heistfinale.jpgPlayers of Audi’s Art of the H3ist (as it’s now presenting itself) are preparing for what looks to be the culmination of the three month-long alternate reality game. Many players are converging on an event scheduled for this Wednesday, June 29th, to witness what goes down.

The Art of The H3ist unfolded in real time over the course of the last three months, its players experiencing a quality story of theft, love and betrayal through many diverse media: Print ads, billboards, television commercials, radio spots, Web Sites, live events, e-mails, videos, IRC chats, voice transcripts, machinima, puzzles, photos, scanned documents, and more.

Since events of H3ist unfolded in real time, the participants were not only able to watch what happened, but were also able to influence events (or at least were given the illusion of doing so) through their direct participation in live “retrieval missions” that were often webcast in real time, one of which I was lucky enough to be a part of.

It’s apparent that an important aspect of the game design was enabling wide accessibility to the mainstream, so they could enjoy and understand the idea of the story no matter how closely they followed the characters. This was accomplished by mostly by the site www.stolena3.com, which functioned well as a “story so far” resource, enabling new players to get up to speed (no pun intended) quickly. Interestingly, H3ist did something new by developing a number of commercial partnerships, which diversified things quite a bit and helped the overall realism of the game, including Apple, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Palm, E3, Coachella, URB magazine, VH1, AFI and Bose.

H3ist did a lot to further mainstream recognition and interest in Alternate Reality Games, with news buzz happening all over the country, and even overseas. ARGN alone had dozens of press inquiries about the game over the last three months, which indicates how strong this interest was.

We’ll be sorry to see H3ist come to an end. It was a great ride, and major props go out to the folks behind it: Mike Monello (of Blair Witch fame), Brian Clarke, Dave Szulborski, to name but a few. We’ll be looking forward to their next endeavor.

Keep watching ARGN for firsthand reports of the finale on Wednesday.