The new Sherlock Holmes movie comes out Christmas Day, but before then, fans of the Great Detective have a chance to try out their own sleuthing skills with a slick game promotion put out by AKQA and Hide & Seek in the UK, called 221B.
While I wouldn’t go as far as calling 221B an alternate reality game, it is very entertaining, when it actually works. The game is trying out new space by tethering itself to Facebook. To play, you can sign up as either Watson or Holmes and then invite a friend to play along in the other role. Some people have reported problems with the Facebook interface, but there is also an option to play the game by yourself, switching back and forth between the roles to get all the clues. There is also a special, free version of TweetDeck you can install which gives out hints for the weekly games and allows you to follow some of the characters from the movie.
After you sign up on the web site and link the game to your Facebook login, you can dive into the first chapter. Each story begins with a video of a character explaining what’s going on and what they need you to do. Materials are presented for you to click on and read–photographs, documents, etc. The best thing about this game are the graphics–each item is beautifully designed and rendered to look like an authentic 19th century artifact. After you examine each piece of evidence it’s added to your notebook and you can proceed to the next step. Each action you take in the game provides experience points which are available for use later in the game.
It’s been three days since Find the Lost Ring launched with a fanfare of posters and yarn. Since that time, players and puppetmasters alike have been busily fulfilling the prophetic messages written on vintage Olympic postcards. The game traces a story fraught with mystery and intrigue across the globe in so many languages, you’ll be glad you studied Esperanto in university. You did study Esperanto, didn’t you?
If you’ve been reading ARGNet recently, you might be able to guess one of the developers behind the curtain. However, it’s now official. According to the Lost Ring development team,
The Lost Ring is a global alternate reality adventure created in partnership between McDonald’s, AKQA and Jane McGonigal. Designed in collaboration with the IOC, The Lost Ring invites players from across the globe to join forces online and in the real world, as they investigate forgotten mysteries and urban legends of the ancient games. The Lost Ring recognizes McDonald’s historic sponsorship of the Olympic Games, and brings the spirit of the Games to people around the world.
Jane McGonigal adds that she is “so thrilled to be collaborating with these organizations to create what we hope will be the most global ARG, ever. This is really a dream project for me – we are bringing together the two kinds of games, ARGs and the Olympics, that have the power to engage and unite people all over the world.” So far, the game is succeeding admirably, with characters interacting with players in English, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Mandarin, Japanese, and Esperanto.
If your curiosity is piqued, a brief review of what’s happened so far is waiting for you after the jump.