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Myles Away – Chronic Insanity

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

Writers: Tennexa Freeman and Joe Strickland

Directors: Schereeya Reed and Joe Strickland

The path of the big computer technology companies from committed students beavering away in their garage to international corporate megastructures provides an interesting tension, one that has shaped their biography in the ensuing decades. Inspired by this distorting journey, Chronic Insanity have created an immersive choose-your-own adventure game which asks you to engage in some industrial intelligence.

Myles, born Mila in 1995, was the former head and founder of Open Eye Communications, which invented a piece of software called AWAY. But having been released from his contract, Myles wants to disrupt the company’s commercial plans for his work, due to be launched imminently. But he can no longer access the files and instead plans to groom a new employee to help him. Myles needs you.

Combining video ‘evidence’ powered by YouTube, showing arguments between Myles and colleague Will Harper, interactions with a female-voiced computer system (who also inducts you into the company) and direct appeals from Myles as he builds his evidence pack, Myles Away lets the audience make decisions about what happens next.

Within the game, you can search through the company’s files some of which flesh-out and expand your experience, including the secret folders of the Building Manager Daryl that you can riddle through looking for something juicy to help Myles to stop the launch of his beloved product. At various points there are decisions to be made, clicking on the screen you choose whether or not to help him; say no and you take one path with more questions, say yes and you go can even further.

There are various influences at work here, there is a touch of Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch as the audience decides what happens next; it is part alien / space movie with sinister computers like Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey; and part inspired by tech entrepreneur films that use the biography and trajectory of genius founders either ousted from their own companies as in Danny Boyle’s brilliant movie Steve Jobs or altered by them as with David Fincher’s The Social Network.

The purpose is to understand your views on accessibility, privilege and fairness, so whether you choose to help Myles reclaim his invention and release it as open source software or protect yourself and the corporation says much about your belief in the commodification and commercialisation of societal tools. Spoiler alert, in this game, the journey is far less interesting and shorter if you pick the latter path.

The only downside is the ending, depending on your choices it will either be an abrupt boot from the game or a slightly unclear final challenge, when having done as asked there is nowhere else to go within the portal itself. The software doesn’t work on Google Chrome so another browser will be required and in the final stages of the game you may also need to use download functions and send from your personal email account which may not be GDPR compliant if that data is then reused to market to you later.

Running at around 40 minutes depending on the choices you make, this a fairly-well planned experience of corporate espionage and disruption. Performed by TL Thompson, Markese Mclamb, and Joe Strickland, Myles Away creates a convincing theatre-meets-escape room experience, standing out as one of the more unusual and inventive experiences of the last few months.

Available here until 2 August 2020

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Inventive and unusual

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