[in]visible belfast: the game

[in]visible belfast was an alternate reality game or (ARG) designed and produced by Danielle Barrios-O’Neill and Alan Hook in 2011, with support and cooperation from the University of Ulster, Queen’s University Belfast, FilmTrip, Ltd., and a variety of local businesses and arts organizations in Belfast.

In the game, players follow Ana, a student of astronomy, on a mysterious quest through a labyrinthine version of Belfast, in the hopes of answering the question asked in the game’s first chapter: What lies at the heart of the city? 

En route to solving the mystery, players engage with some of the great voices of English, Irish and world literature, by solving clues and following the trail of narrative crumbs across multiple websites, social media platforms, and in the real city of Belfast. In the real-time progression of the game, players reveal the city that is unseen: Invisible Belfast.

[in]visible belfast was designed to provide an interactive experience of Belfast that engages with its historical and cultural heritage, as well as its multifaceted relationships with other world literatures.

Thematically and structurally, the game endorses translation, collaboration, and various modes of networked cultures both digital and analogue. It conceives Belfast as constructed of many interlinked histories, whose interactions produce fascinating and unusual forms. 

The interconnections and linkages that the game forms through its interaction with the players can be an educational tool, engaging students and non-students with the rich culture of the city.

[in]visible belfast was designed as a flagship project in the literary arts, giving rise to further innovative projects that forefront the literature of Belfast, and creating and fostering progressively more avenues for dynamic education in the city.

The game ran from May to June 2011, coinciding with the 2011 Belfast Book Festival.

UPDATE: BBC Radio 4 adapted [in]visible belfast into a radio documentary! Read all about it here.