In this month’s Wired, Lone Shark Games is presenting a unique challenge to puzzlers, techies, and . . . thugs? Promising “A Guided Tour of the Dark Side,” this special “Underworld Exposed” issue includes fascinating articles about real-world crime and other things hidden from plain sight. Along these lines, the magazine, available both in print and for the iPad, contains secret codes that, when deciphered, will provide an email address. When contacted at a certain time and date, Decode will confer upon you a most dubious honor and a place in the ultra-secret puzzling society, the Ring of Dishonor.
The Ring of Dishonor is a darker, scarier version of Decode’s regularly featured Ring of Honor puzzles. How do you get started on your criminal puzzle-solving career? Check out this trailhead puzzle, involving the now-extinct language used by Chinese women to communicate without being watched. Using this puzzle as a launching pad, nine other secret languages are being revealed in quiz form at Decode to supplement the print magazine (iPad readers have all the secret languages available already). Somehow, through the magazine, these secret languages will bring enthusiastic seekers “behind the door,” so to speak, if they’ve got the puzzle-solving chops to figure it all out.
On Monday night, Lone Shark Games, Evan Ratliff, and Repo Men runner Usman Akeju joined the ARGNetcast to talk about their cross-country hunt for four runners carrying artiforgs from the Union. Yesterday, Repo Men hunter Geneva Conventional caught both Usman Akeju and Ciji Thorton at Seabrook Roller Skating Rink in Lanham, Maryland. Prior to his capture, Usman visited his mother’s house, prompting Lone Shark Games President Mike Selinker to quip, “It proves what I’ve been saying for years: Nothing good can come from bringing a girl over to your mom’s house.”
MovieViral’s most recent RepoCast features an interview with Geneva Conventional along with Lone Shark Games’ Creative Director Teeuwynn Woodruff and hunters Shinma22, fubarcrew, BiggKat77, semisweetCJ, and eviltikimonkey describing Ciji and Usman’s capture, as well as their efforts to catch the other two runners. Additionally, the Repo Men website has released an official statement announcing the capture, raising a number of questions:
How could two runners be so blind (especially as Thornton had a top-of-the-line Ocurity eye) as to miss someone sneaking up on both of them? Didn’t they have a feeling deep inside (perhaps in Usman’s Nephrolux kidney) that they could both be caught doing one of their individual Groundswell tasks? Will Groundswell loosen its restrictions on the other two runners, Alex Gamble and Will LaFerriere—or will the noose tighten even more?
Ciji Thorton is a 26-year old woman with an artificial eye.
Will LaFerriere is a 27-year old former military man with an artificial heart.
Alex Gamble is a 22-year old female with an artificial liver.
And Usman Akeju is a 27-year old software consultant with an artificial kidney.
For the next month, three simple words can cost these four runners $7,500. Any registered hunter in the country can repossess the runner’s artiforg (artificial organ) by getting within speaking distance of them, uttering a three word phrase, receiving their codeword, collecting their artiforg, and calling their Union rep using the runner’s phone. Promoting the upcoming release of the movie Repo Men, this alternate reality game will test the abilities of Ciji, Will, Alex, and Usman to remain undetected against an onslaught of investigative skills from “bounty hunters” nationwide.
Lone Shark Games, Wired, and Universal have selected four applicants to attempt to disappear for the next month. According to the teaser page for the campaign, the hunt for these four volunteers begins February 25 at the stroke of midnight, Eastern Standard Time (Feb 24 at 9PM, PST).
As Repossession Specialists, hunters will be seeking out the four individuals previously selected, to “retrieve ‘artiforgs’ [Union-branded artificial organs] from the possession of users who are seriously behind on their payments. Successfully retrieving an artiforg results in a $7,500 cash prize. In order to hunt, however, prospective Repossession Specialists need to submit a job application. The site clearly states that “[o]nly registered Repo Men who follow all local and national laws and Union rules are eligible to receive cash for artiforgs.” The teaser page now links directly to Repo Men’s Union Cares website, so it looks like the contest will be at least partially integrated with the ongoing viral campaign. Registration to hunt as a Repossession Specialist hasn’t opened yet, but should become available any day now as the countdown approaches zero.
Clues for the game may come in unexpected places, so players are warned to keep their eyes open. The teaser specifically charges potential hunters to “scan our posters and media for valuable information,” so stay sharp! Maybe that string of numbers under the Repo Men title means something after all…
Click Here for MovieViral.com’s coverage of the Union Cares viral page
Click Here for the discussion at Unfiction.com
Last fall, Lone Shark Games and Wired Magazine conducted a month-long, nationwide manhunt for reporter Evan Ratliff, with $5,000 on the line. After 25 days on the run, Ratliff’s love of gluten-free pizza spelled his downfall when the owner of Naked Pizza caught him in New Orleans. This time, it’s your turn. Lone Shark Games, in conjunction with Wired Magazine and Universal Pictures, are searching for a few good men (and women) adventurous enough to put their regular lives on hold for a month, starting in late February. Selected “Runners” will be provided vital technology along with seed money to escape detection for a month. Every Runner to make it a month without getting caught receives a $7,500 reward. But, as the contest notes, “people will be trying to find you, and they’ll use any means allowed in the rules to try to figure out where you are.”
This companion piece to The Hunt for Evan Ratliff serves as a promotion for the upcoming Universal Pictures film Repo Men. In the film, Union employees Remy and Jake (Jude Law and Forest Whitaker) repossess artificial organs from their recipients after a period of nonpayment. Thus, taken in context, the Runners are in for the flight of their lives. Of course, Lone Shark Games President Mike Selinker assured me that Runners who are caught should not have worry about the Union harvesting their organs…for all definitions of “organ harvesting” that you or I would know about.
It appears that a penchant for gluten-free foods can cost you, as Evan Ratliff learned earlier today. As of 7PM EDT tonight, Jeff, the owner of Naked Pizza, the only gluten-free pizza shop in New Orleans, caught Evan redhanded. As a gracious gesture, Evan received the pizza free of charge. As we previously reported, Evan has spent the last three weeks attempting to avoid capture as part of a contest for Wired.com, with $5,000 at stake.
Read about Evan’s capture here, or follow the whole harrowing ordeal by reading about the hunt at wired.com/vanish. Congratulations to the @vanishteam on Twitter for tracking Evan down, and to Jeff for sealing the deal.
Congratulations are also in order for Evan, who successfully evaded capture for three weeks before his appetite got the better of him. For a detailed account of his capture, read the breakdown at Newscloud.