Alternate Reality Games designers, Six to Start recently teamed up with Penguin Books to launch a new website – We Tell Stories – to perform an exercise in digital writing. The 21 Steps is a new thriller that uses Google Maps as a story telling medium, tracking the passage of the mysterious protagonist Rick as he attempts to deliver a strange vial of liquid to Edinburgh and avoid the clutches of a shadowy organisation.
Although I haven’t read past Chapter 9 (each one talks about 2 minutes to get through), it is already pretty engaging. It certainly has an air of Perplex City about and the conspiratorial atmosphere and Big Brother-esque perspective makes it feel like you’re engaging in something like the BBC’s ‘The Last Enemy’ but not bored out of your f*cking skull.
As a modern reinterpretation of fiction, the use of Google Maps to follow the movements of the main character is clever in itself to warrant merit, but this is co-created by the guys behind one of the best ARGs so far, there’s got be more to it that a simple story, right?
It certainly seems so – a mysterious phone number that appears briefly in an occasional loading screen seems to be pointing its way to a deeper mystery. Check it out here.