The Jack Ryan Experience delivered in bringing the tense action, cerebral thrills, and sense of adventure from the Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series set to premiere on Amazon, August 31st. While series star John Krasinski wasn’t in attendance, Amazon offered ways to interact with him, as Jack Ryan, throughout the experience as a field operative in training.
After checking in and gaining credentials as a training operative, you gained access to what was a location in Yemen. Inside, operatives were able to participate in a number of activities such as intelligence gathering, blending in at the small bazaar, run the Training Field, or aid Jack Ryan himself in the Dark Ops mission. Actors mingled amongst attendees such as a reporter that was reporting live from the field to Twitch viewers participating in the Jack Ryan Experience online.
The Training Field was a 4D AR/VR obstacle course. With gear strapped on and VR goggles in place, operatives rappelled from a helicopter, crossed a high bridge with mortars exploding, survived a firefight, and ziplined to an escape vehicle they drove to safety. In reality attendees were in safe hands as the technology amped up the real world tasks.
The Dark Ops mission had operatives assisting Jack Ryan acquiring information and ensuring the safety of an asset. Our team decoded communications, grabbed fake and real money (free money!) in a swirling wind tunnel, remote direct a drone strike, and aided in the saving of one of our team members we hadn’t realized had been captured. It would be overly simplistic to call the Dark Ops mission a puzzle room. Puzzles were key, but the narrative drove the action and infused our team with a sense of urgency. The tasks we were asked to complete by John Krasinski himself (his voice at least) are actually tied to and referenced in the first episode of the series when Jack Ryan will be calling for assistance. In true Dark Ops fashion no pictures or video were allowed during the mission while inside.
Operatives who completed both the Training Field and Dark Ops were rewarded with challenge coins bearing insignia of the experience.
I’ve attended many number of these activations and have yet to experience something of this scale at Comic-Con. 60,000 sq ft of interactive narrative using AR and VR technology, mesh networks, a troupe of actors, and online interaction via Twitch. Much like a grand magic illusion where the hard work is hidden, the amount of work attendees didn’t see behind the scenes at the Jack Ryan Experience was staggering. We were given a sneak peek behind the scenes and both the Training Field and Dark Ops had their own command centers that mimic that of a live sports event with directors calling out cues quickly. Imagine that over eight hours—over four days!
Many brands bring activations to Comic-Con, but often they fall short on narrative and emotional cues for attendees to care. Rare is the case where they’re as interactive and engaging as what Amazon created. Amazon truly brought the widescreen of blockbuster movies to television, and to the streets of San Diego Comic-Con.