The Time-o-Matic Travelator

The Time-o-Matic Travelator was a cross-media locative game developed for Curtin University’s Open Day, with the intention of showcasing Curtin’s commitment to innovation, as well as the campus itself.

Visitors to Open Day joined the game simply by sending an SMS. From there, they were guided across the campus to perform a variety of challenges that incorporated SMS/WAP clues, prerecorded phone messages, a variety of physical media, and objects in the environment. Players came across these challenges by discovering special business cards distributed through various Open Day venues. Fourteen cards and challenges were available, but players only needed to find and complete six to win a prize. As such, the game promoted non-linear exploration and discovery in the vein of a typical festival experience, while taking players on an enjoyable journey through some of the lesser-known aspects of Curtin. A lightweight and humorous narrative about time travel brought it all together.

View the promotional website.

Apparatus

Players found numerous time traveler business cards scattered across the campus. Each card had a unique puzzle on the back.
Some challenges required players to think outside the box, emphasizing the festival’s “curiosity” theme. This card had writing that only appeared when held near an ultraviolet lamp.
Many challenges encouraged players to pay close attention to their surroundings, and the campus itself. Here, a sculpture served as an important clue.
Tying the sci-fi premise into Curtin’s commitment to innovation in a plausible fashion was a major design goal. The fake research poster here was posted alongside other, real posters.
Flyers distributed across campus, like this one, served as challenge clues. But they also built connections between the time travel theme and real activities at Curtin that would be of interest to potential students.
Some of the game materials were particularly prominent. This poster was hung in the bookstore’s front display area.

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