Sam Barlow’s follow up to Her Story is #WarGames, an interactive video series that reimagines the 1983 film WarGames in a more present day context. It’s not exactly a game, but it’s definitely still interesting. Here are the top things you should know about it before diving in.
What is it?
#WarGames isn’t much like anything else out there. It’s like watching a TV show, but the whole thing is told through different screens, which primarily show different characters video chatting with one another. All of these screens are visible at once, but you can tap to switch between which feed you want to focus on.
While you’re watching, #WarGames keeps track of which video feeds you’ve focused on and changes your story’s arc depending on these choices. It’s not really obvious what you’re changing though. There are no moments when a character is begging for attention and you can switch to them to trigger some kind of choice. It’s a lot more subtle than that, so much so it's hard to tell that you're changing anything. That said, #WarGames definitely lets you know when things change, and even gives you an overview of the paths you took at the end of each episode.
Is it good?
With #WarGames occupying this unique space between TV show and game, it begs the question: Is it worth your time? The short answer to this question is yes. In its first episode, #WarGames sets up an incredibly detailed world full of interesting characters and somehow manages to make some goofy hacking hijinks feel real and tense. Oh yea, and it manages to do this in just the first 11 minutes of airtime.
As a “game,” #WarGames may feel lacking in the in some respects, specifically in your ability to feel agency over what is happening, but overall I think that makes #WarGames that much more exciting. There’s no moment where you have to make a Walking Dead-style choice where you choose to save someone over someone else. Everything is kind of "hidden behind the scenes" and it makes the whole experience feel like a natural story instead of a flow chart of choices.
How do I get it?
To experience #WarGames for yourself, it’s not as easy as just searching for it on the App Store. The game (or experience, or whatever) is available through eko, which is an app that specializes in “interactive media,” primarily in the form of things like #WarGames.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, starting #WarGames is a snap, as it’s being featured on the app’s front page already. Simply tap into it to load up the first episode and get going. Keep in mind you’ll be streaming these episodes though unless you scroll down on the show’s page and download episodes beforehand.
What’s the catch?
#WarGames is a pretty awesome experience, but there are a few quirks with using eko that might put you off of diving in. The first is that #WarGames is ad-supported, meaning you’ll be watching commercials before and after episodes. It’s nice that these don’t interrupt the episodes themselves, but they can still be a little annoying.
The other thing is that eko is iPhone only, meaning that there’s not really a good way to enjoy #WarGames on a larger screen. This isn’t a huge deal, but considering every video feed in the show is only a portion of your screen to begin with, there are certain elements that can be hard to read or discern, particularly if you own an iPhone SE.
All in all though, #WarGames is an awesome, unique thing. So definitely go download eko and check it out for yourself.