The famed illusionist and skeptic Harry Houdini died in Detroit Grace Hospital, Room 401 at 1:26PM on Halloween of 1926. A life shrouded in secrecy ended with secrecy, as the master magician left friends and family with ten words that, if uttered, would conclusively prove his greatest escape of all.
Almost a century later, MTV’s new reality show “Room 401″ pays homage to the tricks and illusions of Houdini by assembling skilled illusionists to scare the living daylights out of unsuspecting victims. And as those of you who read BoingBoing already know, executive producer Ashton Kutcher is providing viewers with a little something extra.
Embedded within select frames in each episode of “Room 401″ are shots of Ashton Kutcher holding up cue cards with clues leading to various websites including clips from future episodes and bonus features such as the storyboard for the show’s teaser. While the puzzles are a trifle simplistic and there does not yet appear to be a cohesive plot, the fun of this game is derived from searching the show’s frames for secret messages (behavior that must make the show’s advertisers ecstatic). Additionally, players are finding hints of something bigger in the websites’ registration information in addition to morse in the online videos, so the possibility for more exists.
Each episode leads players to discover a new website. The game’s most recent website, as of the third episode, has a countdown ending at the next episode and presumably additional content Tuesday at 10pm (EST). Be careful, though–follow the game too closely, and you just might end up the final victim of Room 401.