Idea for...: a novel
Condition: semi-complete pitch
Price: £15.99 inc p+p
Deuces Wilde are the kind of edgy game-dev company where every kid wants their internship. Run by Kate Wilde (late twenties, notorious gambler and restless entrepreneur, voted one of the ‘Top 20 Influential Women in Tech’ by Forbes), Deuces Wilde are characterised by unfettered experimentation, PR stunts, all-night design sessions and cool, addictive AR and VR games.
For Ella MacFarlane, 16, principled, ambitious and determined to one day work at Google, the internship is a dream come true. She’s one of only two students to get it; the other, Cameron Fencer, 17, is an uprooted Australian design-genius who’s taken a year-out to run his own online gaming channel. Wilde takes a shine to her new recruits and gives them a project; a live-action game in early play-test called Hammertown.
Hammertown is a chase-and-collect game; players use GPS to locate hidden caches of virtual gifts and compete to amass their collections. There’s a nascent Bitcoin market for these virtual prizes (called ‘glyphs’). Under Ella and Cameron’s enthusiastic leadership, the game is expanded, completed and goes live. The two of them review and oversee player behaviour, modifying the game for each evening’s live session. Night-on-night membership grows and the glyph-market explodes. Soon, everyone’s playing Hammertown and rare glyphs are trading for huge amounts of money.
The game becomes a monster that requires constant feeding; improvements, updates, competitions. Then, the first Hammertown murder. A player is assaulted and killed during live-play and his glyphs stolen. The tragedy happens at the same time as a hostile takeover changes Deuces Wilde irreversibly. The Hammertown database has become a priceless resource for behavioural science (an account of thousands of people’s decisions and actions under-pressure) and a mysterious Cambridge Analytica-style tech company acquire it. Kate Wilde is replaced. The game gets nastier.
There’s only one way to stop the monster they’ve created: Ella and Cameron will have to sabotage Hammertown… from the inside.