Emma Wilson’s journal, on digdecoded.com
The premiere of Dig, Tim Kring and Gideon Raff’s newest thriller on USA Network, DIG, is only two weeks away. But in many ways, the 10-episode series remains an enigma. In DIG, FBI agent Peter Connely (played by Harry Potter veteran Jason Isaacs) is stationed in Jerusalem, and finds himself tangled in a 2,000 year old conspiracy while digging into the murder of a young American. Beyond that, there are only tantalyzing trailers hinting at something hidden in the Promised Land to whet the appetite. Fans will just have to wait and see where the producers of Heroes and Homeland will be going with the mystery…unless, of course, the answer can be found buried deep within the show’s alternate reality game, DIG Decoded.
The DIG promotional engine has been revving up for a while now, with an official prequel novella posted to Wattpad that introduced the curious to Connely’s previous case for the FBI, tracking down the cyber-criminal known only as “Akula” for the theft of $25 million from the US Treasury across the streets of Jerusalem. The tale introduces Connely to the reader, along with Jerusalem’s FBI office head Lynn Monahan (played by Anne Heche) and Israeli detective Golan Cohen (played by Ori Pfeffer). USA Network announced a series of room escape games that will provide further insight into the world of DIG, with free puzzle adventures going live in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Hollywood, and Orlando starting February 26.
Many of the transmedia storytelling elements for DIG are scheduled to build up hype for the show’s March 5 launch, but the DIG Decoded alternate reality game that launched on February 19 is set to run in parallel with the show, with weekly installments adding to the narrative through the show’s May finale. While DIG‘s Wattpad story introduced fans to the show’s major players from law enforcement, the DIG Decoded alternate reality game prominently features the show’s archaeological cast. The story begins through the lens of a journal compiled by archaeologist Emma Wilson (played by A Fine Frenzy’s Alison Sudol), whose story drives the initial narrative. In the introductory chapter of the ARG, a series of photographs, news clippings, text messages, journal articles and videos follow Wilson from her fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania to participate in a dig at the Temple Mount, one of Jerusalem’s holiest locations.
The introductory mission serves as a tutorial for basic puzzle-solving skills, with the solution to the first puzzle leading to a website that serves as a primer for other common ciphers scattered throughout the introduction. The primary puzzle-solving path is fairly obvious and clearly labeled with prominent call-outs explaining how to interact with each artifact.
These relatively straightforward iconography that dominates the primary puzzle path distracts from an underlying current of puzzles that serve to unlock additional secrets and even a few red herrings that are peppered throughout the experience for those who take the show’s entreaty to “dig deeper” to heart.
Combing through the journal entries and videos lead to an introduction to Jewish history for those unfamiliar with the events after the Torah, from the days of Solomon to the fall of the Hasmonean dynasty and the Bar Kokhba rebellion. So far, the ARG seems to balance puzzle and narrative deftly, allowing the single-player experience to unfold with relative ease. New sections of DIG Decoded are set to unlock every Thursday from now until the final installment on May 7. Successfully completing the puzzles each week unlocks sweepstakes entries for the winner’s choice of a vacation for four to Israel, Croatia, or Norway.
DIG‘s basic framework is highly reminiscent of 42 Entertainment’s alternate reality game Legends of Alcatraz, which kicked off with a puzzle-solving challenge inside Alcatraz Prison, with an online narrative unfolding through weekly online puzzle challenges that ran parallel with the show, with major character arcs mirrored in the game. This model gave the show’s fans additional ways to engage with the show in between the weekly television episodes, a tactic Kring openly embraced with the sweeping expanse of the Heroes transmedia universe.
To dive headfirst into DIG‘s alternate reality game, check out DigDecoded.com. You can find the show’s prequel novella on Wattpad, and sign up for one of the escape the room challenges at DigEscapetheRoom.com as long as tickets remain available.