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Karen is a life coach and she is friendly. Too friendly. This groundbreaking app by Blast Theory mixes gaming and storytelling.
Karen is a life coach and she is friendly. Too friendly. This groundbreaking app by Blast Theory mixes gaming and storytelling.
539 backers pledged £17,559 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Karen - an app that psychologically profiles you as you play project video thumbnail
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£17,559

539

Follow us:

@blasttheory          #Karenapp        www.facebook.com/blasttheory

Thank you to everyone who has backed our campaign, and thank you for all the tweets, blog mentions, online articles and Facebook shares. Your support means we can create Blast Theory’s most adventurous work yet.

We are already hard at work to create the app and we’ll keep all our backers updated on how Karen develops over the coming months. You can also find the latest news about the project on the Blast Theory website.

If you missed our Kickstarter but would like to support the Karen project, you can still make a pledge via the Blast Theory website. We will use all funds to further improve and refine the Karen app and you will receive all the rewards included in 'Karen's Insight'.

Thank you once again to all our supporters. We cannot wait to introduce you to Karen.

Thanks to our Kickstarter backers, we have reached our £15k goal and are able to develop the Karen app for iOS! Karen will be a unique artistic app experience with a rich video content, great functionality and a smart user interface.

If we raise £20k, we can do the same for Android.

We are now in the last couple of days of this campaign so it's now or never! If you're an Android user and you'd like to take part in Blast Theory's most adventurous work yet, please add your pledge now.

Karen is an app that mixes gaming and storytelling. 

Karen is a life coach and she’s happy to help you work through a few things in your life. When you begin, she asks you some questions about your outlook on the world to get an understanding of you. In fact, her questions are drawn from a well established psychological profiling questionnaire called Mood Repair. She – and the software – are profiling you and she gives you advice based on your answers.

As she gets to know you, she gets more and more curious. She seems to know things about you that she shouldn’t.

Where exactly is this going to end?

This is a new work by Blast Theory for 2015, developed in partnership with National Theatre Wales - and you!

We’re always looking at where technology is going, and what that might mean for culture and storytelling. At the moment we are really fascinated with big data, and particularly how governments and large companies such as Facebook are collecting data on us secretly and using it without our consent.

We feel it’s our job as artists to pose questions about these trends. Karen pushes the boundaries of artistic apps and uses data in a way that is playful, open and fun.

Karen is a system that gets to know you. She/it uses data about your behaviour - whether freely given or obtained by monitoring – to give you an experience that is personalised, adaptive and intriguing.

Developed in consultation with Professor Nina Reynolds and Dr Kelly Page, the work also embeds a wide range of psychological scales into the story. 

Karen in development: sketches from Matt, Ju and Nick's whiteboard
Karen in development: sketches from Matt, Ju and Nick's whiteboard

We’ve done the research and built a prototype, but a lot of our ideas are still on paper. Without your help, we will not be able to fund the development of this app.

Although we receive funding from Arts Council England and other bodies, we cannot cover the costs associated with developing the app, the software to support it and the high-quality video content we need.

We also need your help in shaping the app! Karen is a project unlike any that Blast Theory have done before – and we need our Kickstarter community to help us develop and test it. Be part of the journey with us.

Your money will be used to fund:

Development: we need to fund software development time to create a full version of the app.

Filming: interactive videos are at the heart of the app and how you engage with Karen. Your support will provide resources for the intensive video shoots that will allow us to take you into Karen's world.

Karen herself! For the prototype footage our wonderful Artists’ Assistant, Sarah, plays the role of Karen - but in the finished version, we want to recruit an actor to play the part. That way, Sarah can go back to her day job and we can all stop calling her Karen by mistake.

Artists' Assistant Sarah Julia Clark hard at work in the Blast Theory editing suite
Artists' Assistant Sarah Julia Clark hard at work in the Blast Theory editing suite

With your support, we know we can deliver a mobile app for iOS that has a rich video content, great functionality and a smart user interface. 

The app has full-screen HD video. You interact with Karen via touch and text. The experience changes depending on the information you give: so for instance, if you tell Karen that you're having a bad day, she'll respond differently than if you say you're feeling on top of the world. 

You can choose to ignore Karen or, if she catches you at a bad time, you can tell her to 'call' back later. But the more you interact with Karen, and the more information you share with her, the more engaging, intriguing and disconcerting your experience with her will be.

