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Virginia McCormick is a 22-year-old senior studying journalism and digital media at Sac State. She is currently acting as Assistant Director for Millennials in Media, a newly established mentorship and social group for young journalists in the Sacramento area, and has previously done freelance work for California government and politics publication Capitol Weekly. She has one older brother and has moved around the state regularly throughout her life. Outside of her studies, McCormick enjoys technology, culture, and video games.
Sacramento’s “Guardians” Seek Adventurers Through Mysterious Flyers
By Virginia McCormick
Flyers decorate telephone poles lining a main thoroughfare in Sacramento. Just blocks away from the California State Capitol, the flyers suggest a conspiracy and hint at the dread of recurring dreams and unusual coincidences.
Following the web address on the flyers leads to a puzzling image: a triangle containing what looks like Morse code, redacted text and an ominous appeal – “JOIN THE GUARDIANS.” It’s not a dark scheme. Instead, it’s an elaborate game/walking tour called The Guardians that stretches through Sacramento’s grid from Downtown to Midtown.
There’s only one person behind The Guardians game – Sacramento State student Sebastian Gray. He’s a sophomore majoring in government and has lived in Sacramento for most of his life. Over the summer, Gray set up the website and designed the game as part scavenger-hunt, part test. He calls it a “field aptitude assessment.”
“It’s not every day that you’d find a poster for a mysterious organization on the street,” says Gray. “I thought that it would just be fun to let people play in this fantasy world for a little bit.”
Gray started the project in April of this year. He arranged the game and published the website in July. He says the “whirlwind” process was part of the fun.
“That’s what I sort of liked about the project,” says Gray. “Creating things and putting them into action in the real world environment.”
Gray modeled The Guardians on a San Francisco game/walking tour about an “organization” called the Jejune Institute. That game drew more than 7,000 participants between 2008 and 2011 and was the subject of a 2013 documentary called “The Institute.”
“I just kind of built on that and gave it my own sort of spin,” says Gray. “And I thought, why not have fun with it?”
Gray wants to give residents and visitors a unique way to explore Sacramento’s grid, the State Capitol and its surrounding artwork.
“I like the idea of just, people finding something curious in the environment and then getting to play with that as they go through the different stages,” says Gray.
Gray says he will invite those who complete the aptitude assessment to “investigate” additional strange happenings throughout the city.
“From there, a greater story can play out,” says Gray.
He’s always looking for more people to join The Guardians and says that once the project generates a little more interest, he plans to reveal additional parts to the game, four in total.
“I wanted people to have a nice diversion from everyday regular occurrences and be able to partake in something that’s sort of fun and unique and unexpected,” says Gray.
Find one of Sebastian Gray’s flyers to join “The Guardians”, or go to TheGuardiansAreWatching.com, and complete the field aptitude assessment.