The puppet masters who brought you Violette’s Dream are hard at work on an ambitious new project guaranteed to take your breath away. Breathe is being billed as a multi-media murder mystery that is a mash-up of film, alternate reality gaming and Web 2.0 media, which allows the story to unfold in both the real and cyber worlds. Headquartered in London, Expanding Universe is quickly making a name for itself in media circles by developing what it calls “immersive and innovative social entertainment”. Breathe shouldn’t leave anyone disappointed.
An official summary from the creators has this to say:
“Set over a four-week period, viewers watch (four 15) minute shorts, and try to help Detective (John) Franks solve the case by working through puzzles, infiltrating the underground club scene, trying to locate the venue, and save the next victim from running out of air. Using blogs, YouTube, GPS, telephone, secret meetings, IM, auditions, immersive role-play, cinema, and music, Breathe stands to be one of the most audacious multi-media experiences to leap from a cinema screen–‘all you have to do is breathe…'”
Player/Participants will first find their way into Breathe’s dark and dangerous world through a traditional ARG investigating a series of horrific nightclub murders. But they will soon find themselves rubbing shoulders with the characters at real life events and maybe becoming part of the story themselves (hopefully not in the role of victim).
Expanding Universe hopes to build different versions of the story in different cities to maximize scale and client base, and nothing creates ARG buzz faster than a real life event. We’ve seen some well orchestrated, large scale efforts in the past, but imagine a nightclub filled with pounding music, pulsing lights, and more than a thousand people taking part in the story. Not just participating, but creating it as well. That is the vision behind Breathe, and if those clever folks at Expanding Universe can pull it off, it might spark a brand new trend in cross-platform entertainment.
Yomi Ayeni, the Creative Director for Expanding Universe, is hard at work outlining and scripting the action, prepping the project for roll-out sometime in 2009 (financing permitting). While the online story will be available to the entire ARG community, only those lucky enough to be in the UK will get to participate in the real life events. But take heart, Ayeni said that at the conclusion of each city’s edition, Expanding Universe could put out complete versions, perhaps on DVD, or online, that could both let everyone see how it played out.