The work culminates in a live event for an invited group of the most committed participants - but you can enjoy Karen as a complete experience without going to the live event, whether you live in Singapore, San Francisco or Swansea. 

If you help us bring Karen to life, you will be our special friend forever. But if gratitude alone doesn't quite do it for you, we have a range of exciting rewards for you. 

Our Kickstarter backers will be the first ones to be invited to download the Karen app when it is ready. As a backer, you will also receive a report to show exactly how we have used data to create the Karen experience. This will give you a unique insight into the workings of the app. 

We will also honour all our Kickstarter backers with a credit in the app, and you will get an insight into how the project is developed through a backers-only behind the scenes blog, where all the main members of the creative team will share their views on the project as it develops from prototype to global launch.

Karen's special tape, badge and Life Tips guide! This bundle is all yours if you pledge £30 or more. Please note that the actual products may vary slightly.
Karen's special tape, badge and Life Tips guide! This bundle is all yours if you pledge £30 or more. Please note that the actual products may vary slightly.

KAREN'S LIFE TIPS: In a Kickstarter exclusive, the Blast Theory artists have designed a beautiful pocket guide of Karen's best life coaching tips. Combining her knowledge of psychology with a dedication to taking every sneaky shortcut she can find, her tips are funny and useful. You will wonder how you ever coped without Karen's advice!

BEAUTIFUL BADGE: We'd like you to wear Karen's name with pride, so we have created a beautiful badge especially for our Kickstarter backers.

TAPE THAT: Let Karen stick that for you! Whether you're wrapping a special present or decorating your life, use this exclusive roll of tape from Karen.

GETTING PERSONAL: Let Karen send you a personality test! Answer some of Karen's questions and she will send you a personalised report. This reward also includes all the rewards from Tape That, including Karen's Life Tips.

BEAUTIFUL PRINTS OF BLAST THEORY ART POSTERS: An art poster is a beautiful thing, and you can choose one of the two options below to receive at home as an A2 giclée print on fine art paper, signed by all three Blast Theory artists.

A Machine to See With, Sundance Festival 2011
A Machine to See With, Sundance Festival 2011
I'd Hide You, Sheffield Doc/Fest 2013
I'd Hide You, Sheffield Doc/Fest 2013

MEET KAREN: THE LIVE EVENT: What's that? A chance to meet Karen for real? Yes, you read that right. A select few of our Kickstarter backers will receive an exclusive VIP invitation to a one-off live event where you can meet Karen, take a selfie with her, maybe even share a bag of of crisps with her (salt and vinegar of course). You get to meet all three Blast Theory artists too. The event will be delivered with our partners, National Theatre Wales, at a top-secret location in the UK.

ARTWORK: For the more discerning and exclusive among our Kickstarter backers, we offer a limited-edition photograph signed by all three artists and mounted on aluminium (that's aluminum if you live Stateside). Each image has a limited edition of five. Choose from the three beautiful photos below, which were taken by Blast Theory in different corners of the world.

Official Station, San Jose, USA 2006
Official Station, San Jose, USA 2006
A Machine To See With - Hugo, Portslade, UK 2010
A Machine To See With - Hugo, Portslade, UK 2010
Woman on Motorbike, Tokyo, Japan 2005
Woman on Motorbike, Tokyo, Japan 2005

We’re a group of artists based in Brighton in the UK. (That’s right, not one of those rip-off Brightons in Australia, the US, Canada. You know who you are.) We make interactive projects, some of them are games, some are installations or online. They can be technologically cutting edge but we’ve also made work using SMS, phone calls and posters. As you can see in the video, we’ve kidnapped our audiences, sent them to rob a bank or ride a bike through the night.

We’ve been commissioned by Tate Online, the BBC and Sundance Film Festival. We’ve won awards around the world including the Prix Ars Electronica and the Maverick Award at the Games Developers Conference. We’ve shown our work at the Venice Biennale, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and the Walker in Minneapolis.

Risks and challenges

Despite our rigorous testing and prototyping, like all app development projects, we will face some risks and challenges.

We’ve already done a lot of testing and prototyping of the app, and we have planned each stage of development in detail. We will use an agile approach that will help us to respond quickly to any unforeseen problems and make sure we stay on track.

One of our main ambitions for Karen is to deliver an experience that you can participate in no matter where you are, and that means a much bigger audience for us to get to know. Our Kickstarter backers will help us to address this challenge and we will be calling on you to help us understand your user requirements.

