The Mysterious Package Company sends story experiences through the mail. Sign up, and you or your chosen recipient gets a sequence of unexplained mailings. Inside: objects that tell a story, from documents and newspaper clippings through medium-sized statuary and significant physical props. There’s a little of a sense of the magic trick about all this, too — they even describe the stages of their presentation in terms of “The Pledge”, “The Turn”, and “The Prestige”.
Having occasionally made much less ambitious, much less polished physical props to go with my games, I’m both jealous and a bit in awe of the talent going into their work. (I’ve seen a few props that they sent to a friend, but I’ve not signed up or tried a full experience myself.)
The Mysterious Package Company are now kickstarting a larger-than-usual experience called The Century Beast, a Lovecraft-meets-Vikings story about which the pitch is alluring but vague. The Kickstarter has been funded, and is meeting further stretch goals by the day. For anyone who likes narrative of objects pieces, single-player ARG-like experiences, or feelies — especially feelies — this is likely to awaken covetous impulses.
The Company is mysterious even in its correspondence, so I don’t actually know who runs the business, but someone called the Curator was kind enough to answer my questions about storytelling in their particular format.
Tell me about the kinds of storytelling that are possible with objects that would be harder to do any other way. What are the strengths of your particular medium?
Storytelling is universal, whether it be oral, written, or performance. However, with some notable exceptions, becoming truly immersed in a story is difficult. You may relate to the characters, or be taken by the narrative, but you are observing what is happening to others, not participating yourself. The advent of video games has provided new and wonderful ways to tell stories, whilst placing the player in the role of the protaganist, and that is a large step toward creating immersion, but there is a significant missing element: physicality.