Today augmented reality games are all the rage and only getting more popular. We have Pokemon GO, we have virtual reality and we are seeing more immersive gaming experiences arise. This is nothing new though, even more immersive than simply looking at your phone screen was done over a decade ago. Electronic Arts attempted taking things WAY farther than just wandering around town trying to catch digital creatures. No, in Majestic, you LIVED the game, well as much of it as you wanted. Phone calls, e-mails, text messages, video clips, etc were all available if you were willing to go that far.
Augmented reality gaming is all the rage right now thanks to Pokemon GO and companies are scrambling to get in on it. Much like virtual reality, it was done years ago- just it is more gamer friendly today that back then. Take Majestic for instance, this game hit in 2001 mere months prior to the horrific events of 9/11. What was weird about it was the content- government conspiracies involving a mysterious group known as Majestic 12. What was cool about Majestic was that it was based on somewhat factual information- there was a Majestic 12 group, they were investigating UFO’s and the like and came from the ashes of a United States Air Force investigation known as Project Blue Book. Also considering the timing of the release of Majestic it was destined to be at least remembered for being unique and probably loved by some gamers. That is had 9/11 not happened.
Of course when 9/11 happened government conspiracies quickly sprang up. 2001 was the early days of broadband Internet access taking a small foot hold in North American homes and dial up was more prolific than ever. People want to talk and want to be the center of attention so conspiracy theories were abound- it seemed everyone became Columbo or Hunter overnight.
Majestic operated in real time. If a character said I will contact you at 4 pm next Monday by phone then you got a phone call at 4 pm on that following Monday. This was also tailored quite a bit to each player and how they setup their immersion level (and available time to play). Don’t like phone calls? Simply turn them off as a point of contact and you are good to go. Prefer e-mails only? No problem, EA went overboard with letting players decide their level of involvment.
Electronic Arts attempted to keep Majestic running after pausing for a period of time around the 9/11 attacks. Eventually EA dropped Majestic blaming it on too few players (willing to spend $9.95 for EA’s Platinum Service). It is easy to blame a horrific event for the failure of Majestic but EA did not do that, they cited lack of interest from fans which after what happened the prior year, I can easily see people not wanting to have a game contacting them with information on a loved one being held prisoner or another attack looming.
Too bad EA has not tried to relaunch Majestic- in today’s world with cell phones and other always connected devices it could be even more immersive.