Analysis by: Emily Greenquist

Balloon Boy: The Game

After my recent return from the 2011 Game Developers Conference, I could have easily reviewed another excellent IGF finalist or some other new game before it becomes “old news,” but this notion reminded me of a game with a decidedly tiny window of relevancy that has long since passed.    

Many of you may remember the “Balloon Boy” sensation of October 15, 2009.  For 2+ hours, every US news station gave us detailed footage of an out of control helium balloon with a speculated 6 year old boy trapped inside.  We rolled our eyes when we found out it was a hoax, and then instantly looked away.

A handful of you may be aware of a game that quickly immerged from that story: “Balloon Boy: The Game.”  It commented on / contributed to the sensation of a non-story, and it is now crumpled within that thrown away page of history.   

The game play is irrelevant.  “Balloon Boy: The Game’s” existence is the significant element for two reasons:

1)     IMMEDIACY – It shows that games can participant in the immediacy of information.  Game developers have the power to contribute to the collective discussion of news events in the moment that they occur, before they become “old news.”

2)     PARTICIPATION - The voice of game makers can seep into every crevice of the information / cultural pool.   “Balloon Boy: The Game” permeated the tabloid-worthy pores of sensationalism, which is just as valid as a game exposing the horrors of war.  All contributions add to the collective voice of the game industry within the fluid conversation that is our culture.     

Game developers - let’s comment on the full spectrum of contemporary events: from the basest frivolity to the profound, and let’s get our voices heard in the moment it matters most - now.  

Play Balloon Boy: The Game

Special Thanks

To: Simeon Peebler  for letting us watch these moments unfold in the moment they unfolded.  

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