Photo credit: James Hamilton
The hunt for a serial killer is nothing new in the world of alternate reality games. However when this experience is backed by a major broadcasting company, it invariably spills out of the computer screen and into the real world. The culprit in this case is the Showtime television series Dexter. The show follows the life of Dexter Morgan, a forensic expert working for Miami PD who is a serial killer himself. In past years, Showtime has led into the new season of Dexter by setting up a Dexter-themed newsstand parodying popular magazines, releasing a personalized faux-news report letting viewers give friends the “Dexter treatment”, turning thirteen fountains across the country red with fake blood (with Philadelphia’s Love Park Fountain pictured above), and airing an animated web series providing a look at some of Dexter’s first kills. This year, an alternate reality game will welcome in the new season of Dexter, which returns September 25th.
As we previously reported at ARGNet, a Dexter-themed SCVNGR mission at Comic-Con led players to a grisly kill room. The players of this experience joined the hunt through their contact, Dee Pratt, a former FBI agent. Her website, SerialHuntress.com, is the first introduction to the now infamous serial killer known as the ‘Infinity Killer.’ Pratt’s interest in the case borders on obsession but that also translates to frequent updates via her YouTube account, SerialHuntress. In a true stroke of genius, she determined that harnessing collective intelligence would be the most effective way of tracking the killer down, and started her venture Justice By All, which also serves as the in-game forum area.
The technologies used for this game range from Facebook and Twitter to international phones that sometimes reveal vital information (but only if you are nice) and require cooperation of the player base to reach certain conclusions by the timelines imposed. The game’s developers have maintained a steady pace that allows everyone to be fully immersed in a cat-and-mouse thrill ride. All in-game characters have responded promptly to player requests, even the character that was supposedly in China, which helps maintain both interest and interaction.
In the latest twist of the plot, players are slowly being placed in an instrumental role in terms of the occurrence of each murder. There are currently four victims: Santos Jimenez (an already paranoid drug dealer from Miami), Joe Wellmont (a retired Colonel from Illinois), Matthiew Clarke (a con-man that was “murdered” during Comic-Con), and Judge Sarah Zeizel (a woman whose husband was briefly a suspect). The game pulls no punches when it comes to the display of evidence pictures, audio and video files, and other material in regards to the killer: for instance, one of the game’s puzzles required identifying a code carved out into the victim’s flesh with a series of cuts. Thus, the experience is geared towards mature audiences and those that are not bothered by liberal doses of fake blood. A safe assumption is that his victims share more commonalities than the initial obvious of losing their lives by the hands of a psychopath yet that connection to this date remains unclear. Based on the dossier the Infinity Killer’s first known victim dates back to 2008, so the most recent murders are nothing new for our resident serial killer.
The Infinity Killer has interacted with the players in a message or chat format sent from his various online appearances but has also allowed everyone insight into his psyche via several videos of his therapy sessions at SleepSuperbly.com under the name F8, where his motivations can perhaps be explored. In his latest exploit, The Infinity Killer has managed to alter the latest video posted by Pratt, demonstrating that he is not only methodical but also very technologically savvy. But this game includes much more than simple internet surfing: the latest clue was in the form of a jacket belonging to the killer that was left at Bodies . . . The Exhibition, in New York. Inside the jacket’s pockets, among other items, was a thumb drive containing further clues.
While it is still early to know if the gameplay will eventually force people to pick sides, the evidence suggests that the serial killer’s motives are not quite black or white. Thus, as in life, the characters’ motivations still lie hidden in the gray area. And that’s where this bloody adventure continues to thrive.