ABC, the producers of LOST, and Australian digital entertainment company Hoodlum walked away from last night’s Emmy Awards with the award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media – Fiction for their work on the alternate reality game Dharma Wants You. ABC secured a win from its NBC competition, beating out both The 30 Rock Digital Experience and The Office Digital Experience for the award.
The game, centering around the now-defunct website DharmaWantsYou.com, subjected participants to a series of tests administered by Octagon Global Recruiting on behalf of the Dharma Initiative. Each test included a cheat function, allowing savvy players to achieve higher scores. Participants taking advantage of the cheats were eventually sorted into the Black Swan groups, while those who played “fairly” were placed into the White Swan Group.
According to Hoodlum, Dharma Wants You utilized a “variety of media platforms ranging from websites, exclusive video, interactive games, Bluetooth, mobile, TV, VOIP, social networks, and complex real-world events involving hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide.” Spanning the gap between the fourth and fifth seasons of LOST, Dharma Wants You is ABC’s third alternate reality game for the show.
The show’s first alternate reality game, The Lost Experience, captured a dedicated global audience, while the show’s second ARG, Find 815, secured a nomination for a Primetime Emmy in 2008. LOST is currently promoting the release of the season five DVDs with Lost University, an in-depth look at the show’s mythology. Enrollment at the university is slated to commence tomorrow.
Click Here for our previous coverage of Dharma Wants You.
As promised, here is our second installment of the spring cleaning of the ARGNet inbox, with game tips and news items dating back to the beginning of the week. Enjoy!
May 21: “N” sent us in the following game tip which he found on “this new site online”: I found this article below on this new site online. There have been random texts with riddles going around about it. What do you guys make of it? I figure this is your area. ——————————— Is When they were Pharaohs really an A.R.G. in disguise? by E.A. Wallis First there was The Beast, then there was I Love Bees and Lost Experience, now an A.R.G. in a story on ancient Egypt? In an age where alternate reality gaming has taken on many forms, there are practically no limits in the way that mass online adventures are now being played, but in the novelization of an upcoming theatrical stage play? In a way When they were Pharaohs might represent the ultimate in reality fact finding, puzzle-solving missions, in what is looking to be another world-hopping adventure, but you’ll need to be an Egyptologist or hieroglyphics expert to crack some of these modern takes on ancient riddles, because though some clues are hidden out in plain sight with hieroglyphic translations conveniently included, others are presented completely without. Of course the ancient Egyptians themselves had games and other leisurely pastimes to remedy their boredom (although without Facebook) but a modern-day reenactment of the mythological quest of Horus and Isis to revenge Osiris? With the re-discovery of the mummy of Hatshepsut in 2007, this real life saga has enough drama and irony, worthy of a Greek Tragedy. I may have found the eye of Horus, but if you can tell me where Osiris is laid, you might as well solve the riddle of the Sphinx. We did a little Google-fu and found this exact text (save for one line) on Craigslist ads from Los Angeles and Baltimore. After looking at the web site from the ad, I’m going to go out on a limb and say no, not an ARG in disguise. However, prove me wrong and earn a place in my heart.
May 21: The good and wonderful Tony Walsh send in this tidbit about an upcoming event: Hi guys, just wanted to let you know about this upcoming event in San Francisco. Tony Walsh (Phantom Compass), Lance Weiler (the WorkBook Project), and Ken Ecklund (sic) (World Without Oil) will all be appearing at KQED in San Francisco next Saturday. http://www.bavc.org/index.php?option=com_registrationpro&Itemid=935&func=details&did=903 On Saturday, May 30 at 1:30PM Pacific in the KQED ATRIUM, Tony Walsh (Phantom Compass) and Ken Eklund (World Without Oil) will present on the topic of games for change: Games for Change has turned into its own movement of creatives, technologists and gamers who are developing interactive and game projects driven by social issues.Tony Walsh, CEO of Canadian game design firm Phantom Compass, and Ken Eklund, developer of the award-winning ARG World Without Oil unpack some of the most successful social change games and related creative experiments and provide a blueprint for filmmakers looking to get into “game space.” Hey, that’s only three days from now! Hopefully this meas that some of our Bay-area readers can make it down to see this presentation!
As soon as the Octagon Global Recruiting ad flashed across the television screen during the final commercial break of the season four finale of Lost, fans were on their computers, headed towards the advertised web site. It wasn’t more than a few moments before the world figured out that something big was bound to happen at Comic-Con 2008, which is happening right now in San Diego. True to their word, the Dharma Initiative is actively recruiting new members for its global corporation, and quite a few lucky attendees have had the chance to take the test to become part of the Dharma team. For those unable to attend, a sister web site is all we get for now, but rumors swirl that claim that the new Lost ARG is scheduled to make a move to the mainstream starting tomorrow.
