danathumb.jpgWhat began as a mysterious Fedex package of honey, has become one of the most intriguing and highly anticipated (for some) events on the ‘net in quite a while. At first, when ARGN received the honey (filled with letters that spelled I LOVE BEES, leading to ilovebees.com) a little over a week ago, we thought it was a new grassroots ARG starting up, but when it was discovered that the ilovebees.com address made an appearance in the recent Halo 2 trailer, we realized this may be much bigger than originally anticipated.

We were right. Since the trailer hit the web on Friday, the entire cyberscape is abuzz, trying to figure out what’s going on. The story has been picked up on computer gaming sites such as IGN, GameSpot, and even Slashdot. Thousands of posts on innumerable boards are clamoring to figure out what is going on.

What is confounding some is exciting others who recognize this as a new Alternate Reality Game. Those in the know are even proclaiming this to be the followup to the ARG that started it all: The Beast, which was a promotional game for Spielberg’s film A.I. back in 2001. The Beast spawned Cloudmakers, an online smart mob of over 7000 who rabidly followed, solved, and obsessed over who killed Evan Chan. The Beast was a viral promotion like no other, and was an amazing event for those who were involved.

So, what is going on here with ilovebees.com? How does it relate to the Halo 2 universe?? Well, ilovebees.com is an amateurish website for Margaret’s Honey that’s being hacked by someone…..or something. Margaret’s niece, Dana, is the webmaster, and the site points to her blog, where she is asking for help dealing with the virus or whatever it is that is screwing up her aunt’s site. Players have emailed her, and Dana has actually replied to some players personally, thanking them for their advice. Upon closer examination, it was discovered that the various images on the site were corrupted with text phrases, which when assembled correctly formed a rather bizarre narrative about a Queen and a Widow.

On July 27th, one of the mysterious countdowns on the site expired, resulting in an update with more hacking goodness, and scaring the crap out of Dana. It seems whatever is taking over her aunt’s site is now actually threatening her.

So, what does Halo 2 have to do with all of this? Well, a great Story So Far explains things pretty well, even though it is a lot of speculation at this point. [EDIT: The Guide is also a great place to start, as it’s a chronological narrative of what’s been going on, and is kept very up to date.]

The ARG community has done an absolutely amazing job so far, organizing information and using tools that were unavailable just a few years ago to create an information and dissemination system the likes of which have never been seen before. If they’re right, this is just the beginning of what is sure to be an amazing ride. Stay tuned.

Here are some links to get you on your way:

I Love Bees Guide
I Love Bees Wiki Guide
I Love Bees Trail
Bee Quicklinks
Moderated Blog

Here are some forums discussing I Love Bees:

IRC Chat: