By former Sponsored Artist Andy North
Hello! I’m Andy North. I was a sponsored artist with High Concept Labs last summer, designing big physical games. On May 2nd, hcl is hosting a performance of my newest game, called Double Danger Room.
Double Danger Room is a storytelling game. It’s like participatory theatre, though you don’t participate by acting a role (though there’s room for that if you’re so inclined)—you participate by playing. Winning and losing, and how you win or lose, affects what happens next to you and your team. Over the course of about 90 minutes, all your triumphs and setbacks will become your team’s personal story, like a summer blockbuster starring you and your friends.
And the story of Double Danger Room is pretty bleak: your team is a ragtag group of survivors in a world being overrun by monsters. You can trust the members of your team, but that’s about it—the rest of the world (played by me) is going to try to destroy you.
If you succeed you might get some cool gloves or a sword
that shoots lightning bolts, and if you fail you’ll get eaten.
So you’re going to race across a bridge to escape the horde of mutants chasing you, then blow it up behind you so they can’t follow. You’ll build dodgeball cannons to hold off waves of cannibal bandits. As your teammates work to disarm the antimatter bomb your arch-nemesis has placed at the heart of the city, you’ll man the barricades with a nerf blaster and defend them against an army of walking metal skeletons. And if you succeed you’ll know you’ve earned it, because I will be doing my best to kill you and your friends.
Like I said before, the show’s participatory theatre, and that participation can takes a bunch of different forms. If you just want to show up and play, that’s great, that’s what you’ll do. But typically people show up wanting to play as someone else, even if it’s just a slightly tougher or cooler version of their real selves, and there are special challenges and rewards for those people too. Somebody needs to negotiate with the Shadow Corporation, after all, or intimidate the Chrome Demons. And if you succeed you might get some cool gloves or a sword that shoots lightning bolts, and if you fail you’ll get eaten.
And Double Danger Room, is going to be extra important for two reasons. First, the day is being documented by DesignEgg, run by a fantastic pair of people who are donating their time as an in-kind grant to get some high-quality photos and videos of the game in action.
Those photos and videos are going to be used to spread the word about Double Danger Room for a project this summer. Thanks to a grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, I’m going to be able to run an 8-week series of shows around Chicago—shows just like Double Danger Room, but with an added emphasis on physical fitness. I’m planning that out now with the help of some very smart athletic trainers, and with their ideas this is going to be brilliant. Not only will we be able to tell a big sprawling Lord of the Rings-style epic story, we’ll be able to introduce our players to a bunch of different non-competitive physical activities and provide resources for them to carve out a space for physical activity in their lives after the program’s done. Double Danger Room on May 2nd will be a sort of proof-of-concept for the program, so if you come and enjoy it, you can be first in line to join us this summer.
I need to point out here that all of this stuff is thanks to High Concept Labs. Last summer they taught me how to apply for grants and put me in touch with a bunch of talented and generous people that I’ve had the chance to work with since then, like The Hideout, the band Exit Ghost, Mana Contemporary Chicago and the other sponsored artists who were the type of incredible professionals who inspire you to bust your ass to try and live up to their example. hcl is not making me write this. In fact I’m going to check and make sure they don’t cut it out, as they are humble to a fault.
Come and play with us on May 2nd! We’ll finish at 4 PM so we can all go celebrate afterwards. Wear comfortable shoes.
Double Danger Room
Saturday, May 2
2 PM / FREE
High Concept Labs
2233 S Throop St, Chicago, IL
(inside Mana Contemporary Chicago; enter on Cermak Rd)