When Barkley’s innovation team was enlisted to “hack” the annual meeting, we decided to break up the monotony of back-to-back Powerpoint presentations with something everyone could participate in. This wasn’t going to be typical “forced fun”. We wanted to encourage passive participation so we focused on 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.