I’ve never actually watched Big Brother, but I have definitely seen clips of the infamously streamed house. So, I am aware that Big Brother, much like other forms of reality TV, thrives on characters with big personalities and the conflict that comes from putting those personalities into confined spaces. And this is the crux on which THIS IS REALITY 2000 is built.
THIS IS REALITY 2000 transports its participants back to the turn of the millennium. Objective Entertainment has created 12 distinct personas with lots of room for individual interpretation of the characters at hand; they are all given gender-neutral names so any person can play any character. A couple of days before my booked performance, I pick my character – Ashley Sugar, the sweetheart. Ashley is an Essex hairdresser with a penchant for pink, who loves Britney Spears and just wants to make friends.
After making my choice, I am sent a character pack, with a few fun bits of trivia about who I’ll be portraying, and a list of secret objectives, that I’m not to open until instructed to do so.
I file away Ashley’s main attributes and forget about her until the day of the performance. 15 minutes before the start, I dig out a pink top, get comfortable in front of my laptop, squeeze a wig into two bouncy pigtails, and pop some glitter on my face. (Ashley feels like someone who likes sparkles.) A countdown whiles away the minutes and at 6pm, we start.
There is a helpful introduction video where the housemaster explains how the experience will work, as well as the mechanics of Zoom, (for those who have managed to get through this year without becoming intimately familiar with its workings).
The housemaster prompts each housemate to unmute their microphones, turn on their cameras and enter – it is so fun to see how each participant has interpreted their character as they flash onto the screen. It takes a couple of minutes to get into the swing of things; the introductions are a bit stilted, as one might expect with the art form of Zoom theatre. But, once we head into the first day of our imaginary fortnight, there is nary a dull moment.
With each ‘day’ lasting about 5 minutes and each character with their own secret objectives to achieve every day, the hour and a half of play time goes by in a flash. Each day comes with a different set of group tasks, as well as a little bit of context of what has happened to our cohort prior to the active part of the day.
After about 10 minutes, I feel Ashley take over my body. Her peppy, smiley, bubbly personality is catching, and I find myself wishing that she were real because I really want to be friends with her! I’m actually quite sad to put her away at the end of the experience.
As you may have noticed, I don’t feel I can quite call THIS IS REALITY 2000 a show. It is more than that. Objective Entertainment have successfully created a beautiful hybrid of media, role-play games, and Zoom theatre shows. It shines in the age of Zoom quizzes and online hangouts. The housemaster guides the experience seamlessly, ensuring that everything is kept on track while people explore the ins and outs of their created characters.
It feels endlessly playable. With so many characters all interacting with each other, there are infinite options: new relationships to explore, new secret objectives to meet, different ways to play each character.
THIS IS REALITY 2000 is a beautifully choreographed, interactive online game that is what you make of it, and I for one cannot wait to play again. I’m already picking out my next costume.
THIS IS REALITY 2000 is currently playing online. For more information and to book a game for yourself, visit the Objective Entertainment website.
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