** Editor’s Note: The original publication of this article had an incorrect hyperlink to The Hanso Foundation web site. The link has been corrected and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
It’s been a little over a week since the launch of The Lost Experience, a launch in the form of prominent television advertisements for The Hanso Foundation. Since the first commercial spot reached television sets across the globe, the trailhead site has undergone a few plot-advancing changes, and two new sites (Gary Troup’s site and subLYMONal) have been connected to the game. As well, an official insider’s blog has popped up on the ABC Television web space. So far, the game has performed well, and updates to the Hanso site give players the sense that the game is something they should be watching every day. This is one Alternate Reality Game a lot of people have been waiting for, and it has opened the door to ARGs for an entirely new audience.
The game has become very popular in a relatively short amount of time, mostly because of the exposure it has been given. However, finding the site and calling the Hanso company hotline are only the first steps into the game, and so the game designers have had to focus on how to keep the player base interested enough to keep coming back. Their answer? Make the Experience easily accessible, but with enough content to satisfy even the most voracious fan. So far, so good — the sites are fairly easy to digest but offer underlying layers of complex material giving the die-hard fanatics material to theorize about. By feeding the plot elements to the masses bit by bit, the information is hardly overwhelming, even to the casual watcher. In the end, regardless of a player’s commitment level, the game delivers a rich, interwoven back-story that is starting to answer some of the questions about the show.
Back in February, glimmers of an upcoming interactive media experience were hinted at by Javier Grillo-Marxauch, a writer for the worldwide hit television show Lost, who said, "I assure you, there will be a lot of official Lost-sanctioned internet action coming up." Ears perked up from all around the ARG community, where speculation about some of the official and unofficial sites springing up around the internet ran rampant.
Then in early April, the Official Lost Podcast echoed the earlier statement, with writers David Lindelof and Carlton Cuse stating, "We're involved in a project which is going to involve the internet that's going to start in May."
Today, ABC has officially announced that The Lost Experience will take place this summer. According to the AP article, "What is known about the challenge is that it includes the introduction of new characters and the mysterious Hanso Foundation. The first clue requires finding a toll-free number that will be released during the show or commercial breaks." There will be different clues depending on the viewers' geographical locations, including the UK, the USA, and Australia.
The Lost Experience is scheduled to kick off in early May during an episode of Lost. Stay alert!
Players of the Omnifam ARG found themselves at the end of the road today with the addition of a credits page on one of the in-game websites. The grassroots endeavor had been playing since May of this year, and was tied to the US television series ALIAS. Scanning through the list, it shows that the team of Puppetmasters includes people who have been on the other side of the curtain for previous ARGs, such as Acheron and ARGTalk.
ALIAS-themed ARGs have had a long history, with two previous “seasons” of games. The series started as a web puzzle in its first season, and morphed into an online adventure for the sequel, both of which were created and sponsored by ABC television. While this third season was a grassroots effort, it was much more interactive and contained more elements of a traditional ARG. Sadly, with the recent news of ABC’s decision to recently cancel ALIAS, the possibility of a fourth season is very much up in the air.
ABC’s hit TV series Lost has captured the imagination of its viewing audience since its phenomenal pilot episode. There are at least 8 different official and fan-created websites (one of which we reported on before the summer) to explore for more clues and fan-fiction about the Lost universe.
Warning: this article may contain spoilers for seasons 1 and 2 of ABC’s Lost.