Earlier today, I received a package containing a message in a bottle from Aguatero Industries. The company was so excited to announce its expansion into the Las Vegas and Los Angeles markets, it sent me a message secreted inside their newer, more eco-friendly bottle design. On the inside of the bottle cap, I could faintly make out the letters “WP.ME /PURU9-2” written in pen, with the number 998 embossed beneath that.

Sadly, in order to reach the message in the bottle, I had to cut the water bottle apart. Once inside, I unfolded the press release, revealing the following message describing Aguatero Industries’ involvement in worldwide urban water system operation, and announcing its plans for expansion. According to the company’s website, its expansion into Las Vegas and Los Angeles is only part of a larger rollout of services. The press release was dated in the near future, on June 10, 2010.

The company has a social media presence with its twitter account. Refreshingly (pun entirely intended), no one seems to be in physical danger. However, typing in the shortened url on the bottle cap leads to the Our Water Planet blog, which suggests the empty bottle I received represents something more insidious: “It represents something far too many people experience: a lack of water.”  The blog is run by Connor Arter, who maintains a twitter account for the site.

All the signs seem to indicate that this is the launch of a new serious game addressing water scarcity and resource management issues: the Our Water Planet blog even includes a donation link to Charity: Water. Charity: Water is near and dear to to the hearts of alternate reality game fans, as players of Levi’s Go Forth treasure hunt selected the charity to receive a $100,000 donation from Levi’s at the game’s conclusion.

Was this message in a bottle simply a press release, or was it an SOS to the world?

Click Here for the discussion at Unfiction.