Reuben Feels were asked by Blazinstar and cyber-security company Symantec to create an immersive theatre experience based around the Cyber Readiness Challenge – a 200 player ‘Capture the Flag’ hacking game to take place at the 2500 attendee Symantec Vision conference in Barcelona. We needed to engage as many people as possible across two days of the conference in order to recruit 200 ‘InfoSec’ (Information Security) experts for the challenge. We were also tasked with spreading awareness and excitement about the game beyond the confines of the conference. In short: How do we get 200 people excited about what they do at work every day, and how do we show their clients how important their work is?
We created a Corporate Espionage Thriller, to take place over two days of the conference, with a cast and crew of over 25 people. To ensure reach of all 2500 conference attendees, we wove our story through 7 different channels, with live performance at the core of the experience. We created two corporations and a hacker activist group, all in conflict with each other, eventually drawing players into the drama and using their actions at Cyber Readiness Challenge to conclude the story. Conference attendees found themselves recruited by the spacefaring mega-corporation EntraDyn Corp, led by the young, tough CEO Alex Lockwood.
Alex and her team of recruiters stalked the conference in search of the world’s best and brightest hackers – information security experts – to take part in a Top Secret project. Rumours abound that EDC are up to something illegal, represented by our Symantec-branded News Broadcasts shown on screens and digital towers through-out the venue, reinforced the idea that hacking and data theft are global issues of serious consequence, driving attendees to sign up to EDC’s ‘Challenge’.
In the first keynote of the conference, seen by over 2500 attendees, we screened a ‘Recruitment Video’, hosted by Alex Lockwood for EDC. It became clear very quickly that something was very wrong at the conference, as the recruitment video was ‘hacked’ by the Free Orbit Society.
Meanwhile, all across the conference, attendees were hounded by investigative journalist Liz Saunter, desparate to find the truth about Alex Lockwood. What is the mission they’ve been signed up for? What does EDC really want? And who is the hacker ‘Corinth’?
After a long days recruiting, Alex and her recruiters retired to their hotel. Overnight, sign ups to the game rocketed. Day 2: The day of the Cyber Readiness Challenge. As players arrived at the challenge location, they were greeted by Tim Sweeney, Alex’s right hand man. Mistreated by his boss, but nevertheless a genius, Tim restated the importance of the “game” – somebody has been hacking into EDC, and stealing top secret information. As the world’s top infosec experts, it was the players task to discover the hackers identity.
Players hacked into a real computer network, collecting secret information which, when pieced together, revealed a shocking truth: EDC were not ‘being hacked’, they were receiving funds illegally from technology black-marketeers RK Industries. The hacking was a ruse manufactured by EDC to deflect suspicion, and the players were being framed for the breach. The game now became a race against time for players to clear their names, with unexpected assistance from ‘Corinth’, revealed to be Giles Knox, Alex Lockwood’s predecessor at EDC who was sacked and his pension plan stolen when he discovered his employer’s duplicity. As player’s delved deeper into EDC’s networks, Alex Lockwood began to see her plans unravelling around her: she was being outwitted, beaten, by the players of the Cyber Readiness Challenge.
In 24 hours, we gathered just under 196 sign-ups for the Cyber Readiness Challenge (capacity 200) with no press-coverage of the event. In terms of conference reach, we engaged with nearly 100% of the conference attendees and our #CyberReady hashtag was used over 300 times over the 3 days of the conference. The #CyberReady hashtag achieved a reach of over 50,000 with the character’s interactions on Twitter reaching a further 25,000.