Routes: discover the secrets in your genes

“Is your destiny mapped out in your genes? Play Routes over the next 8 weeks and find out. Dig deep enough and who knows what secrets you might uncover…?”

The frontier fields of bio-technology and genetic research get together with immersive storytelling to deliver a cutting edge alternate reality gaming experience which aims at creating awareness about the power of DNA and its effects on our everyday lives. 

Channel 4 Education commissioned interactive drama and entertainment studio Oil Productions Inc. to produce an educational ARG directed towards teenagers. They came up with Routes, an online adventure following comedian Katherine Ryan as she tries to find out whether her genes or her environment have given her cancer and lupus by the age of 23.

Routes is not a passive viewing experience; it is a story that participants can reach out and touch, where all telephone numbers work, where the fictional bio-tech company websites are indistinguishable from their real counterparts and where characters may turn up on your doorstep asking for help. The participant is not just a fan of the game and the accompanying narrative; instead they are a tangible part of its universe with their actions shaping the events that unfold in the story.

Routes differs from most ARGs produced to date in that the narrative is underpinned by credible, cutting edge science; so much so that the format has gained recognition and investment in the form of sponsorship from The Wellcome Trust. 

Embedded in the game, award-winning comedian Katherine Ryan explores her own genetic make-up, and tests her DNA to find out whether it is her genes or her environment that define who she is. Can genes make you fat? Do they hide critical information about disease? Can Katherine blame her genetic make-up for the fact that she gets drunk on two beers?

As players delve deeper they are forced to explore these questions by solving puzzles, playing mini games, trading tips and collaborating on challenges, and as the broader game unravels the players will uncover a compelling mystery that lies at the heart of Routes itself. Who owns your genes? What are the pros and cons of exploring your genetic make-up? Do your genes determine who you are, or does our environment play a greater role?

Routes has just been launched, so you’re still on time to catch up on all the coding

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