Big Brother Mobile Game Brings New "Reality Gaming" Genre To The Table

Based on the reality TV series, Big Brother: The Game is arriving on iOS, Android, and browsers on October 15. The trailer for the game makes it look fairly bland, but perhaps there’s more to it than meets the eye?

In this Sims-like simulator, you play as virtual housemates in a multiplayer setting. The developer coins the game as “reality gaming,” in which contestants can earn a “life-changing prize fund” that anyone, anywhere can win. Players have to make decisions on who to vote out of the house, like the TV show, and participate in mini-games ripped straight from the series. The developer wrote in its press release that Big Brother: The Game is “social, psychological, and interpersonal.”

There are two modes within the game: housemate and spectator. The spectator mode is free to download and has optional in-game purchases, and to be a Housemate, you have to spend money to enter the house. Three entries to the Big Brother house costs $4.99, but you shouldn’t buy this unless you’re very invested. The pay-to-play model is utilized because it encourages players to experience the game for days rather than minutes.

Even though paying to enter sounds off-putting, there is solid reasoning to back it up. “[Free entry] would be a super-not-fun experience for the real fans and players, who would have to go through the motions for days nominating and evicting these ghost contestants,” the developer said on its blog. “It would also be no fun to watch, so would destroy the spectator experience.” The payment model is a way for players to get invested in the game rather than meandering for a brief moment.

Perhaps for fans, the prospect of entering the Big Brother house and being a part of the politics of the group is appealing. The physical drama isn’t there, and the chores around the house seem dreadfully boring to watch, but perhaps if participants don’t get along with each other – it could turn into something interesting. Although lackluster gameplay may result in player and viewer drop-off, the implementation of viewer voting might be intriguing enough to keep everyone invested. The trailer is cheesy and doesn’t show off much, but maybe there is potential within the “reality gaming” formula.

The developer said on its blog that during a 6-week trial season with a few thousand people, “The players were all engaged, active in the Houses, making friends, forming alliances, plotting schemes, making moves, [and] playing strategies.” If organic player behavior is this successful at launch, it could prove to be a fascinating spectacle.

We do have concepts like Twitch Plays Pokemon that revolutionized the way we look at the livestreaming format. TV shows have created plenty of intriguing social experiments in the past, so perhaps this mobile game could be the next step.

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