Remember the joy of getting mail or the suspense of waiting for the next comic book or catalog to arrive? Remember when the
answers to puzzles weren’t merely a Google search away? Remember using “antique
technology” like floppy disks, VCRs, and paper maps?
Modern technologies and the internet
are wonderful – absolutely – but so too are some of the invaluable experiences we had as kids:
hands-on, real-world observations, and
We want to create a journey of curiosity;
a story that embraces and builds into its core the gift of anticipation, the
puzzle of discovery, and a delightful interplay between physical mailings and
And we're not the only ones! Before posting this project we floated the concept by parents, teachers, transmedia / alt-reality game fans, and others in the Kickstarter community...
For parents to give their curious tweens
Whenabouts is an immersive exploration
story – part book, part subscription service, part game, part video series – that unfolds over the
course of half a year, delivered by way of 12 tangible mailings (yes, snail
mail!) and 12 corresponding digital experiences.
As the surprise* recipient of a curious
wood crate and its mysterious contents, your child/children will stumble into a
role assisting the teenaged Cartier twins in their accidental quest back
through time (see the story synopsis below). The key item in the box is a
care-worn journal filled with technical drawings, diary entries, symbology,
maps, and an astonishing – but obviously incomplete – manuscript. There are as
many questions as answers!
With your son and/or daughter’s
help, the twins will find and activate a series of historical “date posts”,
markers that trigger subsequent dispatches - each one conveying the
communications methods of decades and centuries past: diskettes, VHS, records,
telegrams, hand-written letters, and so on.
(*Parents are in on the adventure too! You plant the
crate for discovery – in the mailbox or under the Christmas tree, for example –
and we’ll send you a heads-up/hints email before each mailing arrives. There will also be a private discussion forum to share reactions and bounce around ideas.)
The story: a wild ride back
Marie-Anne Cartier and her
twin brother CJ are in trouble. Big trouble. Huge trouble. The kind of trouble
that sounds like, “You mean to tell me that we just made one stupid ‘big-huge
mistake’ and now we’re going to get eaten to death by dinosaurs?!”
The plan seemed pretty solid at first. Marie-Anne and
CJ had watched their father using his time machine dozens of times. Surely no
one would mind if they “borrowed” it; they’d be back before they even left! The
twins would combine their special skills to form a brash and brainy two-person
adventure squad, what could possibly go wrong?! It’s not like they’d lose their
only map home, right?
Of course, as nearly everyone knows, the only way to
safely navigate through time is to pack a temporal map into a sturdy case that
you send back to a safe time and location. Marie-Anne and CJ, unfortunately,
sent their only copy a little too far back. Now your family has the map, the
twins’ only lifeline as they hurtle blindly into the past, jumping decades and
then centuries at a time.
Is all hope lost? Maybe not quite yet. Marie-Anne and
CJ are still able to send life rafts through the mail, little “time parcels”
that arrive roughly twice a month. Can you and your family unpuzzle the Cartier’s
frantic clues, entering their “whenabouts” into their lost map before the twins’
temporal trajectory flings them too far into the past? Will you save the day or
will Marie-Anne and CJ end up as the daily special on some Triassic-era
dinosaur menu? Only time will tell!
How we’ll roll this journey out
The story begins with the initial wood box. We’ll deliver
that to you (the parent) in December – by Christmas – for you to make it “randomly
discoverable” by your daughter/son. “Hey, whose present is this? It doesn’t
have a name on it...”
A few weeks later, the first of 11 deliveries will
arrive by mail with subsequent deliveries arriving every 2-3 weeks after that.
Each mailing includes “lost” pages from the journal, a code linking to an
online video from Marie-Anne and CJ, and interactive puzzles – everything from
figuring out a virtual VCR or telegraph to finding plot clues hidden in classical melodies or 15th-century paintings.
