What on earth is ARCADE? A perspective from our new CSO, Alex Book

Alex Book standing in the ARCADE offices

A few months ago, of my own free will and being of sound mind (or as sound as it ever was), I handed in my notice as Strategy Director at one of the world’s pre-eminent branding agencies, to join what is, essentially, an augmented reality start-up.

Except it’s not really an augmented reality start-up. Or at least, that’s not why we’re doing it. Instead, ARCADE is a collaboration of like-minds with complementary expertise who share a vision of reconnecting people and places through play. Immersive tech – and augmented reality in particular – is simply the perfect medium to achieve it.

When Jon and Simon first shared this with me, I found it irresistible. Let me briefly explain why. The reason I first got into branding was an article by the irreplaceable Wally Olins on the then-nascent discipline of place branding. In it, he talked about the importance of good branding (as opposed to logo design) as one of the most important tools in enabling places to tell their stories and become the places they wanted to be. I’ve been fortunate to work on a variety of place brands and other visitor / tourism categories and, through ARCADE, I now get to come at this from a whole new angle. And the timing couldn’t be better.

Places – by which we mean cultural institutions, heritage sites and other visitor attractions – are under threat. Report after report highlights that visitors (i.e. people like you and me), increasingly spoilt by being able to carry an entire universe of information and entertainment around in our pockets, are demanding more from the places we visit. Blinded by the screens in front of us, we stop paying attention to the beauty and fascination of the physical spaces around us. They fade into the background and lose their distinctiveness – their sense of place.

We at ARCADE want to change that. Not by forcing people to put their phones away; quite the opposite. We want to give these magical machines a positive role in reawakening us to these incredible places and the wonders within. We want to turn them into windows that reveal hidden worlds, make walls talk and give places a whole new way to capture our imaginations. We want them to guide us, challenge us, entertain us and sweep us seamlessly from one experience to the next.In short, we want them to make places playable.

We augment reality to make places playable

This is what we’re all about. We augment reality to make places playable. Because by becoming a Playable Place™, public cultural spaces can reassert themselves in this booming, digital-led experience economy, and re-introduce us to their spirit. Their soul. Their sense of place. So that's who we are, that's why I'm here, and if you share my excitement about the possibilities of Playable Places™ - give me a call.

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