Brain Games Season Two

    National Geographic Channel, 2013


    Although it is the most essential part of the human experience, the mind remains a fairly enigmatic concept. Sure, scientists know a bit about neurons and hemispheres and other gooey bits, but how much does anyone really know about what makes you you? Brain Games, an edutainment show from National Geographic Channel, explored the mystery of the mind and how easily it can be duped by presenting fascinating interactive experiments and illusions.

    We focused our little gray cells on the task of conceptualizing and building an exciting digital campaign to entice the world's intelligentsia and the merely curious alike. To help the show become Nat Geo's highest-rated series premiere in the channel's history, we created an intriguing assortment of visual and textual head-scratchers and unleashed them on the Internet.

    By incorporating illusions and tricks into an assortment of animated, interactive web banners, push-downs, takeovers, and web skins, this robust digital campaign gave potential viewers a taste of Brain Games before the show premiered. In one striking interactive ad, the viewer was able to pull a graphical pattern across a compatible static image to trick the mind into creating the illusion of animation, even though the two component images never change. In another expectation-defying preview, show host Jason Silva appeared to reach beyond the boundaries of his ad to snatch a flying card from another area of the screen.

    Even after an episode had aired, there was more brainy fun to be had. Each one of the series' episodes was accompanied by a content-rich web page that included mind-boggling activities and detailed explanations about the concepts being explored. Neo-Pangea conceived, researched, and created nearly 40 original illusions, illustrations, and brain teasers that were released throughout the season via an existing web shell, driving repeat site visits. For example, we crafted a gallery full of static images that you could swear were moving on your screen, but tiny, involuntary eye movements called "saccades" create the illusion of motion. Other activities used images and text to challenge what the viewer thought they knew, such as whether the Empire State Building is taller than the Eiffel Tower; it is, by the way.

    It's always refreshing when TV makes one smarter rather than the inverse…