What is behind the incredible passion that drive gamers? It could be the thrill of the fight, the love of a great puzzle, or the riveting depth of story and lore. Whatever it is that drives gamers, we can all agree, it’s the sense of control and being the lord of another plane of reality that is the reward. Nothing reflects this more, than Peter Molyneux’s little experiment, the Curiosity Cube. Peter Molyneux, the creator of some of the greatest “god” games ever launched for PC (the Black & White series for one) and the Fable franchise presented the world a challenge.
Curiosity – What’s Inside the Cube? was started in November of 2012, having been design by Molyneux and his studio, 22cans, to be a test for gamers the world wide. It was a simple enough challenge, you started in a white room and would chip away the surface of the cube, comprised of billions of cubelets, all to find out what was in the center of the cube. Four million users played the game, to discover the secret of the cube. Molyneux announced that the prize inside would be “life altering” and “amazing”, a claim that many feared would not live up to the hype, but that didn’t stop people from playing for the chance to find out what it was that made this simple geometric shape special.
As of May 26, 2013, the cube has been broken into, by Bryan Henderson, of Edinburgh, Scotland. In a moment that could be likened to the end of Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One”, Bryan Henderson, 18, chipped away at the last cube and was treated to a special video message from Mr. Molyneux himself. In the same stark white room that housed the cube, a digital Peter pronounced Bryan the winner of the game, and told him the secret of the cube. It was indeed something special, and some far grander than money or fame; it was godhood. Bryan Henderson is to be the new digital god of 22cans next game Godus, controlling the rules that players will play by, a gaining a small portion of the revenue that is generated from game sales. Truly Molyneux had not lied that the reward was life changing. As for the Boy-who-will-be-God, it appears he doesn’t quite yet realize what has happened. He admitted on a phone interview with Wired that he had only downloaded the game that morning and beat it an hour later. Fate was on his side, and he’ll now have a new place in the pantheon of gaming history, as the first person to be a God of a digital world that other gamers will play in.
This experiment, of social gaming and determination was more than a viral marketing campaign, it’s bringing into reality something that we only read in fiction. Novels like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Ready Player One” make fantastic accounts of people whose lives change from a contest or game and find themselves thrown into a fantastic situation. Molyneux, whether he intended this or not, injected fantasy into our world, and filled it with wonder and possibility. It’s more than just PR, marketing, or sales, they changed a life, and made games mean so much more in the process. We can only hope that this isn’t the last time that we see something this great and magical happen, and we congratulate Bryan Henderson on his success, and are curious what kind of god he’ll turn out to be. It seems the expirement has just begun.