Friday, 13 May 2011

Sock it to me

My vintage sock puppets.
Prepare to work your socks off at Socks Inc., the factory where we make believe. Socks Inc. is the largest employer of sock puppets in the world and if you play your cards right, you too could be hired, today! All you have to do is make your own sock puppet (you can find a tutorial here), go the website and get started. Socks Inc. will send you on countless storytelling missions that will keep you on your toes.

To begin, you log in to the website using either the Facebook login button, or an off-Facebook login for younger players, and enter the factory. This game is not played in real time, which means you can play whenever you like, for as long as you like, and even replay your favourite missions. The main storyline is explored in the boss’, Mr. Barnsworth’s, office, with other themes, stories and missions available in
the other departments. Enticingly, the webpage has a few empty slots left for future departments and added content, and the promise of future live events.

Socks Inc. employees are sent out into a world of storytelling adventures, which are usually introduced by one of the many colourful characters running the different departments. Once you have accepted a mission, you and your sock puppet avatar go into the real world to complete it, and this is where the potential for creativity kicks in. Given the task of recording your sock puppet rapping, you could just download the beat and rap a few lines. Or, you could spend days building a set and directing a full-blown music video. Whatever you come up with, the next step is to upload your picture or video onto the Socks Inc. site, where it becomes visible on your profile page and can get responses from other players. (If you happen to have made a particularly embarrassing attempt, there is also an option to make your video private so only you can view it.) As you complete each mission, you unlock more adventures, stories, and badges. Progress is measured on a gauge and a progress bar on your profile page.

I know I’m looking forward to trying this game out with my kids, and this is why: we can play together when it suits our busy schedules. My son is good with technology and my daughter is creative; this is a game in which they can explore their complementary skills constructively. Mostly, Socks Inc. just looks like a whole lot of fun to play.

Even more information in my article at ARGNet, and a competition!
Also check out my article on Wired.

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