Yesterday, the winners of the 14th Annual Webby Awards were announced, recognizing excellence in “interactive design, creativity, usability and functionality on the Internet.” This year, a trio of alternate reality gaming projects came home with accolades. So congratulations to the teams behind Love Letters to the Future (Xenophile Media), District 9 (Trigger LLC), and True Blood (HBO).
Love Letters to the Future swept the Green category, taking home both the Webby Award and People’s Voice Award for the category. The campaign sought to collect messages from the worldwide community to future generations: the top 100 messages were buried in a time capsule at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen on December 13, 2009. Providing an interactive undercurrent to the already interactive campaign, Xenophile Media hid a series of clues and messages from the future on the website, culminating a series of augmented reality images hidden at locations across the globe. To read more about the alternate reality game designed for Greenpeace International, you can follow along with the game’s progress at the Love Letters to the Future blog.
UPDATE 09/12/2010: Welcome to ARGNet, True Blood fans! The BloodCopy.com website appears to be experiencing server issues due to the finale. If you’re interested in learning more about the viral marketing behind the show, check out our previous coverage, or read about the mysterious package that launched the campaign back in May 2008.
Last year, HBO and Campfire Media created an integrated media campaign to introduce the public to Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire series that included targeted mailings, vials of fake blood, and a fake protest in NYC by the American Vampire League, an organization working to secure equal rights for vampires. HBO summarized the content with a weekly faux-documentary, The Blood Copy Report.
With the season 2 premiere of True Blood scheduled to air June 14th on HBO, vestiges of last year’s viral campaign are beginning to surface. Andrew Kasday, one of the characters behind the website BloodCopy.com, was turned into a vampire, and has “revamped” the site into an expose on human-vampire relations. Andrew has recently hinted that he has a secret reason behind bringing Blood Copy back from the dead.
Building off the success of last year’s Blood Copy Report, many of Andrew’s stories have been picked up by HBO’s vampire news program, The Perspective with Victoria Davis, which is scheduled to run weekly segments until August 18th. While the experience has been relatively passive so far, the decision to air Victoria Davis’ faux-news segment concurrently with True Blood’s air time leaves the possibility for more open.
Image courtesy of Jonathan, via Geekologie.com
With an increasing number of television shows extending their worlds onto the web, it seems worthwhile to start asking for whom the extended experiences are intended. In the case of the online experience for John From Cincinnati, it appears that this is a bonus for people who are already fans of the show. While it seems unlikely to attract any new devotees, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, at least from a player point of view: it’s nice to think that maybe the makers of a show are appreciative enough of their fans to want to play with them outside the confines of the TV set.
In brief, John From Cincinnati is “surf noir” series from the maker of Deadwood, about a brittle family of surfing superstars and a strange young man who appears and turns their lives upside down.
Via Game Tip, ARGNet received word that HBO was doing something interesting with a promo site, johnmonad.com. Clicking repeatedly on the “Help” button generates an increasing number of search terms and objects floating around your screen until you’re told, “That’s all the help you’re going to get. There’s more out there. Start Searching.” However, the interface seems pretty intelligent — entering your own search terms nets results that usually seem on-target. There’s definitely something to put together, here, but I’m not conversant enough in the show’s mythology to have any idea what it is.