What if, for a few months this fall, your town/neighborhood changed – became the site of three warring factions, each striving to gain eminence, each with people they are trying to protect? And even the newspaper was not immune to their petty rivalries and challenges?
What if you were invited to join one of the factions, to match wits with others in a secret society as slowly, slowly streets you thought you knew well and objects you pass every day – yielded up their secrets? And each time you figured something out, those less fortunate would gain, with the ultimate prize being entry to an invitation-only display of wealth, power and beauty? (and fun too!)
Welcome to “Picture the Impossible,” an alternate reality game created by the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, with technical development funded by Bing, that combines the thrill of intellectual pursuit with the footwork of geocaching games and the connoisseurs’ eye for art.
Contestants will compete for prizes they can win for themselves from Kodak while at the same time helping charities including Foodlink, Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong and Wilson Commencent Park. The culmination of the game is the invite-only ball on Halloween, where 300 contestants who have scored high enough in the challenges can attend. (We are co-sponsoring the party too!)
To keep it lively, game activities will focus on a different theme related to Rochester, including imaging, social justice, food, music, arts and crafts, and “Rochester firsts.” The puzzles – to be found online, in the newspaper each week, and at locations/festivals around Rochester – draw from Rochester’s rich historical background of “picturing the impossible” – (Kodak, Xerox, Bausch & Lomb, and Pictometry were all founded in Rochester), and Rochester was hole to historical figures such as Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass who themselves were ahead of their time. It won’t be enough to play the online version of the game – the newspaper will have tangible clues found only in its pages, while local puzzles by SCVNGR will challenge folks to explore an area they thought they knew.
What rocks for all of us in Seattle, of course, is that Bing Maps will be a key part of the online game play as both reference and part of the puzzles. We are very excited to showcase the rich, visual data Bing Maps can provide while at the same time allowing people to just have fun with Bing! For the curious game developers in the crowd, Chris Pendleton, Bing maps evangelist, will be posting information in a few weeks about how the technical integration piece worked for Picture the Impossible.
Though you can become a fan of the game anytime on Facebook, registration opens September 5th , while the game itself runs September 12th through October 31st (the ball is on Halloween of course). Sign up at www.picturetheimpossible.com!
Betsy Aoki, Bing Program Manager