As part of the Drexel Campus Activities Board’s comedy week, the Urban Playground organization gathered over 100 people to participate in a quite-interesting MP3 Experiment. The MP3 Experiment was an event organized by Improv Everywhere and its founder, Charlie Todd. Of course Urban Playground was prepared to take on the MP3 Experiment head-on with the right tools (themselves) and the right resources (the students of Drexel).
The MP3 Experiment is a mass social game, created by Charlie Todd, in which participants download a 45-minute MP3 file to their MP3 players, go to the same public location, and at a specific, predetermined time, press play and begin to carry out coordinated instructions delivered to their headphones via a narrator, “Steve.” Last Wednesday Urban Playground exercised its own Urban Playground experiment on the Race Street lawn. In a large group, all the participants gathered together on the lawn coordinated in clothing of only red, green, yellow or blue, and were all carrying MP3 players. As the game ensued, students from every angle outside on Drexel’s campus watched in awe trying to interpret what exactly was going on. Even one passerby jokingly mentioned, “That is the weirdest thing I have ever seen.” The game went on for 45 minutes as its participants changed routines, enthusiastically following the directions of their MP3 narrator, who was mute to the audience. From running to skipping to falling down or twirling or dancing, all the participants were engaged in the event for the entire 45 minutes. One mentionable highlight of the event was when all the participants began to start a balloon fight with the balloons they had brought. They then proceeded to stamp on the balloons, creating a large firecracker noise like it was the Fourth of July. Completely mute to the MP3 player narrator, the audience could only sit, watch, and imagine what these participants could possibly be instructed to do.
After the event was over I was able to speak to some of the smiling, winded participants to talk to them about their experience. One participant, Eric Greene, a sophomore at Drexel and treasurer of Urban Playground, had summed up the experience perfectly in a few words: “It was a very happy experience. Sometimes overwhelming, but in a good way. Everyone was in smiles. There was a lot of confusion and laughing. A lot of people wanted to participate. There was even a guy who wanted to participate that wasn’t a part of the event and started to join in on the fly.” Other participants mentioned how effective the event was because of the creativeness of Improv Everywhere and Urban Playground.
“It just seemed like one of those fun and huge things. I already knew about Improv Everywhere and Charlie Todd, and that just made me want to do it more,” Peyton Parrott, a freshman at Drexel, said. “I went into it expecting it to be a lot of fun, and it was fun. It was good because it gave people something to talk about, and some people are still talking about it, so I think it did what it set out to do.”
Just from the reactions I had personally seen from the students watching the event or participating in it, there is no doubt that this event was a huge sensation. With over 250 people participating and at least 100 more in attendance, this event was truly Urban Playground’s biggest success. Once again, Urban Playground achieves what it sets out to do as the “friendly flash mob group” by creating a positive and creative way for young students to express themselves.