Lo and behold, a strange website has been spotted! The site, Landalan.org, popped up on Digg.com, where it was described, in the space of two sentences, as “odd,” “strange,” and “weird.” Sound ARGy? You betcha.
The site has since offered up a mesh of exciting and varied puzzles, although it has provided only sparse hints by way of storyline. Here’s what we do know: the game seems to be centered around a plot to destroy the internet (no!). Also, somebody is trapped somewhere, and it all has to do with the United Nations and long-dead Tunisian sultans. References to the web abound – one puzzle focuses on internet service providers – and it’s all delightfully geeky, so if you enjoy that sort of thing, you might want to go peek in on this one. The Unfiction discussion thread is located hereabouts.
An official web-based scavenger hunt has sprung up for fans of the Mission Impossible series. To celebrate the release of the upcoming third movie, Paramount Pictures has launched a campaign in which players become “agents” who solve a series of missions by seeking out clues hidden across the internet.
The first mission, released this week, led players to a hidden clue in the movie’s Super Bowl ad. A new mission will be revealed each Monday at 5pm PST, leading up to the movie release on May 5th. The clues point to solutions embedded in various partner sites, and yield keywords that hint at aspects of the movie’s plot.
The game is competitive, as players earn points based mainly on how many missions they complete and how speedily they do so. The ultimate super grand prize is a paid trip to the US movie premiere, but a multitude of other prizes will also be given away. The first 15,000 agents who complete the entire game will get a “special prize.” Mysterious.
For this particular movie, a web-based interactive campaign seems natural. The director, J.J. Abrams, is the creator of the television show Lost, which offers ARG-like webpages that expand on the show’s universe.
Players have reported some problems with the game thus far, including difficulties logging in and submitting the completed mission. Technical difficulties also resulted in the first mission launching a day late. Hopefully the game developers will fix the issues for a smoother run in subsequent weeks.
Discussion at Unfiction
The saga of Michael Adams began when our hero sent some out-of-the-blue e-mails to various ARG players. Michael, who seems to have an intimate relationship with paranoia, had encrypted the message with Morse code, Vigenere, and base64. (All of that, just to essentially say, “Urgent! I need your help!”) A more recent communication was encrypted nine times over — It’s a good thing that there are so many online decoders out there.
Michael, it turns out, needs our help! (Although perhaps not as urgently as it first appeared.) His exact predicament is still a bit fuzzy, but we know that it involves a Prophecy, a Brotherhood, some Secrets, and an Item. Not to mention a Hero (apparently none other than our friend Michael) and a Traitor. Oh, and a Date and a Location. And some Capitalization.
Information (chock full of encryption goodness!) has been relayed to players via e-mail, text messages, instant messenger, and Michael’s Livejournal (in which old entries tend to get removed, so don’t despair if it looks empty). If you like messing around with online decoders, why not join in the Fun?
Editor’s Note: A recent development has been discovered from an email from one of the game characters. Apparently, there will be a live event for this game somewhere in the state of North Carolina in the United States, at some time tomorrow. We will continue to update this article if more concrete information becomes available.
Editor’s Note #2: The game came to a disappointing end before any sort of real world interaction was to take place. For more details on the first ARG casualty of 2006, see this post at UnFiction.
Travel back with me to the early days of November, when the air was crisp, the leaves were turning, and Adrian Hon (of Mind Candy and Perplex City fame) was giving a talk about ARGs at the Montreal International Game Summit. Bursting with optimistic joy, I set out early that morning, got hopelessly lost, wandered around in befuddlement for an hour, concluded that the address I was looking for didn’t actually exist, and eventually was directed to the right location, at which point the ARG gods decided that they’d mocked me enough for one day, because I arrived just in time to catch the beginning of Adrian’s presentation.
“Through the Rabbit Hole: The History and Potential of Alternate Reality Gaming”
The long–awaited Orbital Colony took off last week with a stealthy launch during ARGFest NYC. Attendees of the convention found, within their welcome envelopes, a rather bizarre credit card advertisement that promised to send their credit “into outer space!”
The embedded puzzle (what? of course there was an embedded puzzle!) led players to the Orbicon Corporation, a company dedicated to the noble task of building a space elevator and bringing humanity to the stars. They’re holding a “Name that Rock!” contest, so if you want to get involved, why not enter? There might even be a few rock puns that haven’t yet been made.
Initially envisioned as a training ground for new PMs, Orbital Colony appears to have grown into a full-fledged ARG sometime during its two years of development. The project’s meta page has more information on its unusual history.
Discussion at Unfiction
Chat (irc) in #orbital
The video game industry is at it again, with an ARG-like immersive advertising campaign for the newly-released Cold Winter. Players came across freesterling.com, which contained pleas for help from a man named Robert Sterling.
Robert had reason to believe that his brother Andrew was a British spy who had been kidnapped by Chinese agents, but he couldn’t get the British government to help or even admit to any knowledge of the situation. Quite a mess for the anxious Robert, who had gotten his hands on videos of Andrew being kidnapped and then interrogated.
He asked readers to sign a petition to get help for Andrew. The website has since come clean about its real purpose, but it still hosts the videos and a message from Robert. Andrew the spy is the main character of Cold Winter, which begins with him having to escape Chinese captivity.
The campaign was run by Making Waves, which styles itself as a “youth marketing agency” that uses “experience” as its advertising medium.