Transformers fans are all atwitter about some mysterious goings-on in the trailer for the live-action Transformers movie, set to come out in July 2007. At a certain moment early in the trailer, the words “Sector Seven Org” and “takara83” appear at the top and bottom of the frame, respectively, leading the curious to www.sectorseven.org. Entering “takara83” in the submit box opens up a very stylish desktop, with a few goodies, including a live-action video and some image files. Also oddly present, a facsimile of a (fake?) legal agreement between “S7 Industries” and Takara, which is the real-life Japanese company that developed Transformers. Many of the desktop icons are locked, leading hopeful fans to believe that more is coming.
Is this a Transformers ARG? In my opinion, it’s too soon to tell, as right now it looks just like a standard movie viral site. But those Decepticons can be tricky creatures.
More details and discussion are at Unfiction.
It was a sunny day – the kind of day that springs forth from the drudgery of winter to blind you with its brilliant sunshine and pleasant breezes, imprinting itself onto your memory. The air was filled with the smells of cherry and tulip blossoms and the slight overtone of a diesel-fueled truck, while the thumping of nearby construction pounded out the rhythm of a downtown rave party, minus the fancy lights, drugs and half-naked dancing people thrumming against your leg.
I had decided to leave the lab early. The spring day called out to me, “Jackie! Leave the window-less torture of a lab you’re sitting in! Drop the data analysis and run and frolic in my splendor!” Not being one to ignore calls of nature in the off chance that I might end up with wet pants, I grabbed my things and snuck out. My sandaled feet skipped along the sidewalk, my toes happy to be wriggling in the air of spring and reveling in the vitamin D of the sun. As I waited to cross the street outside of the University of Maryland Medical Center, I felt someone sneak up behind me.
Well, those of us who have been around ARGs recognized this at once as another of BMW’s viral marketing campaigns, following their successful Uncap the Ride campaign of 2003. The videos on the site are pretty fun to watch, and the book excerpt is very well done. While it’s not an ARG, it’s another fine example of viral marketing done right. Even the New York Times has taken notice.
Two major ARG events finished up over the last week or so. The 6 level hardcore puzzle competition JMX was finally solved. JMX spanned months and provided countless hours of fun and frustration for the players. A final chatlog can be found here.
In addition, the time-travel ARG Acheron came to a conclusion this last week. If you played or were following, you may be interested in the PM post-game chat log, a copy of which is posted here. Acheron was plagued by many behind-the-scenes challenges, but the PM team withstood everything that was thrown their way, plugging on to give their players a great ARG experience.
From the rumor mill comes a pointer to two sites: www.beta-7.com and www.gamerchuck.com. We haven’t been able to check into these at all yet, but wanted to pass the info along. If anyone can make any sense of these sites, let us know.
Also, word comes to us that Aware is slated for a mid-summer launch and a spring pre-game. Folks are also keeping an eye on www.lacunainc.com, which is connected to the upcoming movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Nothing conclusive there yet at all, but who knows?
The ARGN staff had a great winter break, but now it’s time to get back to business. A lot has happened in the past few months, so let’s get up to speed, shall we?
Acheron has been progressing. The time-travel related ARG has a very nice Guide up and kept current, so be sure to check things out.
A Matrix-related game caused a buzz and ran for 8 weeks beginning on October 1st of last year. As we were part of the development team, we just didn’t feel right about shilling it here, but hey, now that it’s over I guess it’s okay. Codenamed Project MU, this ARG was a fan-fictionesque game taking place in the Matrix universe, but not directly involving any actual characters from the movie. The trailhead was at MetaCortex, the company that Neo worked for as Thomas Anderson at the beginning of the first movie.
According to The Guardian, this was “the most successful ARG ever, with around 12,000 players and visits
logged from 118 different countries.” Admittedly, not all of these players were actively involved throughout the run, but the response definitely exceeded expectations.
Project MU employed many of the classic ARG techniques of blurring reality with the game world, utilizing emails, IM’s with ingame characters and even a Halloween night phone call that went out to almost 1,000 players.
From our viewpoint now looking back, Project MU really set a precedent for a new form of fan-fiction. While not endorsed by the film’s producers, they had no problem with it whatsoever as long as it wasn’t connected with a commercial enterprise and didn’t “degrade their intellectual property.” In case you missed it, you can find discussion and links to all of the pertinent sites at Unfiction.
In other news, Hidden Alliance has been showing signs of………. something. Hidden Alliance is an ARG that has, as far as we know, been in development since 2002. We’re not quite sure what, if anything, is going on, but the situation is being monitored at Unfiction.
In addition, there have been quite a few instances of possible ARGs that have so far become dead ends. It was thought something was afoot that was related to the Stephen King Dark Tower series of novels, but it turned out to apparently be a small fan-based site. Other possibities that went nowhere over the past few months included Paycheck, RYT Hospital, IRobotNow, Lacuna Inc., Hunt for Riddick, a Harry Potter site, and even a Doom site.
So, currently, Acheron’s you’re best bet as far as live games go, but you could always wait a few weeks……
An interesting article in Wired on May 7th tells of an interesting blog (aflightrisk) by Isabella V, a supposed heiress on the run from her family. “On March 2, 2003, at 4:12 p.m., I disappeared,” the journal starts. “My name is Isabella V. I’m twenty-something, and I am an international fugitive.”
Discussion as to whether this is all a hoax is approaching a fever pitch. There are many blogs and boards discussing this whole thing, and even Isabella herself has posted in various places outside of her blog to plead her case. Most of the current speculation and discussion can be found in the comments at the flightrisk blog, and at The Agonist.
So, is flightrisk an ARG? A Hoax? A viral marketing campaign for a novel? It is interesting that the Wired article mentions The Beast, so it really makes one wonder. ARG or not, Isabella seems to be screaming “This is not a game!”