A breath of fresh air swept through the alternate reality gaming community last month when This Is My Milwaukee came to town. The surreal, humorous and down right strange 10-minute promotional video is so dense with story and snippets of clues scattered through-out, that it requires many viewings to fully digest.
As the video explains, Milwaukee was home to a corporation known as Blackstar. Blackstar employed many locals and developed some sort of meta-being known as Go.D.S.E.E.D. With the arrival of Go.D.S.E.E.D came the subsequent destruction of much of Milwaukee’s natural environment. As there was no other option, project Go.D.S.E.E.D had to be destroyed, and so it was put to rest, buried deep below Milwaukee’s Canning District in an emerald casket. However, Go.D.S.E.E.D fragments still attack the locals from time to time. Sheltering one’s self in buildings with proper protection or carrying a flare gun and a rebreather is vital to one’s protection from Go.D.S.E.E.D fragment attacks.
Soon after the ARG was released, the emergence of a possible dead drop became apparent. Hidden at the bottom of TIMM’s website was a link to a YouTube video. When the video title’s long string of numbers was decrypted, it revealed the New York Public Library, Rose Reading Room, South Hall. At the end of the video was the call number AI3.A23. An Unfiction forum member went to the NYPL and successfully found the book referenced in the video, which revealed a sheet of paper with a picture of a fennel bulb and a new phone number.
Another dead drop was discovered in a cafÃ© in San Francisco when an in-game character, Chuck Jagoda, used Twitter to send dozens of cryptic posts alluding to something left in the Gratitude CafÃ©. A few players attempted to look for the drop but came up with nothing. Then, a new player, apparently urged by a friend, posted on the Unfiction forums stating they found something weird in Gratitude CafÃ©. Whether the poster was genuine or whether they were the PM’s covering for a drop-gone-wrong we’ll never know. But despite this, Chuck Jagoda’s cryptic Twitter posts were a fantastic way to reveal a dead drop.
What’s so refreshing about TIMM is the ingenious ways that clues and narrative are released. We’ve all seen GPS coordinates, bits of maps and hidden emails or files used in ARGs before. But what the PM’s behind TIMM have done is brought a renewed sense of originality into the game-play and wrapped it up in a fantastically dense and engaging alternate world.
With a possible third drop on the way in NYC’s Central Park, players are eagerly waiting for January 16, 2009 when the countdown timer on TIMM’s website reaches zero. Stay tuned!