On August 28, former Oxbridge University Doctor Declan Grey gave a lecture at the Folklore Academics Network Exposition (FAN Expo) discussing his research on animism at God’s Lake in Canada. Professor Declan seemed blissfully unaware that Oxbridge University is a mythical conceit spawned from the mind of 19th century English author William Makepeace Thackeray, and equally ignorant that he was speaking at a different sort of Fan Expo. This appearance marked the launch of Zeros 2 Heroes Media’s alternate reality game, Animism: The Gods’ Lake, placing a digital twist on an upcoming television program slated for release on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. The Fan Expo events lead conference-goers on an augmented reality-fueled trek to unlock clues using QR codes affixed to posters.
Animism provided me with an introduction to the story that was slightly more grounded in the physical world through a package I received in the mail. After reading Tristan Balfour’s article on Dr. Declan Grey’s termination from Oxbridge University, I learned that Grey was dismissed for claiming to have “discovered proof of woodland creatures that were part animal, part human.” An image dated August 20th displays this hybrid monstrosity ripped straight from a Canadian First Nation legend. In the article, witnesses noted that Grey was forcibly removed from Gods’ Lake Falls, where he was conducting his research. Presumably, the authorities did a terrible job securing the chain of evidence, as I also received an evidence bag with three glyphs carved into wood (the flower-shaped glyph has a jagged “W” carved onto its back). These glyphs, along with others, are pictured carved into a tree in the final photograph. A business card provided Declan Grey’s contact information on one side, with a QR code on its reverse.
According to the game’s developers, Animism pairs modern urban fantasy with traditional First Nations mythology, telling the story of what happens when powerful forces are unleashed on the area surrounding Gods’ Lake. The story will be told through live events, mobile technology, the Internet, and traditional broadcast media by a team of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal writers. Matt Toner, President of Zeros 2 Heroes Media, explains that “[t]here is a wealth of untold stories and undiscovered characters with themes that are still relevant today . . . [w]e’re just updating the settings to something more contemporary and understandable for modern audiences.”
Still confused? Fear not, as Zeros 2 Heroes created a “how to” section on TheGodsLake.com with directions on how to play the game, along with a page describing what to expect from alternate reality games. And with weekly recaps of the story, it’s never too late to join in the action.