Six to Start and the BBC have teamed up to create a transmedia experience tied in with BBC Two documentary The Code, expected to air at the end of July.The Code is presented by Professor of Mathematics Marcus du Sautoy (Horizon on BBC2, The Beauty of Diagrams on BBC4) and explores how the world around us conforms to and can be explained by mathematical codes. Six to Start are next-generation storytellers with plenty of experience creating storytelling projects for different clients, often in the form of alternate reality games or treasure hunts. They’ve worked with the BBC before on projects like Spooks: Code 9 and Seven Ages Quest. As a first for the BBC and possibly a world first, an interactive experience called The Code Challenge has been seamlessly integrated in the writing and filming of The Code since inception. Viewers can participate in an engaging treasure hunt which will take place before, during, and after the series that will extend their understanding of basic mathematical principles.
The Code Challenge begins well before the airing of the actual show. Soon, 1000 people in the UK will receive a secret message with one of the first puzzles of the challenge. For a chance to be one of those 1000, keep an eye on Twitter @bbccode and apply via Twitter or e-mail. A few weeks before the show airs, several Flash games containing clues, puzzles, and more information about the Code will also appear online. The series itself is expected to air at the end of July and will be split into three 60-minute episodes: Magic Numbers, Nature’s Building Blocks and Predicting the Future. Six clues are connected to each episode. Three will be hidden in the programme itself, which can be watched live on BBC Two or on BBC iPlayer. One community clue can only be solved by working together with a group of players. Two further clues will be revealed on the blog and through a Flash game. Players can then enter the six answers they found for each episode into the ‘codebreaker’ to receive three passwords with which they can unlock the ultimate challenge.
The race is on to find the final emerald-studded number from the treasure hunt children’s book, Clock Without a Face. Over the past seven months, treasure seekers have found eleven of the twelve numbers buried at highway rest areas across the United States. And the final hidden number, the twelve, is rumored to be more valuable than all the other numbers combined.
Each of the numbers was once a part of a priceless (and rumored cursed) clock named the Emerald Khroniker. According to legend, the clock was built by a pirate named Friendly Jerome. The greedy pirate looted twelve different cities in twelve different countries, and stripped a jeweled number from each city’s grandest clock for the Emerald Khroniker. The most valuable number, the twelve, is thought to have been stolen from the tomb of an Egyptian king. It wasn’t long before thieves stole this valuable clock from Friendly Jerome. The clock was then stolen again and again, until it ended up in the hands of its most recent owner, Bevel Ternky. The Emerald Khroniker was not stolen from Ternky; instead thieves ingeniously pried off the numbers and buried each one in a separate location.
Within a month of the book’s release, treasure hunters deciphered the clues that led them to eight of the numbers in eight different states – Florida, Washington, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Connecticut and California. Since then, three more have been found, but the number twelve is still buried in the ground somewhere, waiting to be found.
On May 25th, I found one of the numbers myself, an emerald-studded silver beauty. I had read the book several times with my daughter, but the puzzle-cracking grind was a bit too much for a seven-year-old. She cheered me on and hoped that I would find her lucky number seven. With help from a group of Unfiction treasure hunters, I pinpointed the location of the number seven to just 30 miles from my home in Indiana.
In July, several trailers, media appearances, and hilarious press releases built up interest for the series until it began in earnest on August 1st. Over the course of the episodes, the crew retraced their steps through New York City to try and remember where they misplaced the treasure chest. Starting off easily enough with Episode 1, the clues clearly led treasure-seekers away from Central Park.
However, as We Lost Our Gold progressed, the clues became more numerous and more difficult and also rife with red herrings—usually tributes to filmmakers. The episodes parodied different genres and popular shows, such as The Larry King Show, where it was revealed that the pirates had stolen the money from Glove & Boots, a web series-making puppet duo consisting of Fafa the Groundhog and his friend Mario.
TheWe Lost Our Gold treasure hunt has begun in earnest with the first episode of the weekly web series released today. As ARGNet reported last month, these absent-minded pirates buried their treasure of ten thousand gold-colored US dollar coins somewhere in New York City but can’t remember where they hid it. This eight-part web series will contain clues to the location of the pirate’s chest, and whoever finds it, keeps it.
Episode One introduces some vital information about the possible location of the chest, as the crew tries to retrace their steps through New York, beginning with the Balto Statue in Central Park, then on to locations like “Cape Shakespeare” and “Columbus Rock.” Meanwhile, the pirate-and-ninja crew struggles to find a way to prevent spies from learning too much by using codes, including “Morris” code and Japanese numbers. A series of interrupted flashbacks provide key background information about the crew and its unlikely journey through the Big Apple. The episodes to come will continue to piece together the crew’s journey through New York City, presumably ending with the final location of the pirate booty.
A poor, adorable pirate-and-ninja crew have misplaced their pirate booty somewhere in the five boroughs of New York City, and if you can find it, you might walk away with a chest filled with 10,000 gold-colored dollar coins. We Lost Our Gold is an eight-part web series that will contain clues to the location of the loot. To prevent complete chaos in the city, the organizers have asked that people not dig randomly, and instead watch the videos for clues because the spot will be marked. The We Lost Our Gold website itself will be the “treasure map” as the hunt begins in earnest on August 1.
Who has 10,000 dollars to drop somewhere in New York? The creators of We Lost Our Gold are keeping this kind of out-of-game information very close to the chest, and very little can be found about them despite mainstream coverage of the project on the Huffington Post. The pirates themselves have issued what might very well be the best press release ever written.
We Lost Our Gold will be a true, modern-day treasure hunt: according to the creators, “We’ve always wanted to experience the excitement of searching for pirate treasure, so we decided to give that feeling to everyone else.” That the pirates (and ninja) have made an appearance on a Times Square billboard suggests some serious resources, and at least one social media blogger has suggested that We Lost Our Gold might be a promotion for New York City tourism.
Although We Lost Our Gold doesn’t start until next month, two trailers have been released, with another trailer scheduled for July 18. The three pirates and ninja can be reached over email, and two of them, the Captain and first mate Mulligan, have active Twitter accounts. The Captain is sharing his piratical wisdom in a series of useful “pirate tips,” and Mulligan has learned to navigate the city by subway. We Lost Our Gold also has a Facebook fan page for updates, and there’s some speculating over at the Unfiction forums.
While waiting for the madness to begin, I decided to email the Captain a few innocent questions. The Captain wasn’t too thrilled about it, but still I got quite the response, edited below as an interview for ease of reading. Continue reading
“I got it Robbie! I got it,” My mother screamed into my ear. As she excitedly described her prize, my cell phone let out a monotone cry and the line went dead. Next came a knock on my cubicle wall. Looking up, I saw my boss standing in the doorway.
“Robbie, can I speak with you for a second?”
“Sure thing,” I said, stuffing my phone into my pocket, hanging up on my mother as she was calling back, “No problem.”
My mom loves scavenger hunts. There always seemed to be a particular thrill in it for her–the chase, the race against time, the competitive nature of the event. Although she has always loved hunts, mom has always had one problem: her inability to win. Despite years of playing, she had never walked away as the victor, carrying the spoils of war in her triumphant hands.
Perhaps you now understand my hesitation to call her when I learned of Project Abraham‘s last hurrah. As 42 Entertainment wrapped up their immersive viral campaign for the Resistance 2 video game release, they had planned the ultimate ARG event–the coveted Dead Drop. All around the nation twenty satchels were hidden, their coordinates released over a five-day period to anxious players who then scrambled to be the first to reach them.