Each mailing and digital experience relate to a
different historical era…
The penultimate delivery – the adventure’s reward – is an
actual pocket watch (an object in the story that if found returns the Cartiers
home to the near-future) and a letterpress-style wall poster recapping the
Created by an amazing team
will be produced by the creators of Warms gift boxes and gift
marketing projects; a team with toy industry, web/app
development, video production, and magazine publishing experience.
The story is being written by Jason Whiting, a
comedian, stage actor, and author of a soon-to-be-published sci-fi book for
Drawings and illustrations by toy concepts designer Benny Dongarra.
The Whenabouts website and many of the virtual
experiences will be designed and implemented by Plank, an excellent web studio
based in Montreal.
The video dispatches and clips will be directed and
edited by motion graphics master George Simeonidis. The pitch video above is
just a taste.
The project is overall managed by generalist and creative producer Steve Hardy.
We’ll also collaborate with a variety of talented
artists and suppliers for specific illustration, photography, songs, and game dev support. And with you, our pledgers, throughout the creative process.
Pledge now to support
We’re offering four types of rewards to pledge for...
The starter box and its contents
11 letter/object mailings (including postage)
12 video dispatches
12 digital experiences
now to get an even better deal with our earlybird tiers:
$75 for the first 75 pledgers (save 62.5%)
$100 for the next 100 pledgers (save 50%)
$125 for the next 125 pledgers (save 37.5%)
$150 for the next 150 pledgers (save 25%)
$175 for the next 175 pledgers (save 12.5%)
and after that the regular price is $200 each, or $350 for 2
The DELUXE package for $400 includes the same elements, plus:
One of the twins’ video messages will be personalized (the actors
will say the recipient’s name(s) and refer to inside-info provided by the
Your child’s name will be engraved on the pocket watch
Your child’s face will be drawn into the wrap-up adventure poster
[Note: The MAIN and DELUXE prices above are for U.S. and Canada addresses. Recipients elsewhere please add $75 each to cover the additional postage and preparation.]
For those who don't want the story journey but who love the idea, want to follow our progress, and wish to help us reach our goal, there's also a SUPPORTER package for $25 and a SAMPLER package for $50.
like this idea and its unusual, extended, participatory form of storytelling
and curiosity-tapping learning please pledge. Please spread the word
so that this all-or-nothing project hits its goal.
And finally, a big thank you to all
of the participants in our pre-launch survey for their generous insights!
A computer with internet connection and a current web browser.
An adult’s email address (parent or legal guardian).
A postal address (lettermail and small parcels).
A kid with insatiable curiosity, ingenuity, and love of adventure!
We are based in Canada and the pledge amounts listed on the right are in USD for residents of the US and Canada. If you’re located elsewhere, no problem - simply add the noted extra amount to cover international postage. Delivery times will vary by country.
We’ve set an ambitious goal because Whenabouts is an ambitious project; a 1-year endeavor with numerous deliverables, material and postage costs, and multiple production and development tasks to juggle. We also have very high standards for ourselves and for the quality of the whole experience.
SUPPORTER - For those who love the idea but aren't up for the journey (or don't know any tweens). Includes: a Whenabouts branded 48-page (blank) kraft-cover Field Notes memo book; a copy of the official Whenabouts wrap-up poster; insider emails (opt-in); discussion forum access; our thanks.
SAMPLER - A second supporter level, getting one of the mailed objects and access to one of the 12 digital experiences. Includes: a cubic hinge-top wood box; a Whenabouts pocket watch; access to one of the virtual experiences (which one? a surprise); insider emails (opt-in); discussion forum access; our thanks. International: +$20.
MAIN (regular price) - Includes: the starter crate and its contents (such as the "incomplete" book); 11 letter/object mailings (including postage!); 12 video dispatches; 12 digital experiences; insider/heads-up emails and discussion forum for parents. International: +$75.
DELUXE - Includes MAIN plus: one of the video dispatch messages is personalized; the recipient's name is engraved on the pocket watch; recipient's face drawn into the wrap-up poster; a Whenabouts branded 48-page (blank) kraft-cover Field Notes memo book. International: +$75.