Larkin about with Stranger on the 11th Floor

At the ARG start outside the nexus art cafe on Twitpic

I was invited by Tim Dobson via Facebook to a Manchester ARG (alernative reality game) called Stranger on the 11th Floor setup by a organisation called Larkin about. Never ever heard of them before but I was intrigued and thought i’d give it a shot.

Now I want to be sure people understand that all the comments I have, I did say to them on the day and I think they would admit most of the points I make are fair.

So we started off at the Nexus Art Cafe (somewhere I’ve never actually heard or been before) and we were explained the basic premise of the game, split into 4 different teams, given a map of the northern quarter and some numbers of people in-case things go wrong. Then we were given a clue and location to start. Ours was a phone box in Stevenson Square.

My team pretty much pelted out of the Nexus Cafe and zoomed to the phone box. Later catching up with them, just in time to see one of the girls on the phone. She was given the clue and quickly told a few people around her and before you know it they were treking down the road towards Piccadilly. That was pretty much the last time I saw the team. What a joke…!

I refer to slide 26 and 27 of Dan Hon’s Everything we know transmedia wrong for the rest of the critique.

No more… Waiting, Solving stupid puzzles, Not telling me what to do, Lazy calls to action, Treasure hunts, Jumping through fucking hoops. Bad storytelling is just bad storytelling.

Stranger on the 11th floor turned into a massive treasure hunt with lazy call to actions, annoying hoops to jump through and frankly bad story telling. Once again no offensive to the Larkin’ about crew. They did everything correct and pulling off a open source ARG in the middle of Manchester on a busy Saturday night must have been one heck of a job.

So its time to put up or shutup… I’m thinking about adapting the ARG we tried to run in Edinburgh "We Dream the City" to a ARG in Manchester. This will be one heck of a challenge and will take a long while to get going but in the meantime, I think larkin about is a great place to run the next Manchester werewolf chapter, so keep your eyes peeled for that…

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser. Can be found at, and