Walk through Rundle Mall on any given day and you have to dodge a constant stream of pedestrians charging forward with their heads buried in their phones. Not all of them are checking Facebook or playing Pokemon Go, though.
Some, are actually playing a live action secret agent role play game. Yep, your heard us. And the phone is all about tracking your missions over the 2 hours of game play.
If you’ve ever wanted to immerse yourself in the world of dead drops, covert surveillance and clandestine rendezvous then Adelaide is exactly where you need to be. The crew from Fire Hazard games have built upon the success of their role playing debut at this year’s Adelaide Fringe to develop an immersive, interactive and evolving real world game on our streets. Using participants’ smartphones, Undercover turns Adelaide’s city centre into the stage for wannabe spies darting around playing 007 among unsuspecting crowds doing their Sunday shopping.
Currently Adelaide is the only city in Australia to have a permanent team operating, with the other being London. Though the team from Fire Hazard do travel to different cities on occasion, the great news for locals is that more often than not, you’ll be able to find a weekend game coming up to participate in. In our experience, the game will take the majority of your afternoon, but you’ll hardly notice the time flying by as you race between tasks.
Our first instructions were to surreptitiously approach a deep cover operative and drop an innocuous codeword into conversation. The game was afoot literally from that moment! For the next two hours, our phones regularly buzzed with instructions to make contact with other operatives, place secret packages in out of the way locations while avoiding detection and find those that others had already hidden.
Best of all, we were instructed to covertly observe rival teams and intercept their drops, encouraging all manner of subterfuge and inappropriate loitering.
There’s a great energy around the game, but should things fall foul there are clandestine observers roaming to ensure that everybody stays within the spirit of the game and dissuade players from blowing their cover by being too obvious.
When every raincoat or umbrella hides a potential spy it’s easy to become paranoid, and that immersive aspect of the game is a large part of its appeal. Nevertheless, the two hour window and time limits on all missions mean that moving quickly and thinking on your feet is just as important as the ability to elude and outfox rivals. Disguises, red herrings and above all a willingness to get right into character make a great game even more enjoyable.
One of the wonderful aspects of the game is also how well the city lends itself to the game. Ducking in and out of shops, through malls and along alleys to lose a tail, sneak up on other players, hide messages or meet with in-game characters is a true joy, and you’ll quickly learn all the shortcuts, ins and outs you need to seamlessly make your way through the city. We should say, the game is contained within limits, so you won’t need your bike or to worry about getting tired out. The adrenaline will keep you going for the duration.
Live gaming is a growing field and Adelaide already has a number of escape rooms, such as Escape Hunt, where you can test your wits. Through imaginative use of everyday technology, Undercover is able to move outside and bring a new perspective to streets that we’ve all walked down countless times. The team behind the event already have plans for their next event ,and we will certainly be playing Raiders Of The Lost Archive when it arrives in Spring.
Fire Hazard are running two more Undercover games in Adelaide on 30 July and 6 August. For more details and to book in advance (which you’ll need to do), register via their website.