“The morals are with game player”, says Brock Enright. “We can set up anything. And, as we discovered, he has.
Enright has arranged, by his own count, close to 1000 kidnappings since 1995. The first cost just $500; $60,000 is a figure mentioned for a recent abduction.
It started with a game called Dog, he explained. It was about trying to remain in a state where you always felt uncomfortable. It was about taking somebody out of their everyday life.
In 1995 a $500 kidnapping meant taking the abductee - Enright describes them as game players - and putting him on the railway tracks for a few hours. These days things are a lot more elaborate and Enright has a team of people that help him to conceive and deliver the exact abduction experience that each game player’s dreams.
Being a kidnapper requires a lot of planning. A LOT of planning. It starts with an introductory meeting which requires spotters to screen the prospective player before Brock will meet them. He describes an elaborate routine that involves verbal and non-verbal signals, codes - ‘rabbits’, ‘eagle-eyed’, ‘cleaners’, ‘players’ and ‘birds’. The potential abductee is known as the Fox.
Once the initial meeting has taken place, more interviews follow - sometimes it is a month-long process. Once Enright is satisfied the kidnap experience - including the boundaries, waivers and indemnities - is created and a contract is drawn up and signed by the game player and Brock’s Videogame Adventure Services. “Finding an insurer that would work with us was a challenge” explains Enright. From the descriptions and images of the games he and his tram creates it’s not a surprise to anybody in the audience.
“The contract for breaking a bone is beautiful” says Enright with a smile. “How far do you break it?”.
But, while this might sound a strange juxtaposition - a contract that sets out every possible outcome and liability for an abduction - this attention to detail appears to be a hallmark of the way in which Enright does business. It has to be.
The contract states that the kidnap could take place at any time within a year. Some projects take longer - depending on the complexity of the game. Enright says that he has been working on some for up to five years.
Over the last 20 years the abductions have changed. They are all videoed now, but there is also an incredible amount of technology in every abduction - both in creating the experience and managing the operations around it. Each experience is a symphony of technologies combining to ensure that the experience the player expects is what is delivered - in as much as part of the experience is the unknown.
“You have to be able to experience it for yourself.”, explains Brock Enright. “Everybody [on the team] has been through it.”
And, sometimes, things don’t go quite as planned. Like a meeting with a potential game player at a posh restaurant. Having just finished one abduction he met women and her partner to talk about what she wanted. The woman had, Enright recalls, read about it in an inflight magazine and was keen to have her own abduction experience. Enright explains that most of the audience would probably know the couple. He doesn’t give a name and never talks about the details of any abduction - it’s in the contract - but he smiles as he recalls the meeting. We agreed it would happen and the woman’s partner then continued the meeting alone. From the description it appears part of the appeal was the unknown. Having discussed the options Enright says that he heard nothing more from either party and he’s not sure what happened to the intended game-player, but he thinks her male partner may have organized the abduction himself.
Lyndon Johnson is founder of THINK DIFFERENT [LY], a company that helps entrepreneurs build the relationships they need to grow their businesses. He wants to change the public relations industry to make it affordable, effective and accountable for early-stage businesses.
Having started his career as a broadcast journalist, he has worked with companies of all sizes to help them deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time, via the right delivery channel for more than 15 years.