Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Socks Incorporated Puts Old Socks to Good Use

We may just have come across the best case of old school meets new world that we have ever seen. The fine folks at the indie game company Awkward Hug have just launched Socks, Inc., an alternate reality game played with good old fashioned sock puppets.

All it takes to get started is a sock and a little imagination. The first step is to create your real-life wool, cotton or silk avatar, with suggested googley eyes and perhaps yarn hair. Jim Babb, creator of Socks Incorporated noted, "You do need a sock puppet to play Socks, Inc., but that is about the only requirement. We don’t dictate how you make your puppet and in fact encourage wild creativity. The heart of the game is 'handcrafted fun.' The idea for using sock puppet avatars came from wanting to lower the bar of entry. Anybody can make a sock puppet!"

So once you've created your footwear masterpiece, log on to and dive into the digital world of the Socks Incorporated Factory, "Where we make believe." The basic premise of the game is that your puppet will be working in a company in Socksburg created by Beauregard Barnsworth, the largest employer of sock puppets in the whole world. To start, your sock will need to submit a video cover letter to Barnsworth. Once you are hired it's time to explore the departments and tackle your missions.

Jim described the game play, "Each department is hosted by its own sock puppet character whose story is told through a series of short videos. These videos end with a call to action for the player to create and submit a bit of storytelling multimedia (either a picture or a video). When they submit their content, they unlock more videos."

So for example, The Champ, who runs the Athletic department, will send your sock on a mission to play his favorite sport or do a workout routine. Once you upload photos or videos of your puppet in action completing the task, new videos and missions will be unlocked. Currently in beta, the game will eventually include badges that are earned by other players voting for your videos or accomplishing certain tasks within the game.

Jim took us on a tour of Socks, Inc. "The factory is full of wacky and interesting characters — from the whimsical and delightful Basil in the Groundskeeping department to super forgetful Bob in the R&D (Rhythm & Drums) department. However there is a main department that takes the player on an epic journey through the entire factory and even to another dimension. This story follows Mr. Barnsworth (the bossman or, er, boss-sock), his daughter Jenny and Gary. They have to team up with a pair of wacky paranormal investigators, think 'X Files,' to solve a strange mystery."

The game is the brainchild of Jim and his team at Awkward Hug who "focus on creating games in the awkward space between the digital and real-world." According to Jim, "The idea for Socks, Inc. was born out of a meditation on the general lack of innovation within the game industry… We see a huge potential for imaginative play and unique experiences in this space. We draw inspiration from traditional video games, but broaden our field of vision to include the real-world."

So get out your bag of mateless socks and let your imagination run wild. And watch for us at Socks, Inc. We'll be the two sister socks who are never apart.

For related stories check out:
Awesome People Hanging Out Together
This Is Not Your Nephew's Video Game

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