Arcade

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here, and resolve to fight.

The first component of our model unit is the landing page: an architecture in the Cloud where consumers meet our brand, create a Humaginarium identity and shop our stuff. A few months ago I cluelessly dubbed this the “platform.” A misnomer! Platform means many things but none describes our landing page. The correct word is arcade.

I pause now because I don’t want to be confused with arcade video games, a classic genre that’s big in sports, gambling and amusement. We don’t make arcade games. On the other hand gamers don’t own the notional concept of arcade; they borrowed it from architecture and it’s much bigger than them.

A traditional arcade is an agora under a roof. A place to shop, discover new things, meet people, catch up on the news, have fun. It’s a precursor of the modern shopping mall. Arcades are also engines of culture; places where communities gather and make meaning together. That’s also a reasonable description of Humaginarium: a place where folks make meaning.

Our arcade is a digital environment loaded with things to view and do. When consumers first land there, they gaze upon the front gates of a labyrinth. A fantastic labyrinth that could have been designed by Jorge Luis Borges if he played video games. They stare in amazement and wonder, Why enter this perilous realm? Why not turn right around and find something normal to play? We don’t tell them why; we let them figure it out themselves by messing with curious knobs and handles. Our arcade is a cabinet of curiosities from a world where science and fantasy have fused and formed a strange new dimension.

In the center of the arcade there is a room for viewing video shorts. How short? Depends on the topic, but anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds. The videos are not eye candy, though they’re incredibly beautiful; some funny, others scary, still other puzzling and a little irritating. The videos are interrelated clue dispensers. Consumers who want to try the labyrinth can’t just enter it; can’t buy a ticket even if they want to pay; can’t use a key even if they have one; can’t make an offer or a trade or sign a waiver. Instead they must find clues in the arcade to crack the code and prove their mettle. They must earn the privilege of entering Humaginarium or forever be stuck outside, peering through display windows at magical intimate things that they can’t touch until they get past the gates.

Why would restless consumers “waste time” collecting and configuring clues like this? Some won’t of course, but many will because it doesn’t feel like wasting time. It feels exhilarating! One, because it’s fun; a lot of fun. Two, because it’s intriguing; like a teleport to somewhere desirable and momentous – and free for those who can turn the lock. Three, because it’s useful; promising a weird kind of entertainment that makes people smarter, more capable, more centered, more in control of their most painful and costly challenges. It bestows a gift of unshackled imagination and the freedom to explore the human body as if they were its creator.

Our arcade is a string of amusements that inspire and motivate. The inspiration is a mental model of perfect wellness. The model presents the formation of the body at birth, its disintegration at death, and its healthy progression through life known as homeostasis: an ideal state that’s impossible for any person to ignore and nearly impossible to attain. Worthy not just of study but of quest! The arcade motivates folks to break into a hall of horrors: a labyrinth where chronic illness is waiting to outsmart, outfox, outmaneuver, outlast any would-be hero who dares to enter. Abandon all hope, ye who enter there, and resolve to fight.

Humaginarium is made for heroes who are not endowed with superpowers. Just regular folks who have, or risk getting, a miserable chronic illness that lasts a lifetime in the real world. In the real world these folks may hope and endure and suffer. In Humaginarium they can choose to fight and control or overcome. Truly that’s a fantasy, but for many of the people landing in our arcade, it’s one of the greatest unreal stories ever told and it’s all about real life.

Coming next: a use case that describes what consumers may experience in our arcade.