Last month, I presented you with a deceptively complex puzzle Stitch Media used to challenge ARGFest attendees. To date, only six puzzlers have managed to walk away with the solution. If you still want to attempt to join their ranks, stop reading here, because I’m finally going to reveal the solution below.
ARGFest is a yearly gathering of transmedia players, designers, and enthusiasts that has been going on for almost ten years. And while the gathering is now dominated by the series of panels and presentation that make up the conference, every year offers ample opportunities for attendees to settle down and tackle perplexing puzzles as a group. Often, the most challenging part is finding the puzzles in the first place.
Stitch Media hid the following puzzle in the ARGFest program, leaving attendees perplexed under an ever-increasing stack of annotated programs. After receiving a number of hints from Evan Jones at Stitch Media, a few players managed to break the code and make their way into the Winner’s Circle. Do you have what it takes to do the same? We’ll release the full explanation for the solution after ARGFest coverage is completed . . . until then, see if you can figure it out yourself!
This article is the first in a series, providing summaries of the panel presentations at ARGFest-o-Con 2008 in Boston.
The first panel discussion featured Evan Jones of Stitch Media as the moderator, Yomi Ayeni (Expanding Universe), Elan Lee (Fourth Wall Studios), Lance Weiler (Seize the Media), and Blair Erickson (Millions of Us). The panel explored the challenges and advantages that arise from cross-media productions.
Blair Erickson started the discussion with a description of an early project, an alternate reality game promoting World Wrestling Entertainment. Recognizing that a major draw of wrestling is the love of a fight, Erickson moved the rivalry between two wrestlers onto virtual worlds, with a game that played out over more than 100,000 threads, with players contributing in support of their favored athlete. The game culminated in Summer Slam, a pay-per-view match between the wrestlers. More recently, Millions of Us developed an ARG for the Sarah Connor Chronicles, which delved deep into the franchise’s mythology.
Yomi Ayeni discussed his work with Violette’s Dream, an ARG running as part of the upcoming video game, Velvet Assassin. The video game is based on the true story of a female soldier in World War II. The alternate reality portion of the game operates under the assumption that the game’s protagonist repurposed Nazi gold to help undercover agents in need. The aim was to make the game as real to life as possible: the first gold bar was found by former ARGNet writer Dee Cook in Fredericksburg, Texas, a town with deep historical ties to Germany. Ayeni described the project as a “fingerprintless” project that runs parallel to the video game.
Dan Hon was kind enough to send us an email letting us know that the transcript from the 2007 SWSX panel discussion “ARG! The Attack of the Alternate Reality Games” is pubished on his blog, Extenuating Circumstances. Alice Taylor, the Vice President of Digital Content at the BBC, was the moderator for the panel which included Hon (also the COO of Mind Candy), Brian Clark (Founder/CEO, GMD Studios/IndieWire), Evan Jones (Creative Director/Producer at Stitch Media) and Brooke Thompson (Giant Mice and ARGNet).
There is a lot of information to sift through, as the panel talks about everything from how ARG is still “emerging” to how budgets are created. Thanks, Dan.