On April 16, 2007, mysterious packages began finding their way into the hands of unsuspecting people about to be lured into a world of dreamscapes, nightmares, madness, and death. The contents of the packages led to a network of dreamers, reaching out for help to dwellers in the mundane world. The Dreamers found willing listeners and clever helpers in several internet communities. Together, these Good Samaritans became Sentries; became Providence; watched helplessly as several friends left them, one by one; embarked on a journey together to find answers; and then waited together in the darkness when, at the last, all contact with their friends was lost as the signal faded out nine weeks ago.
The Eldritch Errors ARG, produced by GMD Studios, gathered a strong following of players from its launch in 2007 into its third “book” in 2008. In February, at what was supposed to be the climax of the game’s third installment in February, the game’s momentum faltered. The day for the promised climax passed in silence. After realizing that the game was on hold indefinitely for reasons unknown, frustrated players created a space for venting and even “uncovered” an obituary for one of the game’s characters, in hopes of eliciting some comment from GMD.
On Monday, April 14, two days before the game’s one-year anniversary, a person using the alias of Mr. Cricket visited the GMD Studios offices, leaving a drawing of a cricket taped to the door. On Tuesday, Mr. Cricket visited again, this time leaving a dog collar – with the nametag of “Providence” – hanging from GMD’s doorknob. On Wednesday, the game’s anniversary, Mr. Cricket returned a third time to draw a familiar mark in colored chalks upon GMD’s doorstep.
While it’s unclear whether Mr. Cricket’s gifts, the game’s anniversary or other factors helped bring about a break in the nine-week silence, Brian Clark of GMD Studios posted a penitent entry to the Schmeldritch blog on Wednesday morning. He writes, “When clients ask me why I’m wearing a dog collar with a tag labeled ‘Providence,’ I’ll explain to them that some really important people wanted to remind me that my clients are taking me away from what I’m supposed to be doing.” He seems to take the activities of Mr. Cricket in good humor, claiming they “barely felt like stalking at all!” At the end of the blog, he hints at a revival of the game and also pudding.
GMD Studios’ latest blog entry on the company website sheds some light on the project that whisked the GMD team away from their Lovecraftian creation and out to Detroit, where they have been working with Ford Motor Company to help design part of Ford’s new marketing initiative, Drive One. Ford’s latest marketing campaign presents a series of webisodes that aim to give viewers multifaceted insight into the company’s design, engineering, and manufacturing processes. The Wall Street Journal reports that Drive One “includes online and viral elements as well as television and print advertising.” Viral elements, hmmm.
So, now that the mysterious doings in Detroit are wrapped up and no longer shrouded in secrecy, will Eldritch Errors rise from its grave and carry on its series of engaging stories? Players remain watchful, ever ready to provide their PuppetMasters with loving prods of encouragement. Rumor has it that Mr. Cricket will be keeping an especially close eye on GMD’s activities in the meantime.