Karen will use a range of public and private data to deliver an experience that is personalised. The data you entrust to us will be treated with care and discretion. We will be fully compliant with data protection legislation and adhere to the most robust data security procedures to make sure that your data is safe and will only be used for the purpose of making your experience with Karen unique. We will not share your data with anyone else. We will only use localisation data if you give us permission to do so.

Karen uses psychological profiling to get to know you better and deliver an experience unique to you. We don’t want to use bogus science for such a sensitive area, which is why we have worked with Professor Nina Reynolds and Dr Kelly Page to ensure that our research is scientifically valid.

Blast Theory has over 20 years' experience creating and distributing ground-breaking digital projects around the world. We will respond to all these risks and challenges to ensure we deliver a unique and compelling experience.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £10 or more About $16

    KAREN'S INSIGHT: You will be the FIRST to be invited to download the app and we will add you to the app credits to show our thanks. In addition, we will send you a report to show you exactly how we have used data to create the Karen experience*. And we will also give you access to an exclusive backers-only behind the scenes blog. (*The report will be sent to you by September 2015.)

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    Pledge £15 or more About $24

    OUT YOURSELF: We will send you a beautiful Karen badge, designed by the artists, so you can wear her name with pride. We will also give you an early invitation to download the app, the data report, we will add you to the app credits and we will give you access to the exclusive backers-only behind the scenes blog.

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    Pledge £25 or more About $40

    KAREN'S LIFE TIPS: Karen has gathered some of her top life-coaching tips and will share them with you in a handy pocket guide. PLUS we will give you the data report, add you to the app credits, give you the Karen badge and you will receive access to the exclusive backers-only behind the scenes blog.

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    46 backers
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    Pledge £30 or more About $48

    TAPE THAT: Let Karen stick that for you! Whether you're wrapping a special present or decorating your life, use this exclusive roll of tape from Karen. PLUS you will receive Karen's Life Coaching Tips, the badge, the app, a credit, the data report and access to a backers-only behind the scenes blog.

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    17 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £40 or more About $64

    PACKET O NUTS: Badge? Tape? Pfft. Get everything above except those two things. Instead buy Karen a packet of peanuts (well, you don't actually have to buy any nuts. It's a figure of speech). She'll record you a special video thanking you.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £65 or more About $104

    GETTING PERSONAL: Karen will give you a personality test! Answer her questions and she will send you an exclusive personalised report. PLUS we will add you to the app credits, give you the data report, send you a Karen badge and roll of tape, and give you access to the exclusive backers-only behind the scenes blog.

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    Limited 21 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £100 or more About $160

    TO HAVE AND TO HOLD: Choose your favourite from two specially selected Blast Theory posters and receive an A2 giclée print on fine art paper, signed by all three artists (42 x 59.4cm). PLUS we will give you the data report, add you to the app credits, send you the Karen badge and tape, and give you access to the exclusive backers-only behind the scenes blog.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £130 or more About $208

    THROUGH THE BACKDOOR: This is the option for those of you that want all the insight into how the project is made. You will join our select group of beta testers and we will give you access to the source code and the design documents. You will also be invited to an online discussion with our lead developer. PLUS we will give you every reward from GETTING PERSONAL.

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    Pledge £250 or more About $399

    MEET KAREN: We will give you an exclusive invitation to a one-off live event with Karen, at a secret location in the UK. You will be treated as a VIP (because you are one!) and get to meet the Blast Theory artists after the event. (Travel to and from the event not included.) PLUS we will also give you every reward from TO HAVE AND TO HOLD.

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    Pledge £600 or more About $958

    ARTWORK: You will receive a limited-edition photograph signed by the artists and mounted on aluminium. Each image is one of an edition of 5 with artists' proof. Choose from one of three beautiful images taken by Blast Theory around the world. PLUS we will give you an exclusive VIP invitation to a one-off live event with Karen at a secret location in the UK. (Travel to and from the event not included). AND you get all the rewards from TO HAVE AND TO HOLD.

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,597

    WORK IT: A Blast Theory artist will lead a one-day workshop OR consultancy day on Interactive Storytelling, suitable for diverse participants and practices, for the group or organisation of your choice. (Max. 20 participants; travel expenses to workshop location not included). You also get ALL the rewards from TO HAVE AND TO HOLD.

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    Pledge £1,500 or more About $2,396

    ROYAL CREST: We will give you EVERY reward above and make you a Blast Theory Patron for life, starting with an intimate dinner with the three artists.

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    Reward no longer available 3 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)