While it often goes unremarked here at ARGNet, Germany has a thriving community dedicated to alternate reality games. Leading the charge in the German-speaking world, vm-people created a landing page to welcome German-speaking players to the world of alternate reality games at Folge dem Kaninchen (Follow the Rabbit). Over the years, vm-people have successfully deployed a mumber of highly immersive alternate reality games including The Final Mill and Join the Pirates. More recently, the company has specialized in games exploring how to bring alternate reality games into the publishing space. Two years ago, the company sent two American players of Push11 to join the game’s German player base for a live event promoting Sebastian Fitzek’s thriller, Therapy. vm-people worked with Zoe Beck to create 66 Letters, a literary puzzle that extended past her novel, Das alte Kind, released last year. Now, the tradition continues with an alternate reality game set around Max Landorff’s new thriller, Der Regler.
I received a package in the mail this weekend bearing vm-people’s “Folge-Dem-Kaninchen” stamp. Inside was a plastic bag labeled “4/15/2011” holding a microSD card. After loading the card into my phone, I was able to watch a video dated 4/10/2011 showing members of a gang gunning down the owner of a mysterious briefcase. At his blog, Alex Vladi translated the Japanese conversation into German and revealed the mailing’s connection with Wer Ist Der Regler.
Several German ARG players, along with two Americans, myself included, were sent vintage cassette tapes made in “Western-Germany.” On the cassette, a man plays a Mozart sonata on the piano but is interrupted by the phone. Irritated, in English the man tells “Sally” to answer the phone then continues to play. We find that he has an audience — a small child. Switching to German, the man tells the child that he is going away. Click here to listen to the recorded message in its entirety.
As reported previously, 66 Letters is a literary puzzle where participants collaborate to investigate a cold case — the latest from viral marketing experts vm-people to promote a just-released book from German publisher Bastei Lübbe.
In the past few weeks, German players have received nearly a dozen handwritten letters, clues of an ongoing correspondence between “C” and “Ella” in 1980. Their relationship, their shared history, and their personal lives are slowly being revealed through these letters, but it seems that C’s daughter has gone missing, and C writes to Ella from a mental institution. The letters between C and Ella go through intermediaries, including Sally, the person possibly mentioned in the cassette tape. Players were also sent a short guide to handwriting analysis so they can speculate on the emotional states and personalities of the letter writers.
An online literary puzzle, 66 Letters, is a psychothriller alternate reality game opening in May. Players will collaborate and test their detective skills to investigate a cold case, and clues will offer a preview for a new book that will soon be published by German publisher Bastei Lubbei.
66 Letters is the latest project of viral marketing experts, vm-people, whose most recent project was Die Zeit wird knapp [Time Is Running Out], promoting Rachel Ward’s book Numbers. Vm-people is also behind the German-based Pirate Society as well as Charlotte Is Becoming Real, which brought two American players to Germany for its grand finale.
Currently, visitors to the 66 Letters homepage are rerouted to the Folge dem Kaninchen [Follow the Rabbit] website, where they can register for updates for this game and for other projects from vm-people. All this activity has been well-met by the vibrant and active German ARG community, which has gelled around the German-language news blog ARG-Reporter and meets socially every month in Berlin. In the future, the Folge dem Kaninchen website will open up for a more international audience, but for now, the site is only in German.