When Stephen Sondheim wrote Send in the Clowns, chances are good that he didn’t expect anyone to take him at his word. However, for 140 lucky participants, Friday morning at Comic-Con included a chance to become one of the Joker’s gang. If you haven’t met the Joker, perhaps it’d be best if you brushed up on your vigilante hero folklore. As it turns out, the Caped Crusader wasn’t around to stop the mob from taking over the streets of San Diego, moving effortlessly from location to location, many being aided by associates with Internet access, in an audition to fill one of the coveted slots in the Joker’s army. As it turns out, however, the luckiest of the lucky became real unlucky, real quick. Okay, not really — but it makes for a good comic book ending.
Now that I’ve thoroughly confused those of you that haven’t been following along with the happenings at whysoserious.com, let’s backtrack a bit. First, there were a number of uncommon dollar bills making the rounds at the Con last night, leading to the discovery of a creepy looking web site and a countdown. Next came the end of the countdown earlier today (10 am PDT) and a clue for the throngs of people ready for something big to happen. Once the game was on, it was a race that required a coordinated effort between those on the ground and people on the ‘net (unless you carried a Wifi-enabled device with you along the way) that took players to eight different checkpoints over 100 minutes of game play.
Speaking as one of the online participants, when I heard that the players were being asked to don face makeup to match that of the Joker, the mental image was as funny as it was disturbing and cool. However, whatever I could come up with in my head was no match for this picture, part of the surveillance page at Why So Serious. I mean, forget the Kiss army, that’s one heck of a scary-looking bunch. And without spoiling any of the answers for you, the online progression was a visual treat that included puzzles that were of the “not too hard, not too easy, just right” variety. Of course, the action in the chat rooms and on the forums across the world wide web must have paled in comparison to the frenzy taking place on the scene, which was documented well and in a timely fashion.
(By the way, if you look closely at some of the people without clown makeup, you may recognize one or two (or 42) people working for a well-known company. ‘Nuff said.)
So what did the winner get? Well, besides the cool swag, he got a prize… to die for. And after the dust had settled and the situation was under control, we understand the participants were invited back to a checkpoint for a collectible to remember the day by, as everyone else will ahve to settle for a new Dark Knight movie trailer. Thanks to the winner, we were also reminded to watch for a Dark Knight ARG in December, something many people will be anticipating after the successful events of today.
A big thanks to Celina Beach, aka Deep Six Frankie, for allowing us to guide her efforts through the game. She was an awesome player, a patient listener, and a treat to see after her disturbing makeover.