Barkley’s innovation team was asked to “hack” the annual meeting, so we invented a 400 player space game powered by screams.
Annual meetings are typically not the most exciting events, usually consisting of back-to-back Powerpoint presentations to an uninvolved audience. We decided to break up the monotony by creating something everyone could take part in. We wanted to avoid a “forced fun” situation so we devised a way to encourage passive participation. Our solution was to use an input the audience could supply without much effort: sound.
Instead of one experience, we created three theater sized games to be played on the big screen at different points throughout the day. Each game was set in a tabletop universe with hands and office supplies as characters. Then, a range of sound types were chosen to control them. Level one started with any noise sustained at a certain volume to power up and launch a rocket. Level two split the crowd in half so each side became the rudder to an obstacle dodging spaceship. Level three tested the audience’s skills by executing specific phrases in unison to keep our astronaut dancing and kickoff the closing festivities.
The game’s soul was inspired by classic arcade machines, with on-screen prompts and corny sound effects. The UI was kept to a bare minimum, treating our gameplay like a movie and providing just enough feedback for the audience to understand how to adjust their noise making. And since we had no extra lives, we used a live configuration interface to toggle volume thresholds and microphone sensitivity in real time so that our players couldn’t lose. Read an article about the entire design process here.