The MPC, operated by a purposefully unknown group since 2012, delivers well thought out, authenticated stories to or on behalf of its members. Membership to the MPC is needed but it is 100% free and anyone can apply though, membership is not guaranteed; It is up to the discretion of the MPC. If you become accepted, the MPC sends you an anonymous email detailing the next steps you need to take in order to receive or send out a story package. Per Darwin Law on the blog ,The Nerdery Public, there are three levels of packages that range in prices:
•The Bespoke Experience. It started at $799.00 and involved conversations with The Curator to ensure that your experience was completely unique. [A] line…in the description was, “As much or as little control as you wish…”
•The next level was three different stories involving various mailings over several months. All of the stories were about $179.00.
•The last level was their quarterly mailer, “Curios & Conundrums”. They had the catch up for the previous installments plus a sign up for the next chapter. Both together, before shipping and handling, $50.00.
On June 8th, 2015, liaison Jason Kapalka, “co-founder of PopCap Games (Bejeweled, Peggle, Plants vs Zombies), [who] got involved with the MPC several years ago, eventually becoming an investor and advisor” (J. Kapalka), started a Canadian Kickstarter campaign to raise 20 thousand Canadian dollars (about $15,369.25 US dollars) for the multi-chapter project, The Beast, “described as Cthulhu meets Viking lore” (Chelsea Stark).
The company reached their goal within 9 hours. On the last day of the campaign (July 8th) 1,291 backers pledged $422,390 (about $339,960.06 US dollars), “making this the second most successful Canadian Art Kickstarter, and the fourteenth most successful in Canada overall” (The Curator).
Per the MPC website, mysteriouspackage.com, the following steps are followed by the company:
Step 1: The Pledge
Our stories begin with The Pledge, often an unexpected letter, and often regarding a relative or other previously unknown person. This is the start of the adventure, a puzzling moment of intrigue that draws the recipient into the scheme.
We pay careful attention to all aspects of what we send: the date of the stamps, the style of the postmark, the age of the paper… how everything feels in the hand is as important as what is written on the page.
Step 2: The Turn
The narrative continues over weeks or months, supplying additional information to bring the story into focus. This is The Turn: photographs, old newspaper clippings, diary pages, patient records, and in some cases, coded messages. These all work to compel the recipient to research what is happening to them, and hook them into the storyline.
We take a great deal of care to base the locations, people, and events of our stories in reality as much as possible, so when you search for the sanatorium, or experiments done at a particular Gulag, or the bankruptcy of a particular publisher online, a wealth of additional information appears, filling in blanks and making everything feel more authentic.
Step 3: The Prestige
The climax of our experiences arrive in one of our handmade wooden crates. They are painted and aged to fit in with the narrative, and then nailed shut.
Step 4: The Rouge
All adventures must eventually come to an end, and our experiences are no different. We cap the story with a suitably mysterious black envelope, containing an elegantly sealed message on parchment.
The note reveals who was behind this wonderful gift, as well as offering immediate membership to the recipient. It furnishes a moment for reflection on the experience as a whole, and provides some necessary closure.
The Mysterious Package company brings to mind an excerpt from Reality Is Broken by Jane McGonigal:
Gamers want to know: Where, in the real world, is that gamer sense of being
fully alive, focused, and engaged in every moment? Where is the gamer feeling
of power, heroic purpose, and community? Where are the bursts of exhilarating
and creative game accomplishment? Where is the heart-expanding thrill
of success and team victory? While gamers may experience these pleasures
occasionally in their real lives, they experience them almost constantly when
they’re playing their favorite games.
The real world just doesn’t offer up as easily the carefully designed pleasures,
the thrilling challenges, and the powerful social bonding afforded by
The MPC gives you a virtual reality that fits in your real-world mailbox. The mystery behind the pieces of mail and items sent by the MPC stimulates the brain to try to figure out what the story means. That usually means the receiver of the package will most likely start researching the truth behind the items. Seeing the connections between the research and the the items in your hands stimulates the brain to want more pieces of the mystery puzzle which increases the probability of them diving into the MPC preconceived world.
In Raph Koster’s Theory of Fun, he explained how “the human brain is mostly a voracious consumer of patterns…Games are just exceptionally tasty patterns to eat up” (pg. 14). The pieces sent by the MPC are part of a larger puzzle. Finding the answer to the puzzle is the game being fed to your brain. The MPC’s precise detailing creates a pattern of authenticity that blurs the magic circle.
Just like the assassination game Killer, as described in Pervasive Games, the MPC “breaks the boundaries of games by using environments, people, and information from the everyday world. [It] takes the fun of the game and brings it to the everyday like… it takes the tangibility and realness of everyday life into the game” (Montola, Stenros, and Waern pg. 5) The MPC is also a collaborative game rather than a competition (pg. 38). The wide arrange of items sent to you will push you to interact with others who may know more about a certain aspect of the game piece mailed to you. For example, a letter in a different language will have you ask people you know or online communities for translations.
The overall theme of the game is historical mystery based on non-fiction, fiction. The purpose of the mystery to is to give mystique and thrill into the receivers life.
Social Constructs: the items created for the mystery are created with attention to detail. If it’s a story from 100 years ago, the paper used, the penmanship, the verbiage, the items delivered, will be exact to that era of time.
1. Law, Darwin. December 14th, 2014. <http://thenerderypublic.com/shameless-plug-sunday-mysterious-package-company/>
2. Kapalka, Jason. June 8th, 2015. <https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jkapalka/the-mysterious-package-company-presents-the-centur>
3. Stark, Chelsea. July 2nd, 2015. <http://mashable.com/2015/07/02/mysterious-package-company/#bFdJjyaGwaqi>
4. Curator, The. July 8th, 2015. <https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jkapalka/the-mysterious-package-company-presents-the-centur/posts/1287695>
6. McGonigal, Jane. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. The Penguin Press. New York. 2011.
7. Koster, Raph. Theory of Fun for Game Design. Paraglyph Press, Inc. Scottsdale, Arizona. 2005.
8. Montola, Markus. Stenros, Jaakko. Waern, Annika. Pervasive Games: Theory and Design. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers. Burlington, Massachusetts. 2009.