Grateful Dead Alter Reality Once Again with Upcoming Game

Grateful Dead fans know what they like and, unsurprisingly enough, what they usually like is anything related to the Grateful Dead. In the past, Dead Heads have devoured live, bootleg recordings of any show they could get their hands on, followed the band's tours across the world and, of course, bought nearly anything with those iconic Grateful Dead related symbols emblazened on them. Now, however, the Dead are set to give their fans something entirely different: a virtual reality game.

Grateful Dead fans know what they like and, unsurprisingly enough, what they usually like is anything related to the Grateful Dead. In the past, Dead Heads have devoured live, bootleg recordings of any show they could get their hands on, followed the band’s tours across the world and, of course, bought nearly anything with those iconic Grateful Dead related symbols emblazened on them. Now, however, the Dead are set to give their fans something entirely different: a virtual reality game.

Grateful Dead’s record label, Rhino Entertainment, has announced work on a new, as-of-yet-untitled game that is currently being developed in partnership with digital entertainment company Curious Sense.

Chief executive of Curious Sense (and self-proclaimed Dead Head) Adam Blumenthal conceived of the upcoming title after gaining serious jam band cred through his previous software development work with acts including REO Speedwagon and Phish. Although exactly what the gameplay itself will be constituted of is still unknown, Blumenthal has (hilariously enough) described the project as a ” . . . psychedelic journey through Grateful Dead history.” Curious Sense has also promised the inclusion of Grateful Dead imagery so fans can expect to find a title filled to the brim with the band’s beloved skeletons and roses (but not the drugs — Curious Sense has been quick to point out that the game will be a “family friendly” one).

Rhino and Grateful Dead’s decision to move forward with a game is part of a joint strategy for accessing new audiences. Considering that the Dead has been officially defunct since the death of frontman Jerry Garcia in 1995, it risks the possibility of fading from the public consciousness without new branding and marketing efforts. Surviving members of the act continue to tour Grateful Dead material (in various configurations and band names) and have always maintained interaction with their devoted following in order to gauge future plans. Information gathered through the official Grateful Dead website has lead the group to consider new media, like the upcoming game, as an appropriate step forward.

Board games are so 20th century
Credit:

The fact that the Dead has always been able to count on one of the most notoriously rabid fan bases in entertainment, the Dead Heads, gives the project another boost as well: a guaranteed, pre-established audience. This is essential for Curious Sense given that the software firm is financing the entire development process and only sees return as part of their shares with Grateful Dead Productions. Those returns are all but in the pocket, however, as Curious Sense will be able to give Dead followers a true, band-endorsed experience.

Blumenthal plans to work with surviving members of the Grateful Dead in order to receive feedback and direction from the band itself going forward. His firm has also received exclusive rights to the group’s archive of commercial records and permission to render any official member of the band in digital form. Curious Sense has also outlined plans to organize a fan contest through February and March that will allow for the submission of game character art that will be used in game development.

The untitled Grateful Dead game is set for release through Facebook, various game portals, mobile devices and www.dead.net on August 1st, 2011. Its basic version will be available for free with Curious Sense gaining revenue through possible subscription or membership fees.