This morning, a knock on my door woke me up. A package greeted me on my doorstep, addressed to ARGNet (care of Celina Beach). Inside was a tiny, elegant package and a postcard with the picture of a grisly kill room and a bloody infinity sign. This was familiar.
This was F8.
We’ve reported on The Infinity Killer, the nefarious serial killer at the heart of the Dexter alternate reality game, a few times over the past few months. In fact, the image sent to ARGNet bears a striking resemblance to the kill room set up at San Diego’s Comic-Con that launched the alternate reality game. And this package had F8’s name written all over it (figuratively, of course). It’s safe to say we’ve taken an interest in him. And it seems as though he’s taken an interest in ARGNet staffer Celina Beach as well, as the back of the postcard reads:
I’ve been following you for a while. And it seems you’re onto me as well. I have to say, I’m quite flattered. I’m thinking you might be interested in picking my brain (assuming my heart whets your appetite). You + 8 other bloggers I admire have received packages like the one you just opened. I am going to grant an exclusive interview to the first of you to write a story about me + the present. I can assure you, my friends are just dying to see it.
I am always thinking of you
Photo credit: James Hamilton
The hunt for a serial killer is nothing new in the world of alternate reality games. However when this experience is backed by a major broadcasting company, it invariably spills out of the computer screen and into the real world. The culprit in this case is the Showtime television series Dexter. The show follows the life of Dexter Morgan, a forensic expert working for Miami PD who is a serial killer himself. In past years, Showtime has led into the new season of Dexter by setting up a Dexter-themed newsstand parodying popular magazines, releasing a personalized faux-news report letting viewers give friends the “Dexter treatment”, turning thirteen fountains across the country red with fake blood (with Philadelphia’s Love Park Fountain pictured above), and airing an animated web series providing a look at some of Dexter’s first kills. This year, an alternate reality game will welcome in the new season of Dexter, which returns September 25th.
As we previously reported at ARGNet, a Dexter-themed SCVNGR mission at Comic-Con led players to a grisly kill room. The players of this experience joined the hunt through their contact, Dee Pratt, a former FBI agent. Her website, SerialHuntress.com, is the first introduction to the now infamous serial killer known as the ‘Infinity Killer.’ Pratt’s interest in the case borders on obsession but that also translates to frequent updates via her YouTube account, SerialHuntress. In a true stroke of genius, she determined that harnessing collective intelligence would be the most effective way of tracking the killer down, and started her venture Justice By All, which also serves as the in-game forum area.
The technologies used for this game range from Facebook and Twitter to international phones that sometimes reveal vital information (but only if you are nice) and require cooperation of the player base to reach certain conclusions by the timelines imposed. The game’s developers have maintained a steady pace that allows everyone to be fully immersed in a cat-and-mouse thrill ride. All in-game characters have responded promptly to player requests, even the character that was supposedly in China, which helps maintain both interest and interaction.
Launching viral campaigns at San Diego Comic-Con is no longer a surprise, and has become almost expected. Some campaigns have even managed to incorporate participation from those not at Comic-Con, allowing players at home to provide assistance to those on the ground. Showtime, however, has upped the ante with its viral campaign for the hit series Dexter by giving non-Con goers the ability to participate in their own towns. There is a caveat, however. Your town must be one of five major metropolitan areas chosen to participate: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, and Atlanta.
Whether or not you will be attending Comic-Con, participation requires downloading the SCVNGR application, available for iPhone and Android, in order to view the Dexter-themed Treks challenge. The purpose of the game is to record “kills” by completing the challenges located both at the Convention Center and at nearby locations, and earning limited edition SCVNGR badges that can be redeemed for Dexter merchandise. For players in the other five participating cities, the same game-play applies but with SCVNGR Treks designed for their area.