How much better would Big Brother be if, during the middle of a conversation about who backstabbed who, or why Person A and Person B should form an alliance, someone let loose an angry goat in the house, or a robot suddenly ripped around the corner and began to flood the room with smoke? The answer you are looking for, is “significantly,” and that is what the Prank House hopes to offer when it debuts on October 4.
If you have ever watched any reality TV, odds are that you have wished that you could shoot the participants with a paintball gun, or release a wild animal into their house at least once. Don’t lie, you know you have. The Prank House is a new concept designed to allow you as the viewer, to be able to interact with — and influence- – the outcome of the scheduled e-competitions, making it the world’s first reality video game.
The concept of the Prank House is simple: You put a group of contestants together in a house, split them into teams, and the top person on both the winning and losing teams with the most points at the end of the week advances to the final round. The events will be held from Monday through Saturday, a winner will then be announced, and a new group of contestants will begin at the start of each week. But as you might expect, with a name like “Prank House,” things are not quite that simple.
Once you download the app from the official website, prankhouse.com, you sign up and choose a team that you wish to support. Once you are registered, it becomes your job to help your team through competition in scheduled events. For example: one morning might see two dunk tanks, each with a member of the opposing teams. Users at home will then try to shoot the target, and the team that has the most hits will dunk the opposing team member and gain points for their team. Basically, it is all a matter of teamwork, and the people in the house — at least in the case of the dunk tanks — have little to no control over the outcome.
Other events will require an even greater sense of teamwork, as some games will need a cumulative effort to affect the outcome. One example is the foosball game, where contestants will be playing on a special table with specific paddles. Users online will attempt to rally together; once a consensus has been reached and a majority of users on the same team agree on a specific paddle, the opposing team member will receive a slight electrical shock when they touch that paddle. Obviously, it won’t be enough to hurt them, just enough to distract them and allow the other team to take the advantage. Then there are the other things in the house, like the paintball guns and the smoke-filled robots. While the other games are designed to gain points, these are there, basically, to mess with the contestants.
“It was right around the recession, and we were in advertising. Everyone was so scared and mad that we said, ‘let’s create a site where people can laugh’ and get a little recession revenge,” White said.
From that idea, the website “shootthebanker.com” was born in 2009. The concept is just what you might expect: Visitors to the website would be greeted by a “banker” (an actor paid to play a banker) in a suit that would hurl insults at the visitors, telling them that they were poor. In a recession-drenched world, people flocked at the chance to take out a little faux payback, and users were given the opportunity to take out their aggressions via an interactive paintball gun that marked the banker with sweet, sweet pellets of justice.
Once the site gained a bit of recognition, it began to receive 50,000 unique views per day. In less than a month, the site had been visited by over a million unique visitors, but the success could not overrule the costs, and soon shootthebanker.com closed its digital doors. Its legacy survived, though, and the success of the interactive website was enough to help White and Chadha obtain funding for their next idea, an interactive reality video game.
“People liked [shootthebanker.com] so much, we moved ahead with Prank House,” White said. “Our goal was to make the virtual world of the Internet more real.”
“We think the Internet is really changing from a tool to have a second life, into a tool just to live in a cooler way.”
The Prank House will take the shootthebanker.com concept and ratchet it up several notches. The house will be filled with 20 paintball guns, 15 shockers, 10 RC cars, 3 robots and a goat — a very angry goat according to the website. To gain control of the devices, you will purchase tokens. The money from the tokens will go to keeping the house and the servers running, and a portion of the proceeds from token sales will be donated to a charity of the winner’s choice.
As for the contestants, White and Chadha will be bringing in a group of 12 “internet celebrities” to participate each week. The first week’s lineup is set, but it will officially be announced on October 1.
The app itself is currently available for download for PC, Mac and Linux. A Facebook add-on will be available in time for the season 1 debut on October 4, and plans are in motion to bring the app to mobile devices for later seasons.
Let the games begin.