Patrick Jagoda

ECHO

alternate reality game

2020

Game Directors: Heidi Coleman and Patrick Jagoda
Platform and Video Design: Marc Downie
Web Designer: Ashlyn Sparrow
Filmmaker and Cinematographer: Ben Kolak
Producers: Heidi Coleman and Patrick Jagoda
Quest Designers: Heidi Coleman, Patrick Jagoda, Kristen Schilt, and Ashlyn Sparrow

Story: Patrick Jagoda and Heidi Coleman
Writer: Patrick Jagoda
Puzzle Designers: Sandor Weisz and Matthew Stein
Scenic Designer: Jessica Wardell
Lighting Designer: Mike Durst and Brandon Wardell
Composer: Jeffrey Levin
Costume Designer: Izumi Inaba
Research Lead: Kristen Schilt
Lead Actors: Kirsten Fitzgerald, Scarlett Kim, Marquez Rhyne, and Dennis Watkins
Netprov Actors: Patrick Jagoda and Heidi Coleman
Video Quests: David Borycz, Alida Bouris, Tate Brazas, Nick Briz, Jim Chandler, Heidi Coleman, James Evans, Kirsten Fitzgerald, Caterina Fugazzola, Melina Hale, Ghenwa Hayek, Patrick Jagoda, Scarlett Kim, Meeta Kumar, Pedro Lopes, Peggy Mason, Noemie Ndiaye, Marquez Rhyne, Jason Riggle, Suzanne Riggle, Jon Satrom, Kristen Schilt, Borja Sotomayor, and Ashlyn Sparrow
Social Media and Communications Student Intern: Peter Forberg
Special Thanks: University of Chicago President’s Office, the Regenstein Library, Tracy McCabe, David Borycz, Elizabeth Long, and Brenda Johnson

ECHO was an alternate reality game developed in response to COVID-19. The game was created to promote the physical and mental wellness of players, spur creativity, build community, and experiment with serious game techniques during the pandemic.

In September, 2020, people discovered an Instagram account by a University of Chicago librarian who was posting videos of strange events occuring at the Regenstein Library. Hidden within these videos were encoded messages from an "echo world" that was similar to our own, except for key divergences, including the lack of the COVID-19 pandemic. This echo world announced that in a month, a portal between our worlds would open, and that their world invited us to pass a series of challenges to determine whether we were ready to receive access to portal technology.

On September 29, ECHO fully began with an opening Spotify and Instagram based puzzle that unlocked the game and attracted approximately 4,000 unique views. On October 9, the Fourcasters welcomed 52 core teams to compete for three weeks by completing 88 quests including several video quests created by University of Chicago faculty. These quests were meant to prepare players for the ultimate test issued by the echo world. On October 30, the game concluded with a 90-minute live-streaming event that began with a collectively adjudicated interactive narrative format (a video-based "Choose Your Own Adventure" style narrative) that revealed a portal to another world. The portal split the audience of players into three separate rooms: a puzzle room, a story room, and a magic room. Players completed challenges in each room before returning to a space where they could compile what they had achieved and decide which character they wanted to send to the other world.

An article overview of the game with images published by UChicago News.

The original quest list and leaderboard with 88 quests.