The premise of the game is based on the real-life story of photographer Winthrop A. Davis, whose work chronicled the construction of Hoover Dam and the early days of Las Vegas. One of the ways Davis made money during his time at the dam was by selling prints of his photographs to tourists. He had a large photo album on the counter at the general store in Boulder City that contained hundreds of his images. People would come in, and if they liked a photo, they could order a print. The album was chained to the countertop to prevent theft; however, as the story goes, one day someone came into the store, cut the chain with bolt cutters, and took the photo book. No one knows for certain what happened to it, and the photo album was lost for decades. Roughly 85 years later, while doing research in Nevada, Dr. Arrigo serendipitously found it stuffed in a box in the basement of a small local library outside of Las Vegas. How it ended up there is anyone’s guess. This sets the context for VR Hoover Dam.
The game begins with the player coming upon the (actual) cabin of Winthrop Davis at some unidentified time long after the dam has been built. The player enters the cabin and sees Winthrop Davis sitting at his desk and next to his ham radio. There, Davis provides some background on the dam and talks about his photography. In our scenario, the photo album is there, but important photos are missing. The player’s task is to find the missing photographs-which will be his actual photographs-and return them to the photo album. The player will do this by teleporting back in time to the damsite using a wrist-worn PDA device. There they will complete educational missions, interact with characters, and learn about the dam’s history, design, its various impacts on the environment, economics, human communities, and so forth. Each photograph that is successfully returned to Davis’ album will open a new quest in which the player will either go to a different period in the dam’s construction, or interact with different historical figures or groups, or learn about a new aspect of the dam or its history. This setup will allow us to cover the entirety of the dam’s history, while also developing missions as we go and releasing them as new downloadable content packets.