The McKinnon Account
February 17, 2015 9:12 AM   Subscribe

The McKinnon Account
A short story about your first day working at Hunter, Brown & Shen, told over the course of a single morning via several emails and a few text messages. Once you've registered, it begins for you at 9am the next day. (For extra verisimilitude, sign up on a Sunday so it plays out while you're at work of a Monday morning.) Call it an ARG without the G?

My pal Ben Scofield built the platform McKinnon uses. He's a champ and also the best... around.

This is a small experiment in creating something that feels immersive and real-time, but doesn't require nor allow any true interaction. I have a theory that people want to feel the emotional texture of having performed influential tasks in a story or game, but mostly don't want to do the actual work. So: completely passive but it feels like something interactive. I'm planning to take what I learn from this and build out a longer experience in the fall or winter that plays out over a few weeks instead of a few hours.

International phone numbers won't get texts, alas, but they do still get those messages in email.
Role: writer/creator
posted by Andrhia (8 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I just signed up. Outside the US so no sms, but I am still highly interested in this. I also wholeheartedly agree with your whole idea of people wanting accomplishment without actually working for it. I will be back tomorrow with an actual comment on the material. Yay!
posted by Literaryhero at 10:12 PM on February 18, 2015

Eeeee, I can't wait to hear what you think! Just be sure to check your spam filters, early on the emails from Leon were getting trapped. I *think* it's fine now, but better safe than sorry. :)
posted by Andrhia at 9:41 AM on February 19, 2015

I enjoyed this! I found the concept quite intriguing, and really dug your theory about the feeling of task completion vs. actual work.

For me, the whole story happened quickly. That said, I think I missed several of the emails early on, and caught up on the story in spurts rather than consuming them at a steady clip. In a few instances, I had a "Oh that's right!" moment, and went to go check my email to see if I had missed an update.

The one stumble I experienced was with the "It's True" message. I wasn't expecting things to go in that direction, and had to kind of re-align myself as to the kind of story I was experiencing.

At the end, I found myself wishing I could have influenced things some more. But perhaps I'm just saying that and wouldn't like it as much if I were required to interact at each turn.

I liked the concept a lot, and thought this was really well executed. Looking forward to hearing others' reactions, and also to your next project this fall/winter!
posted by avoision at 8:53 AM on February 20, 2015

I loved it and felt disappointed that it wasn't longer. My phone announced each new email so I went through them incrementally, which was cool.

However, the last two emails, one from Leon and one from HR (?) have the same timestamp but I saw the Leon one first and missed the HR one until much later. I feel like maybe the HR email should be sent a couple minutes before the Leon one, but what do I know?

This is awesome.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:37 PM on February 20, 2015

Ah I see it now. Leon's message should be sms but I am outside the US so it came as email. I rescind my complaint!
posted by Literaryhero at 4:47 PM on February 20, 2015

But when I went to login and check the history, it turns out email addresses are case sensitive. I accidentally used when I signed up, so it wouldn't let me read the history with That is nitpicking though. I still love it!
posted by Literaryhero at 4:50 PM on February 20, 2015

Hey, thanks for the kind words! I am delighted beyond all expectation at how much you like it! I've flagged the case-sensitive thing, and I'll make sure the developer puts in a note about it being case-sensitive.

So timing. It's a fine balance for a short thing like this -- there's a risk people won't be checking email often enough and get things out of order, as has happened here. I'm not sure there's a fix for a shorter story, but certainly for the longer work this can be addressed in two ways -- keeping stuff that happens in a single day under one subject line, so it gets threaded, and spacing email out by hours, rather than minutes. I'm not quite sure what a reasonable volume of email is, actually, for something that lasts six or eight weeks. Certainly not ten emails every day, but maybe ten some days, and mostly one to three. Hmm. Hmmmmm.

Anyway, I'm so glad you liked my thing. Thank you for trying it!
posted by Andrhia at 8:30 AM on February 21, 2015

I really really liked this! Wished it were longer. If you want any feedback or assistance brainstorming the longer project, definitely let me know - I'd love to help out in any capacity.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 8:53 PM on March 29, 2015

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