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Making Life A Game

by Kirsten Sanford, Jul 24 2009

Last week my friend sent me a picture of a flyer he had seen on the street. It didn’t seem like much at first glance — just some hokum woo — but, on further investigation (because of course you have to investigate hokum woo!) it opened up a whole world of intrigue.

The flyer was for the ‘Vital Orbit™’ Personal Human Force Field.

Personal Human Force Field - note that all the contact tags have been removed

Personal Human Force Field - note that all the contact tags have been removed

At first, I dismissed the picture, and wondered why my friends pick me to send things like this. But, then I started thinking about it a bit more, and I’ll admit my curiosity got the best of me. You can’t see it in this image, but there was a weblink on the flyer for the Jejune Institute and the Vital Orbit product. I checked it out.

Phrases like:

Channels users own Hydrodynamic activities to project a spherical charge armament against all material bodies and organic compounds. Unintended matter undergoes total magnetic reversal (a process called “negativism”).

and:

The Vital-Orbit reduces these basic tenets to a demonstrable formula by harboring hydro-dynamics multiplied by intention (aquatic/thought). It is proven, time tested, bonafide.

had me rolling on the floor.

But, there was more, I noticed. There was a whole website to explore. The products offered are all fabulously imagined devices to make life better, and the Founder… well, his “meet the founder” video is a piece of work.

Everything about this Jejune Institute was simply too good to be true (what is with the 1972 – 2036 copyright? And, seriously… Jejune? The word means dull or insipid, or lacking in knowledge.). I wanted to know more, so I went to Google and YouTube.

In Google, I found an interesting article describing the Jejune Institute as the doorway to an ARG, or alternate reality game, which use the real world as their platform. So, by following the clues laid out before you, you can head quite willingly down the rabbithole of surreal life.

It turns out the game was launched last October (2008), and from the looks of it has gone through a couple of iterations and gathered quite a cult following. There is one flickr photostream dated April 30, 2009 chronicling a fairly large gathering for some scavenger hunt aspect of the game. The institute even has a Yelp page.

Following links, it all appears to be a well thought-out, intricate game. I guess the only way to determine the truth is to take the final step, and actually start playing.

Are you in?

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Making Life A Game, 3.7 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

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15 Responses to “Making Life A Game”

  1. Ranson says:

    For a good look at near-future ARGs, Charles Stross’s novel Halting State is an amazing read.

  2. TuckerK says:

    I’ve got a stub from their flier in my wallet, been meaning to check this thing out for a while; the iconography reminded me of the faux-1950′s look that was created for Fallout3, I assumed it was some sort of ‘game’ from that connection, but an ARG sounds interesting.

    Thanks for saving me the trouble of all that internet sleuthing ;)

  3. MadScientist says:

    Many people actually believe talismans can render them impervious to bullets. Others wouldn’t believe the bullet-warding abilities of talismans but may believe that they can ward off evil spirits and curses or even bring luck. Hey, how many mangled rabbit appendages do you still see attached to keyrings?

    I enjoyed playing “World of Warcraft” for a few months until all the spammers ruined the game. That’s probably the closest to “alternate reality” that I would bother with; there are far too many interesting things to do in the real world and not that much time to do things.

    • Anthony O'Neal says:

      “there are far too many interesting things to do in the real world and not that much time to do things.”

      A greater lie was never told!

    • Peter says:

      Many people actually believe talismans can render them impervious to bullets.

      Be nice if they’d prove it!

      Others wouldn’t believe the bullet-warding abilities of talismans but may believe that they can ward off evil spirits and curses

      Well, I believe that too! Protection from evil spirits and curses and other things that don’t exist is easy! It’s the protection from things that do exist, like bullets, that I have trouble with. (Unless your “talisman” consists of armor plating or something)

  4. oldebabe says:

    Interesting post. The whole thing is a give-away as a joke (rather than another invitation to pseudo-something, which is of course an unintended joke) with the biggest hint to start skeptical juices flowing, the name “Jejune”. Any further lure to continue is if one is a committed `gamer’, it seems to me.

    Did Google start this with its avertisements and descriptions of incredible items that sucked some in until the ridiculousness of the offer was finally evident? Made me smile, yes, but in sort of a nasty, superior way. Of course, it didn’t develop into a `game’… and it had nothing to do with woo… just saying.

  5. specialsomeone says:

    I love how cynical people are who have no idea what this experience is actually like. All comments, observations, criticisms are invalid until you’ve been inducted to the Institute. It’s like writing a review for a movie you’ve never seen. Bunk.

  6. BillDarryl says:

    Reminds me of the Jeanine Salla web-game that was a tie-in to the movie “A.I.” Lots of clues to get to the bottom of a murder/conspiracy at a robotics lab. It was far more interesting then the movie.