We love seeing Scout Books used in new and interesting ways. When we saw the way Take 3 Presents were using Scout Books to enrich their event experience, we had to reach out and ask for more. We spoke with designer Jenna Steely about how they used their books to bring extra credibility to the event.
Can you tell us a bit about The Keepers of the Constants?
The Keepers of the Constants are a secret society of people who are sworn to protect the world from assured destruction. But in a larger sense, it’s an ARG that my partner Thomas Koff and I developed for an immersive theatrical gathering this summer. It was a game that layered on top of the weekend to encourage the 1,000+ attendees to interact with the various art projects, drive the narrative, and give them a mission (should they choose to accept it.)
How did the idea to make a book come up?
Thomas, who is the experiential artist brain behind the whole thing, went through a number of ideas before coming up with the book. It needed to be a way to A) track the player’s progress throughout the game, B) be analog, due to the remote location far from cell towers or wifi, and C) be a memorable artifact that people would want to hold on to after the weekend is over. Eventually we concluded that a book would be the best form factor.
How did you find Scout Books?
As a designer, I’ve come across Scout Books here and there—usually in a swaggy marketing context, so I knew that you made exactly the type of book we wanted: pocket-sized, customizable, cool hipster kraft paper cover, functional as both a guide and a notebook.
What is the concept for the experience?
The weekend was woven around a central plotline: a known conspiracy theorist had predicted that a giant pie was hurtling through space and set to hit the earth that Saturday night. His theory was confirmed by a respected baker and everyone on the premises was trying to figure out how to prevent the coming armageddon… (Pi)e2K. The Keepers, having saved the world many times over, were prepared to step up and do their duty—but their numbers had dwindled and they needed recruits. However, they don’t just take anyone—you have to prove your worth by solving a series of challenges.
So the book functioned as a cryptic recruiting device. There were five challenges: some easy, others more complex and requiring you to explore the art and grounds and solve a variety of puzzles along the way. The final challenge was the induction ceremony. Only the most devout were able to uncover the time and location of this secret ritual.
You’ll notice everything is written in verse, which added to the mystery. Design-wise, we leaned heavily on the theme of “sacred geometry” to lend a sort of bullshit mystical vibe. And Thomas has a strong black-and-white theme to all of his art, which was fun to carry through in the book design. We also painted 40 or so bakers hats and aprons with black-and-white patterns, and all the other real-world touchpoints for the game were marked with the black-and-white patterns as well. Branding is important, even in games—and having these books printed brought a real legitimacy to the event experience that would otherwise have been missing.
What is your favorite challenge from the book?
The e challenge sent participants to six other art pieces to collect stamps. A key reason we did an ARG is to provide some structure for engagement, so this encouraged people to explore and play with the different art experiences. For example, you would get your stamp from the cow pie rodeo after you took a turn riding the giant bucking mechanical pie slice.
I also found the 0 challenge to be hilarious. Basically in order to complete it, you don’t do anything. Get it? Zero?
Huge thanks to Jenna for taking the time to share the story of the event with us! You can find more about Jenna and Thomas via their websites.