward Hug’s lead game designer Jim Babb, plans on sending you and your sock puppet on countless storytelling missions that will keep you on your toes.
The main storyline of Socks Inc. is explored in Mr. Barnsworth’s office, the boss at Socks, Inc. Other themes, stories and missions are available in the company’s other departments: so far, these include Athletics, Groundskeeping, Politics, Waste Management, and Research & Development. The webpage has a few empty slots left for future departments and added content. Socks Inc. employees are sent out into a world of storytelling adventures, which are usually introduced by one of the many colourful characters running the different departments. Once you have accepted a mission, you and your sock puppet avatar need to go into the real world to complete it, and this is where the potential for creativity kicks in.
Given the task of recording your sock puppet rapping, you could just download the beat and rap a few lines. Or, you could spend days building a set and directing a full-blown music video. Whatever you come up with, the next step is to upload your picture or video onto the Socks Inc. site, where it becomes visible on your profile page and can get responses from other players. If you happen to have made a particularly embarrassing attempt, there is also an option to make your video private so only you can view it. As you complete each mission, you unlock more adventures, stories, and badges. Progress is measured on a gauge and a progress bar on your profile page. Co-developer Julie Coniglio confirmed that the game is scalable, with new online content being planned as well as future live events.
Fictional funny-guy Timothy Scribbles is full of amazing inventions, and you can check them out at his blog, Super Great Ideas. Timothy Scribbles used his first Super Great Ideas post in almost a year to announce his new blog, Must Love Socks. A lot of people (and apparently robots) around the world wear socks, so his most recent idea is bound to take off.
Opening soon, Must Love Socks is the latest project from independent transmedia production company Awkward Hug, the Brooklyn-based duo that created last year’s critically acclaimed ARG hit, Must Love Robots. Despite the title, Must Love Socks isn’t strictly a sequel to the highly successful Must Love Robots. According to Awkward Hug founder Jim Babb, “While the narrative isn’t a continuation of the narrative from MLR, we are using things we learned from MLR and expanding into new territory.”
The story in Must Love Robots followed the comedic, romantic travails of 011iver as he looked for love, “helped” along by his well-meaning human friend, Tim. 011iver is quite the catch and even has his own line of t-shirts. A high point in Must Love Robots was the speed dating event at ARGFest 2009 in Portland, Oregon, which also featured the official “Must Love ARGFest” t-shirt designed by gamer Rowan, who also had a special date with 011iver in New York City. Babb was vague when asked about possible tie-ins with ARGFest 2010 this July in Atlanta, Georgia: “You never know what is going to happen at ARGfest, there might even be some awesome games of ‘Overit.’”
So what can players expect in the upcoming Must Love Socks? According to Babb, Must Love Socks “involves so much transmedia, that it has the potential to surpass transmedia and become ‘transtransmedia’ or just ‘media.’ I don’t want to blow anybody’s mind, but it will sort of be the iPad of ARGs.”
EDITOR’S NOTE 06/23/2010: Jim Babb has subsequently set up a Kickstarter page to raise funds for the Socks, Inc. alternate reality game with the goal of raising $6,000 by Friday, August 6th. The page includes a video that explains further details about the project.