PAX Prime 2011: Citizen Skywatch seeks recruits with fantastic immersion

Showing off a game usually follows an established procedure: Surround the curious with enthusiastic PR folk, jam in enough TVs blaring the latest trailer at every 30 seconds with the volume turned up to 11, maybe throw in a playable demo build, and you're golden.

Citizen Skywatch kicked routine out the door and introduced itself with a surprisingly strong dosage of theater. The walls of its booth were covered in officious government papers garnished with red tape and the bureaucratic treadmarks of censor stamping. Propaganda posters with slogans such as “America Under Attack: The Secret Menace” kept vigil over shelves crammed with old recording equipment and manila folders stuffed with declassified documents.


Citizen Skywatch

The whole presentation evoked images of McCarthyist espionage during the Red Scare of the 1940s and '50s. In fact, in-character G-Men prowled the line with stern stares and even sterner fashion senses, occasionally scribbling a note on a clipboard after bluntly asking if any of us were a genuine, card-carrying Commie.

At the front of the line, people got ushered into a makeshift medical office, complete with a skeleton model and uncomfortably harsh fluorescent lighting. A doctor and nurse combo provided a disarmingly chilling “examination” of their patients, even waving a Geiger counter around at some point (because convention attendees have such radioactive personalities…right?). The true mystery appeared when they displayed a box filled with pebble-like objects and explained that said objects were found in the skulls of some recently recovered corpses.

Citizen Skywatch

Unfortunately, it still doesn't explain what Citizen Skywatch actually is. Rumors point to a possible XCOM alternate reality game, or even something involving BioShock Infinite. In the end, it doesn't really matter, as this was one of the coolest booth experience I've had. I'm eagerly waiting for Disneyland to snap this up and replace that lame Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

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