The events at Comic-Con were disclosed through an email sent out to those who submitted their emails to the Octagon Global Recruiting (OGR) web site, which also appears at the site itself. One thing to note here — if you view the source of the web page version, an interesting message from someone calling themselves RuckusGuy shows up — we won’t spoil it for you, but it involves Bluetooth, which we’ll get to later.
Reports about the events in San Diego are still coming in, but according to the fine folks at Lostpedia, the team from Dharma have Australian accents and are vehement as to their purpose at the Con — a member of the Lostpedia forums claims to have overheard one of the recruiters saying, “Yes. We’re an actual REAL organization currently trying to recruit new members,” to a curious onlooker. The test itself takes about five minutes, and involves a few oddball questions as well as some interesting images shown on audio/visual equipment. To make sure everyone at the Con was aware of the campaign, Dharma ‘sponsored’ Saturday’s panel discussion at which executive producers Cartlon Cuse and Damon Lindelof were joined by actor Matthew Fox to answer questions about the hit television series. However, the sponsorship was quickly pulled when a test applicant — most likely a paid actor — interrupted the discussion to show a new video featuring Dr. Marvin Candle, aka
Our own Celina Beach has been on the scene at Comic-Con all weekend, and we expect her reports to start trickling in sometime today or tomorrow. Hopefully, she has a chance today to take the Dharma test — she’s on a waiting list — and can tell us about her experiences. That Bluetooth reference we hinted at earlier? Well, there’s a video floating around showing what happened when someone enabled their device within proximity of the Dharma area. As for the next stage of the game, we’re optimistic about new content tomorrow, so watch those web sites!
It should be no surprise to anyone who has been following the show LOST that there would be something special during the season finale. Fans were not disappointed. Close to the end of the episode, a mysterious commercial branded with “Paid for by ABC” aired, advertising a recruiting event for a company called Octagon Global Recruiting. They are looking for A LOT of “volunteers to assist in a range of unpaid positions” – a scrolling list displays diverse opportunities and skills ranging from Physicists, Mathematicians, and Botanical Researchers, to Drivers, Janitors, and Ex-Military. This recruiting event will be taking place in San Diego, July 24-27… wait, what’s that, you say? Those dates seem familiar? They should – they’re the same dates as the San Diego Comic Con.
The website for Octagon Global Recruiting doesn’t currently display much other than a streaming version of the aforementioned commercial. However, there is one other nugget of information to be found, tying Octagon Global to the Dharma Initiative. The two organizations are collaborating and recruiting volunteers willing to “contribute to an important new research project.” Interested? Just enter your email to register. So far, no reports have surfaced regarding contact from Octagon, but stay tuned.
Discussion has already started at Unfiction andThe Fuselage
SPOILER ALERT — This article reveals information that may nor may not have meant to be found by now. Read at your own risk.
As we reported yesterday, there’s a new alternate reality game starting up for acclaimed television series Lost, known as Find 815. According to the Lostpedia, the action revolves around Sam Thomas, a former employee of fictional Oceanic Airlines who is discouraged by the lack of progress in the search for Oceanic flight 815. For those unaware of what this all means, the simplest explanation is that many of the castaways on the TV show were on the doomed flight, which has driven the plot and mythology of the series, soon entering its fourth season.
Players of the game have discovered a wide range of content connected to the game, including web sites, email, a voicemail number, various videos and even a few hidden secrets. As with any new ARG, players are dissecting every aspect of the game, and in the process, discoveries have been made in the last 24 hours that indicate that certain game elements aren’t as secure or hidden as the game designers might have hoped for. In the instance of a guest post on the Unfiction forums, a directory was apparently left unprotected, allowing a player to gain access to game assets. Another issue that defies explanation, for now, is why the mysterious login form at the front of the Maxwell Group web site is actually hosted on find815.com.
The game is expected to run until late January, when season four of Lost kicks off. We’ll keep an eye on things as this new experience marches on.
Find 815 – Trailhead
The Maxwell Group web site
Recording of outgoing voicemail (link leads to recording, not official site)
NetNinja archive of game videos
Comic-Con 2007 has arrived, and our roving reporter Celina Beach is at the event, ready for the action to start. This year’s event includes attendees many alternate reality gaming fans will be keeping tabs on, including J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse of the hit TV show Lost. If you remember, it was this time last year when Rachel Blake, a character in The Lost Experience, confronted panel members about their involvement with the Hanso Foundation. We don’t expect the same sort of large-scale ARG event to take place with this year’s Lost, but you never know.
Abrams will be serving double duty at the Con, as he will also be discussing the upcoming movie Star Trek movie. However, there are rumblings across the blogosphere that he will shed a little light into the 1-18-08 mystery that began with a pre-roll movie trailer earlier this month.
With Celina blogging and Tweeting from the event, we will have up-to-the-minute coverage if any ARG-related news breaks through the course of the next few days, so bookmark ARGNet and check back regularly.