A YouTube gamer in the U.K. is getting to live out the ultimate ’80s sci-fi movie fantasy by having an artificially intelligent robot reside in his bedroom.
The gamer in question, Ali A, and his 4.7 million subscribers, have been asked by the meat snack brand Mattessons Fridge Raiders to help educate a robot to become “the ultimate gaming and snacking buddy.”
Saatchi & Saatchi London, the agency behind the campaign, put the robot hidden inside in a giant cube into the back yard at Ali A’s house. The contents and origin of the cube were kept under wraps at first and the gamers were asked to crack a code every day for a week in order to open the box and reveal what was inside. Ali A’s fans not only cracked the code but uploaded videos of themselves doing it. They also came up with conspiracy theories about where the cube had come from–with some even suggesting that the Illuminati might be involved.
“The reaction to cracking the code was incredible,” says Andy Jex, Executive Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi. “We deliberately made the codes tough. They were given 24 hours to crack them, but I don’t think it took any of them longer than half an hour. “
The AI robot, called FRHANK (Fridge Raiders Hunger Automated Kit) was revealed in a second video. Ali A has asked his subscribers to help him build the robot’s personality over the coming months.
They do this by visiting the site FRHANK.com where they can interact with the robot and add the information and vocabulary it will need to be part of the gaming community. This information then gets uploaded to the robot every 24 hours. Apparently, FRHANK is already getting quite an education from the gamers. “After you filter out all the rude stuff, there is a lot of gaming terminology, like ‘sick’ and ‘beast’,” says Jex.
The robot will eventually be able to sit next to a gamer, monitor and register their moves as they play and comment on their performance using its best teen and gaming slang. Already there have been 30,000 updates from the gamers to FRHANK’s intelligence. The gamers will also be asked to design some unfinished parts of the robot.
Inside the robot is a mini fridge stocked with Fridge Raiders chicken snacks. The fridge has a dispenser to allow the robot to use its hand to extract the snacks and give them to the nearest hungry gamer. Saatchi & Saatchi worked with Weir & Wong, Robosavvy and Hirsch & Mann to develop FRHANK.
The campaign follows Mattessons’ venture into the gaming world last year with a “meat snacking helmet.” The device dispensed Fridge Raiders allowing gamers to snack and play at the same time. The helmet, devised by Saatchi & Saatchi and co-created with another YouTube gamer, was a hit and the campaign films were viewed over 3.2 million times on YouTube.
FRHANK was the “scariest and most ambitious idea” the team came up with to follow on from the meat helmet, Jex says. Ali A, famed for his Call of Duty videos, was chosen for the latest campaign because of his up-and-coming status and his engagement with an adoring fanbase. “He’s also naturally funny in front of the camera,” Jex says. The celebrity gamer requested to be kept in the dark about as many of the details surrounding the project launch as was feasible, so that his reactions on camera could be natural and spontaneous.
FRHANK will be residing at Ali A’s home, which he shares with his parents and brother, until next spring. There are also plans for FRHANK to venture outside to gaming workshops, conventions and a Call of Duty game launch. There also may even be a TV show tie up.
But ultimately this robot’s rise to power depends on the gamers who engage with it.
“I like to think of it as dropping a baby robot into the hands of a gamer and his community,” says Jex. “They have to nurture it and bring it up.”