Wear Headphones, Make New Friends

Headphones are associated with being used if someone wants to keep to themselves, listening to a certain type of music without being bothered.

However, wearing headphones for the purpose of AVAdventure is completely opposing to their normal purpose. Headphones are used as a form of interaction through storytelling, playing games, and getting to know others. In the Alumni Lounge on Thursday, Feb. 6, SCOPE had a program called AVAdventure, which was unfortunately underrated.

I thought this was one of the most interesting events put on at this school, just because the whole norm of technology was brought to a new level I had never experienced. Liz Sykes and Adam Stackhouse created this business of theirs because they believed headphones would work for interactive storytelling. Originally, the idea of using headphones in social gatherings developed in European silent discos. People were complaining of noise at wee hours of the morning, and nightclubs would get violations. So, the use of  the best bone conduction headphone was an innovative way to counteract that. Liz and Adam have taken this method and brought it to gatherings in America, traveling all over the country from elementary schools in California to business gatherings in Massachusetts.

They developed AVAdventure in Virginia in 2007. By 2011, the pair went full time with the business when they saw that interest in events was growing. It is usually only the two of them who do an event, however actors are sometimes hired for bigger productions. For events with large crowds, such as high schools or universities, a story is written specifically for the school. One high school had AVAdventure for their homecoming; the plot was that their mascot was kidnapped, and students were running around doing activities to solve the mystery.

Here at UNH, a much smaller crowd showed up for the program. Upon coming into the Alumni Lounge, students were given a set of headphones with two channels, A and B; on one, Liz would speak, and on the other, Adam. The first game played was “would you rather” with a twist. On each channel, different questions were asked, and students had to walk to one side of the room if they picked on option, and to the opposite side for the other choice. The catch was that you never knew if a person was picking the same option as you, or if they were on a different channel and hearing a different question. In other words, someone may move to the left side of the room, because they picked the choice of dogs over cats (asked on channel A), whereas someone else might go to the left side because they picked the choice of knowing the date of their death, over the method of their death (asked on channel B).

This created some strange stares and bursts of laughter. In another game, participants were placed in either a smaller inner circle or the larger outer circle, and would interact from person to person by creating handshakes, guessing the tune played, shouting out your favorite things and creating dances.

The group then moved over to a makeshift stage area for more activities. The first was a storytelling game in which one person narrated a story about a haunted house, while three others had to provide the sound effects as an auditory visual. This let participants use their imagination as they had to think of sounds such as a key turning in a lock, monsters in the distance or the smashing of a bookcase.

The audience was listening to the whole story on their headphones, as if it was a radio show. After a few more games, Liz and Adam put some colourful lights on, and the rest of the two hours were used as a silent disco.

Different music played on channels A and B, so participants could listen to whatever they desired. The crowd doubled at this point, not surprisingly, as people were attracted to the pulsing neon lights emanating from the Alumni Lounge. Students could sing and dance and not think twice about it since no one could hear them, or know what song they were listening to.

Liz spoke of the perks of her job, saying “we get to meet all kinds of people and tell stories in ways that haven’t been done before”. If ever you hear an event named AVAdventure, do not hesitate to jump into this program and see how technology can actually be used for face-to-face interaction.