Imagine a cocktail party held on the eve of the end of the civilization as we know it. That is the setting for Lights Out, a new pervasive game from the Chicago- based company Rabbit Hole.
As a player, you are a guest at an exclusive gathering held just days before a solar flare will potentially destroy life on earth. The creators of the game, Michelle and Eleanor, sat down with Geek City Guides to talk about this exciting new gaming opportunity. This is the second game for Rabbit Hole. Their first game, produced in 2014, was After the Death Card and was for small groups and enjoyed sold out performances for its 24 date run. "ATDC" was set in an office and the players performed as a team and interacted with one nonplayer character to accomplish a set of tasks and solve a mystery.
Lights Out goes in a new direction. Players are assigned to one of four teams when they arrive at the party. Each team has a certain degree of advantage over one of the four resources that will play a role in their survival in the world of tomorrow. The resources to manage are food, research, batteries, and medicine. Each team will develop their team dynamic and negotiate/manipulate their position in hopes of securing the brightest possible future. There will be mechanics within the game to trade resources with other teams, but the personality of each team is solely determined by the players involved.
The game is broken into three phases. There are five nonplayer characters to explain the rules and facilitate the players in developing their narrative for the game. There are also a handful of functional characters to perform necessary in-game activities, like blackjack dealers, to assist the characters in their resource negotiation. The game has a distinct set of rules and goals to determine the winning team, but how those goals are accomplished is determined by the players' decisions and interactions. Will you be the life of the party or a sly manipulator from the fringe?
Where did Rabbit Hole and Lights Out come from? Michelle and Eleanor worked together in a storefront theater company and have a broad range of theater and gaming experience. Their goal is to create unique experiences where the players can interact and develop their place in a live narrative game. When trying to describe what a player should expect, Michelle and Eleanor explain that even though there are definite theater aspects, "you are not an audience member, you're a player. There aren't actors, they are nonplayer characters. [When you attend], you aren't going to watch, you are going to do." Additionally, Rabbit Hole researches their games so that enough elements of the game are based in real events to make it feel real. The possible apocalypse in Lights Out is based on the 1859 Carrington Event. This solar event created a variety of phenomena across the globe. According to Ed Cliver from the U.S Naval Research Laboratory, "the geomagnetic disturbances were strong enough that U.S. telegraph operators reported sparks leaping from their equipment-- some bad enough to set fires."* You can imagine with the technology of today what could happen. Eleanor pointed out that we probably can relax though about the possibility since she found in her research that solar flares of the that magnitude only happen once in a millennium. However, if she's wrong, you will be one step ahead of your neighbor after playing this game.
Lights Out will be held at Mrs. Murphy and Son's Irish Bistro, 3905 N. Lincoln Avenue. Tickets should be purchased in advance since the number of players is limited each game. Tickets can be purchased here. You have four opportunities to play, July 25, August 1, August 7 and August 8. Food and drink are available throughout the evening and apocalyptic cocktail attire is encouraged. You can find Rabbit Hole on Facebook here. Should you bring a flashlight? I don't know... what would you bring if it was the end of the world?
* from National Geographic