SEE THE WEB DOCUMENTARY
“You are embarking on a documentary game in which everything is real: the places, the events, the characters. Your mission? To visit Fort McMurray, measure what’s at stake, vote on referendums and debate with other players. Fort McMoney’s fate is in your hands.” 1
Fort McMoney is a self-described “documentary game” set in a real oil boomtown, Fort McMurray, located in northern Alberta, Canada.2 Players of the Fort McMoney game can explore the city, debate local issues, and vote on referendums that decide the city’s virtual fate . The critically‑acclaimed project, released in 2013, was directed by David Dufresne and co‑produced by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), ARTE, and digital agency Toxa. In the game, players control a virtual city that starts off identical to the real-life Fort McMurray, in terms of population, economic productivity, and other variables. However, over the course of four episodes,3 players debate and vote on a series of referendums that affect the balance between the social, economic and environmental health of the virtual city. The game helps players understand the situation in the town of Fort McMurray as well as the oil industry in Canada and globally. Players take part in the full life cycle of democratic decision-making in a compressed timeframe, thereby learning—by becoming active—about both the democratic process and the complicated issues at stake for the town.Fort McMoney is among the NFB’s most ambitious and widely-seen interactive documentaries, thanks both to its innovative format and its creative distribution partnerships with three major newspapers and online media partners, in three countries: The Globe and Mail and ICI Radio Canada, in Canada; Süddeutsche Zeitung in Germany; and Le Monde in France.4 This case study provides an overview of the team’s creative process, its strategies for distribution and audience engagement, and assessments of the project’s success.