Way back in 2014, members of an online chat room attempted to play – en masse – the videogame Pokémon Red, in a social experiment dubbed ‘Twitch Plays Pokémon’. At its peak, millions of users ‘played’ the game, chaotically issuing contradictory commands in ways no single player ever would alone. Progress was slow; lore developed. It was glorious.
Manchester’s Foxdog Studios channel some of that emergent chaos in Robo Bingo, the latest in their line of hybrid high-tech, lo-fi, interactive musical comedy shows. Though if you’ve ever seen them light up a pub basement in the past, Robo Bingo is perhaps their slickest yet – homebrew cardboard props notwithstanding.
If the label ‘interactive’ fills you with dread, read on. This level of interaction is (mostly) as harmless as trying to anonymously play Pokémon through a livestream chat room. Upon arrival, you’ll be asked to access a website on your phone, from which you’ll be able to participate in various games and skits. Mostly, it’s bingo (though the duo’s deadpan MCing and twists on the format ensure fairly constant hilarity) – until things start getting weirder and more unruly in the second half.
To say more would be to spoil the ingenious ideas, technology and, er, prizes on offer in Robo Bingo. It’s like an unhinged Jackbox Party Game, except with dozens of people you don’t know, an adorable robot protagonist and a surprising amount of information about the Isle of Man. It's inspired, completely unpredictable and eye-wateringly funny.