There’s something to be said about major broadcasters who go out of their way to bring interactive content to their dedicated viewership, so when we were tipped off about the continuation of “Heroes Evolution”, the official Heroes ARG, we were quite pleased. This is the same game we began talking about almost a year ago, which we previously knew as the Heroes 360 Experience, so those of you familiar with web sites such as primatechpaper.com and YamagatoFellowship.org are going to be happy to know that the campaign will most likely continue to use these resources.
The announcement of the next stage of the game is part of a press release we dug up at The Futon Critic in which the message is clear — NBC is big on transmedia experiences. On top of announcing expansive digital experiences for new series “Lipstick Jungle” and “Knight Rider,” the release contained this:
The next chapter in the highly anticipated “Heroes” online mythology continues with “Heroes Evolution.” Fans will discover intriguing new back-story and plot twists through the “Heroes” online and mobile micro-sites. The popular graphic novel continues in originals all winter long as well.
So, we mentioned an sneak peek, right? Well, it’s waiting for you, just after the jump, so click on to bask in the glory of exclusive, unreleased content!
About two months back, I was watching the Conan O’Brien show on a whim, when I was treated to his story about hornymanatee.com. As Conan related to his audience, he had used the URL as part of a joke on a Monday night, but when the standards department of NBC got wind of the situation, things got complicated. Conan was told that if a web site URL is used on-air and doesn’t already exist, then NBC may be liable for the site’s content, which means that they must go out and purchase the URL themselves. So, in summary, NBC is the proud owner of a fake manatee porn site because of an ad-libbed joke.
As fans of alternate reality gaming already know, assets of any ARG must be secured before a game utilizes the asset in a live situation. If a game is going to use a particular email address, then the creative powers behind the game must secure that email address well in advance of the game being launched, and the same goes for web site URLs, phone numbers, addresses, and so on. At ARGFest 07 in San Francisco, Evan Jones commented about this type of situation, recounting a story about how a dot-com email address used in the ReGenesis show had originally been written into the script as a dot-ca address. A well-meaning editor thought “dot-com” sounded better and changed the script without notifying the extended reality creators. Fortunately for the creative team behind the ARG, the dot-com site was registered by someone on their team ahead of time, and everything worked out.
Fast forward to this week, in which a similar situation has unfolded.
Sing it with me, ladies:
I need a Hero[es ARG]!
I’m holding out for a Hiro ’til the end of the night.
It’s gotta be sure [it’s an ARG]
And it’s gotta be soon
And it’s gotta be larger than life…
Okay, I never was any good at the parody-lyrics thing. And while I’d love a full-blown Heroes ARG (if for no other reason than to feed my Hiro crush), even a “digital extension” of the Heroes story seems like a fun opportunity to immerse oneself in the world of this hit series.
It’s probably too early to dub Heroes 360 an actual ARG, but audience members who have been watching closely have been aware of some Lost-style clues in the show that suggested there might be hidden rewards for those willing to dig deeper. NBC promises “rich, original content” including on-air clues to investigate, “interaction with unique mobile content,” access to the phone system of one of the companies in the show, and additional content on the NBC site including hidden sites and secret files.
A website for Primatech Paper was shown on-screen in this week’s episode of the show. Call the number on the site and you receive a code which, when entered, redirects you to a job application form (unfortunately, applications at this time are limited to US residents). Despite the press releases from the network (and unlike ABC’s comparable efforts for LOST, KyleXY and Fallen), the site is intriguingly subtle about its connection to the show and as yet makes no reference to Nissan, NBC’s corporate partner in producing Heroes 360.
It started with an all-call at NBC for short audition videos of unique teams of three willing to put themselves on the line using their brains and stamina. From the submissions, NBC picked ten teams that would be emerged into a part-reality show, part-ARG, hunt for treasure. Teams receive directional messages via video and text messages to their cell phones, while driving, flying, sailing, riding, hiking, and climbing their way to the clues and, ultimately, the treasure. The game itself has hints of the movie National Treasure (with the music having a VERY familiar undertone to the movie’s score), and it educates the viewers and the participants in the mysteries surrounding the American Revolution and the initial creation of the United States.
This is the second endeavor of a TV network to place participants in an ARG-like situation, rather than running an ARG parallel to the show as in Push, NV, following Fox’s cancelled Murder in Small Town X. Will this show be more successful? So far they have managed something that seems to be important to current, large-scale ARGs: corporate sponsorship. The fact that companies bought into this plan gives hope that the ARG’s are not only the future of gaming, but the future of entertainment for the masses, be they participant or spectator.
The series comes to an end next week, airing live Monday, August 21 at 9pm on NBC. From the original 10 teams, three remain: Air Force, the Geniuses, and the Southie Boys. Tune in to watch the exciting conclusion of the hunt.