Agent in a Box

July brings the start of a new creative collaboration between BOM fellow and experimental game-designer John Sear and artist Katie Day, Artistic Director of the interactive theatre company The Other Way Works, as they embark on the next phase of their playful new production: ‘Agent in a Box’ (AiaB).

John and Katie are fortunate in receiving Arts Council funding to help build a prototype version of their spy-themed game-meets-theatre production.  In AiaB, participants play the role of a new recruit spy who has just checked into a hotel room. On arrival the participant receives a package containing a box of ‘Black Magic’ chocolates.  The bottom layer contains case details – this includes documentation, passports, tickets, photos and the game controller – the Nokia 3310 mobile phone.

The mobile becomes the player’s main interface with the spy world.  With it, they make and receive SMS messages and voice calls from a partner spy working in the field. The partner will be at dinner with the ‘mark’ and will contact the participant when they need information and support. The participant’s main role will then be to assist them in resolving the case!

John and Katie began this project back in 2014 when they received a small grant from Collaboration and Arts Triple Helix (CATH) supported by the University of Birmingham. During this period they built a small ‘proof of concept’ version which demonstrated the ideas and technology involved for the first 10 minutes. AiaB works using the same technology that operates the telephone banking systems. “We are just repurposing them for good!”


 The AiaB proof of concept has been shown at a number of events including ‘Pilot Sites’ in Birmingham ‘Bitesize’ at Warwick Arts Centre and ‘Caravan’ in Brighton.

“This support allows us to take a step back from the original idea, to redevelop story and expand the interaction.  We expect the final experience to be a very unique experience for 20+ people.”

John and Katie will be prototyping and testing AiaB with the public throughout their summer residency.

 Agent in a Box Concept film on Vimeo: