Belated congratulations go out to community members Wishi-San and Meak, who were two of the four winners in the Sable & Shuck ARG. A promotional device for Stella Artois beer, the Sable & Shuck ARG ran from September of 2004 until wrapping up in June of this year. Because the final puzzle was never solved, contest organizers announced earlier this month that they would split the grand prize of £10946 between the four that “were most worthy of the prize”. That means that Wishi-San and Meak each get a nice £2,736.50 slice of the pie. Bravo to them and the other two unidentified winners!
Sable & Shuck, the promotional
alternate reality game crafted by Draft
London for Stella Artois,
has finally come to its conclusion – not with a bang, not even with a
whimper, but with a wall of silence punctuated only by anguished complaints
from its players. Despite offering a £10,946 ($19,225) cash prize
to the player who cracked the final puzzle, the solve eluded the community
and the closing date passed without comment from behind the curtain.
A newcomer reading the post-game thoughts from the players might imagine
that S&S was an unmitigated disaster. On the contrary, the game showed
many a flash of brilliance during its rocky eight month run. Unfortunately,
however, the exceptional design and colourful premise failed to compensate
for the chronic gameplay flaws that ultimately rendered the game a much-maligned
alternate reality car crash. By squandering such high quality material
and even inspiring some players to disown the brand itself, it will live
on as a warning to would-be corporate PM’s in how seriously ‘ARGvertising’
So where did it all go wrong?
We wrote earlier about a website called Sable & Shuck, which seems to be part of some sort of viral, immersive, ARG-ish promotion for Stella Artois. A series of sites revealed a story straight out of an old Twilight Zone episode, involving deals with the devil and an obsessed hero named Jon Harker trying to get to the bottom of it all.
Recently, the discovery of an additional website called Help Me Find Jon (www.helpmefindjon.com) has upped the ante, both literally and figuratively. It seems Harker has disappeared in the midst of his investigation of the strange goings on involving a mysterious man in black, and his sister Brigid is asking for help in finding him. Notably, she’s offering a reward of £10,946 for his whereabouts. You can register and submit your answer, so it looks like if you solve the mystery, you win the reward. Is it real? Well, as Brigid says, “You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.”
Submitted for your approval: A mysterious Futures Trading Company that seems to provide luxury goods and services in exchange for……your soul!!
Sable & Shuck and it’s associated websites were discovered last month, and a few folks received an email from them yesterday (um, Halloween), reviving interest in figuring out exactly what’s going on here. It seems that S&S deals in providing clients with their every desire in exchange for their soul. If you sign up to receive further info, you’ll get this email reply:
You have elected to begin negotiations with Sable & Shuck, a company that provides commodities of supreme quality and worth, in return for human souls that meet our criteria*.
We will resume contact at midnight. If you do not wish to pursue negotiations for any reason whatsoever, simply click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this page and you will never hear from us again.
*Transactions can only take place after a contract is signed by both parties.
The email is signed by S&S’s “Director of Acquisitions,” who is also listed on their site as Director of Procurement and Director of Punitive Measures(!) among other things. Well, we’ll see what happens at midnight, then.
Digging around takes you to various sites: Trident Air, Inferno Cargo, Marlowe the Hornchurch Star, and finally to the site of the story’s protagonist (we think), He Walks Among Us.
As far as we can tell, this online world seems to be related to Stella Artois, but beyond that, we really have no idea what this is or how deep it goes. In the meantime, I think I’ll book a trip to Valhalla and see what happens.