Something very strange happened to Rexford Higgs back in March. An aficionado of wondrous artifacts and things from bygone days, Rex uncovered by chance a set of blueprints for a strange device, hidden in a tin box in a construction site near LA’s Miracle Mile. Fascinated by his find, Rex launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the building of his Time Switch. This campaign was used by Transmedia L.A. to serve as the real-world Kickstarter campaign to fund Rexford Higgs’ story as an alternate reality game, The Miracle Mile Paradox. Transmedia L.A., a monthly meetup group of people in the Los Angeles area interested in transmedia storytelling, is using The Miracle Mile Paradox as an experiment in alternate reality game development for its members.
In late May, Rex succeeded in activating the Time Switch and received a transmission from the past sent by a woman, Jane Winthrop, warning him that he was likely being watched, but he must continue his work. Two days later, he received a cease and desist order from Agent Intellect Corp (AIC). This marked the beginning of a series of threatening messages warning Rex away from Miracle Mile. After being assaulted, presumably by AIC agents, Rex fled into hiding after securing the Time Switch device in a secret location, leaving his friends and followers to piece his clues together and help retrieve the rest of Jane’s message.
The Miracle Mile Paradox ARG officially kicked off on July 4th and will run through the first week of September, so there is still lots of time to get caught up on the story and participate. While the ARG is location-based in the Miracle Mile area of Los Angeles, California, Transmedia L.A. has provided non-resident supporters with a number of ways to follow along with the story and help solve the mystery of the Time Switch, Jane Winthrop, and the powerful AIC. According to the game’s Kickstarter page, online players can follow the story through “Rex’s blog, websites, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, Pinterest boards, email accounts and much, much more. There might even be some hacking in to AIC employee accounts….” Local participants can unlock and retrieve Time Switch messages within the Miracle Mile itself – all under the watchful eye of AIC, of course.
Five transmissions have been retrieved from the Time Switch so far, each with a coded message at the end – a number followed by a word. Speculation is that once all of the messages with their words and numbers have been received, the greater message can be pieced together. However, the messages are garbled with static, and player speculation is that this is due to AIC’s interference on the transmission frequencies. The static has made for interesting debate among players about the numbers and words transmitted.
This past Saturday, Miracle Mile supporters rallied against AIC. In the year of the Occupy movement, who doesn’t love a resistance movement against evil corporations? Senior Corporate Counsel for AIC, Carter Legum, remarked on Saturday, “AIC employees: If you are working today, please be aware that we seem to have genuine placard-toting protestors outside the building.”
A sizable cast of characters has appeared as the ARG has unfolded, including Rex’s friends as well as employees of AIC and a rebel named Cassandra who’s life goal is to bring AIC to its knees. An in-game forum (which requires users to register in order to view content) provides a place for players to interact with main characters in addition to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media avenues.
Get caught up and dive in to the Paradox:
A note on the player-created Miracle Mile Paradox wiki at WikiSpaces: if you want to see the information collected in this wiki, you must request access to the wiki with a note “UG sent me.” A player made the wiki private to keep it from the prying eyes of AIC, although I would guess that the game’s PMs are not likely to use the wiki information in-game. The information on how to gain access was only distributed in the in-game forum, however, so casual players may not be aware that they need to use a code-phrase in order to access and view the wiki.