Vanishing Point a cult classic? (Not the movie!)
There’s a game going on around us. A bit like Myst or The DaVinci Code, except it’s not fiction — it’s real. Well, sort of. It is still a game after all. A complex, extremely ambitious game of puzzles with an extremely ambitious set of prizes. How ambitious? Well, do you want to see Earth from space? You can get that Vista by winning the puzzle solving contest. You can also get your name laser-etched on a line of AMD computer chips. Not your everyday prize basket, to be sure. But back to the game….
What makes it unique is that it brings real-life artifacts, if not real life itself, into the game. The game literally announced itself to the world on 8-January-2007 at the Bellagio — interrupting the fountain display with something more interesting: a clock chiming, a voice, and then a giant face in the mist of the fountain. The woman in the mist, Loki, proceeded to announce the game and showed a series of puzzles, as well as a website: www.vanishingpointgame.com. After you’ve seen the link above, check out a higher quality version of the "meat" of the video here. Very cool.
Five days later, residents of Miami, LA, Sydney, and other cities may have noticed some unusual sky writing…. a new set of clues. On 20-Jan, something else will happen at locations in North America, Europe, and Asia, presumably providing more clues to the game. And on 27-January, something will happen in Seattle.
Microsoft commissioned the game as part of it’s launch activities for Windows Vista, the new operating system five years in the making. Inside the company, people believe this will be the company’s biggest product launch since Windows95. At that time, buying ad space above the banner of a major world newspaper (was it the Daily Telegraph in London?) seemed like "over-the-top" stuff. A lot has changed in 12 years, and just as Windows Vista blows Windows95 away, the launch team had to step up it’s own game to keep up. The prize idea for a trip into space apparently came from the some folks in room trying to figure out where to send people for the "ultimate vista" (a nice play on "Windows Vista Ultimate" version of the OS)… someone suggested space, and it turns out money can make a lot of things possible. :-)
Bottom Line: Vanishing Point is not a game you play on a board, or on a computer. It’s a game you play on a planet, and maybe in the heavens — which one lucky person will get to see up close and personal. Fitting for as a "Launch", and especially for one that can change the world the way Vista can. Will this game become a cult classic? Not in the sense that you can play and replay, but it’s significant step on the continued blending of our digital and physical worlds that in the future may evoke the same kind of nostalgia as a cult classic. "I remember when…."
Of course, there’s another view: that this is simply a contrivance — the worst of commerce masquerading as art. Pretentious and ultimately dull.
What’s your view?