Stalk Exchange

Stalk Exchange

Featured at Come Out and Play in 2009

Remember this scene from "The Bourne Ultimatum" where Jason Bourne directs Simon Ross through Waterloo Station with cellphone instructions? Imagine that, without the fighting or shooting, in NYC's largest transportation hub at rush hour.


Trail the competition, evade detection, and above all else, listen to your handler. A blend of theater and gameplay, Stalk Exchange is a site-specific, immersive live action game that takes place in Grand Central Station. Players interact with anonymous teammates, planted actors, and an unsuspecting public to identify Agency contacts, trade hidden messages, and acquire The Package.




Players sign up in advance with their email address and mobile phone number. In the days leading up to the game day, they are given instructions and teaser messages via email. At the appointed hour (usually around rush hour on a weekday), they converge on Grand Central Terminal and send a text message to the provided number that says they've arrived. At this point, a game runner finds them and subtly hands the player a manilla envelope with maps and more instructions. Attached to the envelope is a phone number and instructions to call it or wait for a call -- this is the number of their teammate. Players connect by phone and remain in phone contact for the rest of the game. Once all players have arrived and been contacted with instructions, they receive a text message that the game is now starting.

A view of the map given to each player as part of the overall game instructions.

One member of each team is mostly stationary, giving instructions -- the Handler. The other -- the Agent -- is constantly moving through the concourse, following directions received over the phone from the Handler.

The overall goal is to acquire The Package. In good spy-genre style, players know nothing about the package -- what the package is, contains, or even looks like. They learn more over the course of the game, through a variety of missions that involve identifying contacts, trading hidden messages, and intercepting deliveries.

Players and actors receive text messages from the game runners with new missions and updates. Players have to remain as inconspicuous as possible at all times -- there are other players and actors who are trying to find them. The game ends when the Package has been acquired by one team and brought to the hand-off point -- the Campbell Apartment, where all players converge at the end of gameplay for drinks and relaxation.

The action is facilitated by a custom-built dashboard to batch-send text messages and handle multiple text messages at once. The game structure, mechanics, and content is all original work by Sonaar Luthra and myself.