An Expedition With Mr Mirrors is a collaboration between Failbetter Games and A Door In A Wall (ADIAW), designed for Hide&Seek’s Sandpit Night on Friday, March 26, at the storied and majestic Victoria & Albert Museum. Expedition will be one of several games in this month’s V&A Friday Late, themed “Playgrounds,” where possibly thousands of participants will invade the museum’s halls for an evening of games and revelry.
Expedition will bring to life some of the dark yet droll inhabitants of Fallen London, the Victorian-inspired universe of Echo Bazaar, a browser-based RPG with strong social and narrative dimensions. Well-received since opening for beta late last year, Echo Bazaar has been nominated for The Escapist‘s Best Browser Game of 2009.
In Expedition, amnesiac players have been drawn to the V&A at the behest of Mr Mirrors, enigmatic Master of the Bazaar and “purveyor of the frangible and the fine.” Travelling the halls of the museum, participants will encounter possibly allegorical strangers who can help participants recover their memories after revealing some cryptic secrets. In addition to cards and puzzles, participants will be treated to “glimpses of some new Fallen London back-story and splotches of [contributor] @emilystaubert‘s trademark salacity” as they try to learn who they once were.
Much of Echo Bazaar’s draw comes from its unique manner of storytelling. Fallen London’s creators experiment heavily with “ideas about coalescent and participatory narrative: using simple choices and mechanics with rich, untidy stories,” according to Chief Narrative Officer Alexis Kennedy. I won’t claim to understand what Alexis is saying (ever), but the minutely detailed world and the whimsical but sophisticated prose built into Echo Bazaar has attracted quite a few members of the ARG community to Fallen London, and likely, to the V&A to join in this one-of-a-kind experience.
The deep decadence of Fallen London is a stark contrast to the realities of running a homegrown, shoestring company. Echo Bazaar’s popularity has presented scalability problems in the past, but scant (often volunteer) assets keep the game running and even growing. The upcoming Prisoner’s Honey, slated for beta this spring, promises to be another ambitious and popular project.
Being approached to put on a live event presented another challenge to the barebones team, since Failbetter Games has no background in offline games and no resources to spare. As curators for Sandpit Night, Hide&Seek suggested A Door In A Wall, live event designers with a knack for physical puzzles, as ideal collaborators. In one of ADIAW’s recent events, A Brush With Death, over 130 participants interacted with 7 live characters, as they investigated the mysterious death of an art critic, exploring dozens of London locations.
The Sandpit is Hide&Seek’s regular evening of social and pervasive games, variously taking place in galleries, railway tunnels, and other spaces. As a “testing ground for new games,” Hide&Seek claims that the Sandpit has seen over fifty games within the last year. An Expedition with Mr Mirrors runs all evening, and participants can dip in and out to explore the museum and check out the other games. The entire event is free, but space may be limited. For specific details, check out the Hide&Seek official event page.