When MTV chose to add a horror movie to its programming schedule, it was with the understanding that the film would be a stark departure from the reality shows that currently dominate the network. The venture was carefully fleshed out and the pulse of the people was examined: MTV used Eventful.com to see if 100,000 people would express interest. When the counter reached that magic number, Savage County was slated for broadcast on October 7th, at 11PM EST/10PM CST.
Savage County features a group of teens that drive over to the Hardell residence on a dare to pull a knock-and-dash. This prank goes horribly wrong when the eldest of the Hardell clan ends up dead, setting in motion a vengeful killing spree as the rest of the Hardell family seek to impose their kind of vigilante justice on the residents of Savage County.
And where the movie ends, the alternate reality game begins. Head of MTV’s New Media division, David Gale, was inspired to continue the thread of the Hardell story through an online extension, and hired writer and transmedia producer Nina Bargiel to flesh out the experience. Bargiel was kind enough to come out from behind the curtain and offer her perspective on this on-going project. “The ARG is part of the overall transmedia experience,” Bargiel said about the background of this storyline. “When I was hired, there was some pre-existing prequel narrative – the great Sinner’s Medicine comic by Director and Co-Writer David Harris.”
Just in time for Sunday’s premiere, the Dexter alternate reality game ended on September 23rd with the Infinity Killer’s death.
The game’s conclusion was appropriate for a game riddled with references to the inevitability of fate. Driscoll Connor, also known as the “Infinity Killer” and “F8,” arranged to meet the self-professed “Serial Huntress” Dee Pratt at a restaurant with two remote-operated rifles trained at both of their heads. The Infinity Killer then left both of their fates in the hands of the players, asking them to vote for who would live and who would die. This dramatic stand-off, streamed live at a hacked version of the Serial Huntress website, echoed both characters’ formative experiences as potential victims of the Roulette Killer over thirty years ago. As a child, Connor chose to shoot the Roulette Killer instead of shooting Pratt. And finally, decades later, the players chose to spare Pratt, condemning Connor to a death worthy of a serial killer of his caliber.
The final moments of the game were broadcast live and are now available on YouTube, providing a look inside the mind of a deranged psychopath and also insight into his determined hunter’s motivation. During The Infinity Killer’s final moments, he looked at his monitor, tallied the numbers, and accepted his fate.
The end of this alternate reality game also serves as a chance for Modernista! to tally the numbers and reflect, as the creators of this experience. The team should be lauded for providing an overarching plot that was easy to follow along with at the developer-created Hunter Prey blog, for allowing for a significant amount of interaction between the characters and the players, and for remaining intriguing to the last moment. Active player discussions led to over 11,000 posts on the Serial Huntress forums alone over the course of the game. Those that followed the Dexter alternate reality game from the beginning will remember it fondly.
The hunt for a serial killer is nothing new in the world of alternate reality games. However when this experience is backed by a major broadcasting company, it invariably spills out of the computer screen and into the real world. The culprit in this case is the Showtime television series Dexter. The show follows the life of Dexter Morgan, a forensic expert working for Miami PD who is a serial killer himself. In past years, Showtime has led into the new season of Dexter by setting up a Dexter-themed newsstand parodying popular magazines, releasing a personalized faux-news report letting viewers give friends the “Dexter treatment”, turning thirteen fountains across the country red with fake blood (with Philadelphia’s Love Park Fountain pictured above), and airing an animated web series providing a look at some of Dexter’s first kills. This year, an alternate reality game will welcome in the new season of Dexter, which returns September 25th.
As we previously reported at ARGNet, a Dexter-themed SCVNGR mission at Comic-Con led players to a grisly kill room. The players of this experience joined the hunt through their contact, Dee Pratt, a former FBI agent. Her website, SerialHuntress.com, is the first introduction to the now infamous serial killer known as the ‘Infinity Killer.’ Pratt’s interest in the case borders on obsession but that also translates to frequent updates via her YouTube account, SerialHuntress. In a true stroke of genius, she determined that harnessing collective intelligence would be the most effective way of tracking the killer down, and started her venture Justice By All, which also serves as the in-game forum area.
