With little fanfare outside of Italy, Netflix is making a very unusual move. On January 16, they are launching a real-life game based on Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch, but it’s only available in Italy. The game is almost as mysterious as Black Mirror itself. So far, there are no hints that this game will take place anywhere else. If you want to participate, you’ll have to follow Netflix’s Italy Instagram account on Wednesday, January 16 from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. in Italy, which is approximately 3 a.m. Eastern on January 16 to 1 p.m. Here’s everything we know about the game so far.
Netflix’s Official Facebook Page for Italy Announced the Game & Created a Facebook Event for It
In some ways, it’s hard to believe this event is real. But judging by what Netflix did with a previous Italy-only Black Mirror event (see the last section in this story for details), it’s easy to believe this one is real too. The original video about the event was shared by Netflix Italy, a verified Facebook page that actually redirects to Netflix U.S. if you try to visit in the United States (and you’re not in incognito mode.) The Black Game Facebook page was created by the same Netflix Italy Facebook account. The game has not been mentioned yet on Netflix Italy’s Instagram or Twitter accounts.
Netflix Italy described the game this way on Facebook: “Bandersnatch was just the beginning. Stefan was just a fictional character, with whom you played. Now it’s time to get serious: with The Black Game, for a day, you’ll decide the story. But it will be someone else to live it. No matter which part of Italy you are on January 16th, to participate, just follow Netflix on Instagram and interact with the stories that we will share on the 16th. Take part in the experiment that will upset the life of a person: become Black Gamers.”
Netflix Launched a Video Describing How Participants Will Control Individuals for a Day via Instagram
On January 11, Netflix Italy’s Facebook page launched a video that you can view below, announcing the mysterious game launching on January 16. This particular video may not be viewable outside of Italy, depending on your browser and other settings. If you try to visit Netflix Italy’s Facebook page directly, you’ll be redirected to your own country’s Facebook page, which won’t mention this game unless you’re in Italy. You can, however, bypass this by visiting the page in incognito mode, or by visiting the game’s Facebook Event page instead.
Here’s the one and only video shared so far about the game:
If the video above doesn’t work, the embed below might:
The entire video is in Italian and as of the time of publication, we don’t have a full translation. However, we ran the video through a Google Translate program for some help. The translation isn’t complete or perfect, but it gives us a little more of an idea of what’s going on. Here’s some of what we were able to translate so far. ”
“Welcome. We have noticed that lately you had fun playing with the protagonist. … that of deciding for another person and controlling it… For this we decided to carry out an experiment on control that is called The Black Game. … For a person’s life, you will be the one to choose what will happen to him during the day and you will always be the one to decide … You show me the person that we are still looking for … Soon we will tell you who will be the chosen one in the events page of the Game.”
As you can see, that’s a very imperfect translation. We’ll add a better translation as soon as it’s available. In the meantime, here are some photos from the video. As you can see, the video has quite a few Easter eggs in it from Bandersnatch and other Black Mirror episodes.
The video also included what might be the group of people you’ll be controlling during The Black Game. Or they might just be representing the people who will be controlled — we’re not sure at this point.
The game is described by Netflix Italy as a “Black Mirror Event.” Although most discussion about the game is happening outside the U.S., the game has come up a couple times on Reddit. In the first discussion, visitors weren’t sure if it was real. In a later discussion, they were intrigued, but no one had any idea what was happening.
Netflix Hosted an Exclusive, Mysterious Black Mirror Social Experiment in Italy Before Season 4
There’s actually precedence for a Black Mirror event being available only in Italy. Smart World noted that the Black Future Social Club also took place in Italy, and only people with 1,000 followers or more on Instagram could participate. (That feels a bit Nosedive-ish to me.) After digging into that a bit more, I learned that this was another Black Mirror social experiment in Italy that took place before the launch of Season 4. This time, an audience was put into a potential episode of the show in order to explore the effect of technology on society. They were able to attend a social club for two days, but only if they had 1,000 followers or more on Instagram.
Branding News explained more, adding that DUDE Agency helped Netflix Italy put on this event. Once participants entered the event, their fate was decided by how many likes they had, and their likes doubled as currency. They had to post photos of their food and could only continue if their photos got enough likes.
People who didn’t have enough Instagram followers could interact with a vending machine and try to negotiate their way inside. If they posted a story on Instagram, they’d get 200+ followers. The unique campaign was supported by ads, print and social media, and a Facebook event page that was quite mysterious. Here’s what the event was like:
So on the basis of that previous event, it looks like this one is very real. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Remember, if you want to participate, you’ll have to follow Netflix’s Italy Instagram account on Wednesday, January 16 from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. in Italy, which is approximately 3 a.m. Eastern on January 16 to 1 p.m. It’s likely that people outside of Italy will somehow be prevented from participating. It appears that details about the game will be released via Instagram Stories rather than permanent Instagram posts.