Live-action video games are a great way to have fun with friends. Like room-escape games, they add an extra element of immediacy to challenges. They can also be instructive.
The Dating Game is a new concept that's currently on Kickstarter (video pitch above). It connects players at home with live actors in a first date scenario streamed from a suitable location. The player instructs the actor on how to deal with various dating misadventures. It’s all for fun, but in theory, it could be of practical use.
Created by London-based Block Stop, the project is currently seeking around $10,000 to pay for actors, studio time and equipment. The team members' previous experience is in performance and in live location games and events.
So how does it work?
Players book a slot with the U.K.-based team, and are connected with the actors. The player sends voice commands direct to the actors, who do whatever they're told. The result is either chaos or romantic perfection.
"The premise is that the character you are guiding is totally rubbish at dating," explains designer Ilayda Arden. "It's your job to guide them and try to help them. There are thousands of possible routes through the game with loads of recognizable first date scenarios and complications to maneuver.
"You speak directly to the playable character, who is wearing a hidden earpiece and a spy-cam. As the game is played live, the actors respond dynamically to your instructions and with no pause or reload, every reaction and instruction counts."
According Arden, each game lasts around an hour and costs about 180 British Pounds ($225) per session. She points out that the game is designed for groups of up to six people, who can share the cost of playing.
Actors are paid a performance fee and are given rest periods between sessions. "The cost of the actors is spread across the price of several games and ensures we can give players the best possible value," adds Arden. "The Dating Game will be more expensive than an off-the-shelf or downloadable video game, but so it should be. It's a different offering.
"We are playing with live-ness and real people responding to your instructions in realtime. It's exciting and unique and captures a special opportunity to be in control of another person's fate."
She added that the game's name is currently a working title, and has no relation to the U.S. TV show of yore.
Although the Kickstarter campaign is off to a relatively slow start, Arden hopes that the idea will catch on.
"The live, real-time, unscripted elements of The Dating Game allow players to experience all the joys and pitfalls of a first date, but from the safety of their own homes, which we think is really cool," she says. "The world of modern dating is so full of rules and potential for success or failure — a game in and of itself — that it lends itself perfectly to our style of live action video games.”
The game could also prove useful to those souls nervous about the perils of real life dating. "Imagine if you could test the water before starting or going back into the dating scene? We always say that the people who play our live action video games help create their own experience - so I guess it's up to the players as to how they make it fun, useful, silly or serious for themselves."