Socks, Inc. One-Ups LittleBigPlanet by Using Real Sock Puppets
ARGs have taken the concept of video games to some odd and wonderful real-world places. Socks, Inc. might not be the first ARG, and LittleBigPlanet might have defined the sock-puppet-based game archetype, but it is the first game to combine ARG and sock puppet elements into one package.
Let's back up. Socks, Inc. was just recently released in Beta. It is the second ARG by Awkward Hug, creators of the underplayed 2009 ARG Must Love Robots. Must Love Robots was a very traditional ARG, largely based on YouTube videos, and failed to stand out like Socks Incorporated likely will.
When a user creates an account on Socks, Inc., they are taken to a YouTube video that explains how to make a sock puppet. It looks pretty quick and easy (if you have a hot-glue gun). Once your puppet is complete, you submit a photo of it to Socks, Inc. and that sock puppet becomes your avatar. The game system is RPG-ish, requiring players to complete quests to gain experience and higher levels for their puppet while progressing through a story. Instead of fetching Orbs of Power from Centaurs of Galadrinesh, however, the quests in this RPG consist of completing real-world activities with your sock puppet, photographing them, and submitting them to Socks, Inc. They verify that you've completed the quest and award experience points accordingly. An example of a quest is eating your favorite food with your sock puppet.
RPG-style ARGs offering in-game rewards for real-life activity seems to be an upcoming fad. Epic Win for iOS allows users to earn RPG rewards for completing their to-do lists. City of Epic is more like Socks, Inc., but based on exercise instead of crafts, whimsy, and photography. Socks, Inc. sounds like the most fun, even if it is the least "productive" of the three. Plus, browsing hilarious pictures of other people's sock puppets engaged in random activities promises to be a game within a game. It should certainly be more appealing than watching City of Epic users work out.
If you want to be an early adopter of Socks, Inc., simply visit the site to create your account, and make a puppet. It's free. If you "Like" the game on Facebook you'll be entered to win a deluxe sock-puppet-making kit, so if you lack the requisite hot glue gun and googly eyes you might want to head there as well. I'll post a picture of my finished and sure-to-be-disgracefully-ugly puppet on the corkboard as soon as it is completed.