The technologies used for this game range from Facebook and Twitter to international phones that sometimes reveal vital information (but only if you are nice) and require cooperation of the player base to reach certain conclusions by the timelines imposed. The game’s developers have maintained a steady pace that allows everyone to be fully immersed in a cat-and-mouse thrill ride. All in-game characters have responded promptly to player requests, even the character that was supposedly in China, which helps maintain both interest and interaction.
Imagine that in today’s tough economy you were forced to sell gizmos to as wide of a population as you can reach. And, all things being equal, your gizmos are not really that unique. Other salesmen are out there trying to sell their similar gizmos to a wide demographic as well. What do you do? Wrap your gizmo inside a shiny wrapper of course! The philosophy also applies to viral marketing that attempts to push a product such as a movie, a video game, or even (in this case) a new album from a music artist to the consumers.
Enter iamamiwhoami, a YouTube user that joined the service and set out to upload music videos of various time lengths under cryptic names and with a content that resembles something between Bjork’s artistic creations and the feature film Pan’s Labyrinth. As time went by, a more coherent message emerged from this viral campaign.
But let’s talk a bit more about the video content. The central figure appears to be a female that quickly sparked the general interest among those following the viral. Speculation abounded with regards to her identity: the popular choice shifted from Christina Aguilera, to Lady GaGa, to a speculation that this is an artist backed by Trent Reznor of NIN/Year Zero fame. Finally a strong possibility has emerged that Swedish singer/songwriter Jonna Lee is the culprit even though her own management denied involvement. The otherworldly themes that appear on the video tend to have a more eco-conscious message, and the music ranges from tribal to electronica. And yes, it even features a male character dancing around in his underwear.
An island’s quiet life is rocked by a brutal murder — that is the beginning of the story behind Harper’s Island, the new TV series by CBS set to air starting on April 9th. But even before the series premiere, the curious among us can already immerse themselves into the narrative by participating in the “social show” that has been built to promote the show, and we have news from the team at EQAL as to what we can expect from both Harper’s Island and its multimedia counterpart.
The proverbial rabbit hole, or starting point, is found at the web site harpersglobe.com. Designed as the island’s news resource, it introduces the players to Robin, a college student that was recently hired under mysterious circumstances to be the paper’s community manager and archivist. Working diligently, she posts videos of her progress which is when things get weird. As she starts to unravel the mystery of the island’s past (in full view of all the players, no less), a new character is introduced that has seemingly sinister intentions, drastically changing the atmosphere of the community.
Once the TV show airs, the players will advance further into the story and the mystery surrounding it. CBS is tight lipped about the project’s details, other than promising that the players/viewers will not only watch but also help catch the real killer. It’s possible that this is why people are encouraged to setup their profile once they sign up on Harper’s Globe — the social networking features may help players to interact with the characters of the ARG/TV show.
We had a few questions about what might happen with the online experience once the television show debuts in two weeks, so we went straight to the source yesterday and got in touch with Miles Beckett, the co-founder and CEO at EQAL, who has partnered with the producers of Harper’s Island to create Harper’s Globe. Beckett had as many answers as we had questions, so hit the jump for all of the gritty details.
Up in the sky! It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s the New Superman ARG!
A new project set in the world created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster in 1932, this alternate reality game is taking an interesting shape. Within the boundaries of the game, the existence of Superman is recognized, but in a way that a citizen of Metropolis would — by having Superman be a very real super-hero within their “universe”.
The game includes Clawshun Industries, a company hired by Six Flags to build a Superman ride. However, a little bit of investigation on the company’s site informs that Clawshun is actually owned LexCorp, the fictional conglomerate steered by none other than Lex Luthor, Superman’s nemesis.