“Suits Recruits” Throws Fans Into the Deep End at Pearson Hardman

June 12, 2012 · By Michael Andersen in Features, Game Launch, News 

On Thursday, June 14th, USA Network’s legal drama Suits comes back for its second season. For some fans, however, the season started early with an application for an unpaid internship at Pearson Hardman, one of Manhattan’s most elite law firms and the setting for Suits. Over the next five weeks, interns will work as paralegals and interns supporting the cast of Suits on a pending lawsuit in Suits Recruits, an interactive story-game running in parallel with the television show. Two interns will even receive a $50,000 bonus after the successful completion of their time at Pearson Hardman, embracing a compensation plan that’s quixotic even for “big law.”

The experience starts with your job interview at Pearson Hardman, where Donna (Sarah Rafferty) asks if you want to join up as an assistant or paralegal. Assistants are exposed more to office gossip and politics, while paralegals may find themselves parsing through the details of the lawsuit. Most of the game’s action is conducted over the company’s intranet, with characters from the show periodically asking questions to seek advice, gauge how well you’ve been paying attention, or even test your pop culture knowledge. Players are then assigned their first case, a lawsuit ripped from the headlines, with a former intern suing his former employer for unpaid wages a month before the company’s stock goes public. Your goal is to assist the Pearson Hardman team in representing the company…and while getting questions wrong won’t derail the investigation, missing too many questions might result in losing your chance at the $50,000 bonus.

Jesse Redniss, SVP of Digital at USA Networks, explains that Suits Recruits is designed to “bring the intrigue and excitement of working at a law firm to life . . . [and to] simulate that team experience you get when working in a law office.” Accordingly, in order to rise to the top of the internship pool, paralegals will need to share information with their assistant counterparts either by enlisting a friend to join the fun, or at the Water Cooler. As 30 Ninjas’s Julina Tatlock explains, “the two different roles work as a narrative fugue.”

Suits Recruits is not USA Network’s first foray into the online storytelling space, following up on the network’s experiments with the Covert Affairs Tweetcast and Psych‘s Hashtag Killer mystery. Like its predecessors, Suits Recruits is a replayable game that can be started at any time, although it offers strong incentives to play from the onset. For the Covert Affairs Tweetcast, players following along in real time got to see their efforts rewarded in an episode concluding the game’s events. In Hashtag Killer, the most active Psych-O’s following the game live had the dubious pleasure of being immortalized as victims of the game’s serial killer.

For Suits Recruits, the pay-off takes the form of a narrative arc that crosses platforms as events in the television show sync up with events playing out online, and vice versa. Redniss explains that this flexibility stems from the close involvement of showrunner Aaron Korsh and Hypnotic Films, the show’s production company. This allows the team to “work directly with them to craft storylines…not just afterthoughts.”

Since the bulk of storytelling involves drawing players into the character banter that is central to the show’s appeal, this close alignment with the show’s creator is essential. And based on the first day’s content, the writing team on Suits Recruits has done an exemplary job of capturing the voices of the show’s cast, with witty repartee flying fast and furious both on the intranet and in the game’s first video, where Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) and Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) engage in a conversation solely comprised of movie quotes. Social Samba’s self-imposed time limits on responses, where extended periods of silence are met with a default response, helps to add a sense of urgency to the game. Lexus’s pre-roll advertisements before every video do tend to detract from the game’s almost frenetic pacing, but that somewhat jarring break in the narrative only serves to highlight the game’s immersiveness.

Head on over to SuitsRecruits.com to submit your internship application at Pearson Hardman, and tune in to Suits on USA Network Thursdays at 10PM EST / 9PM CST for the full experience.

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