Fans of Survivor, The Apprentice, and Rock Star: INXS will know the name Mark Burnett. He is one of the most successful television producers in recent times, churning out hit reality series after hit reality series. Now, it seems that Burnett wants to apply his talents to another niche — interactive Web programs.
Burnett has teamed up with AOL to bring the treasure-hunt game show “Gold Rush” to the Internet. Details about the game are sketchy at best, but it will require cryptic puzzles to be solved in real-time. Contestants will be able to have “constant interaction with the show’s central treasure hunt,” according to Burnett, and the prize is nothing to scoff at – $1.6 million in gold will be available in 13 locations across the United States.
While Jon Miller of AOL has stated that, “This is a totally original concept that comes to us from the guy who created reality television,” the concept of an Internet-based treasure hunt game show isn’t completely ‘original’ after all. In July of 2004, the Urban Hunt Alternate Reality Game was launched with a casting call listing at a popular reality TV website. While the Urban Hunt game show was fictional, the premise was basically the same — players would search across the U.S. for a chance of finding a cash prize. (Thanks to konamouse at UnFiction for the information about UH)
It’s exciting to see major players in the entertainment business taking a good, hard look at developing projects with Alternate Reality Gaming elements. In the coming weeks, look for more information about some similar projects that are in the works, including The Runner, a Mark Burnett/LivePlanet (Push, NV) collaboration, The Courier, a CBS ‘micro-series’ and Treasure Hunt, a Steven Spielberg/Yahoo! project.