Tag: television (page 2 of 3)

All Things Must Come to a Close: The End of a Few ARGs

finish.jpgThey say that news often comes in threes, and recent events in the world of alternate reality gaming proves that the old adage still has teeth. Over the past few days, both Deus City and Red Monday came to a close, and it appears as though Chain Factor may be wrapping up soon as well.

After more than a year of gameplay, Deus City concluded last Tuesday with the release of a thirteen-part story detailing the end of the Time Communications project. Adam Brackin (the real person, not the in-game character) intends to release his dissertation based on the game, and anticipates its publication in late-spring, promising “pretty charts and graphs” from behind the curtain. ARGNet has reported extensively on Deus City in the past. The PM Chat has not been scheduled yet.

The alternate reality game Red Monday came to a close this morning with the release of the first “podiobook” in a five-part mini-series produced by StarKnight Productions. Although only the first chapter is free, the podiobook’s creator J. Marcus Xavier has promised that the faithful followers of the Red Monday ARG will be able to listen to the mini-series for free.

The game generated mild controversy through its launch at the Podcast and New Media Expo in Ontario, California where the podiobook’s creator J. Marcus Xavier passed out red envelopes marked “CLASSIFIED” that referred to the website Red-Monday.com. Following several complaints that the promotion was disturbing convention-goers, the head of the expo Tim Bourguin ejected Xavier from the premises. Bourguin later went on to refer to the launch as the “perfect example of marketing gone bad.”

The Numb3rs alternate reality game Chain Factor also appears to be nearing its conclusion, with all but three KeyCodes and four ShutdownKeys discovered. Participants in the ARG element of the game are working to shut down the system, hopefully saving me from untold hours of casual gameplay. Consider yourself warned: the Chain Factor flash game remains unspeakably addictive.

In the wake of this cavalcade of completion, you may find yourself searching for a new game, such as the newest chapter in the Dark Knight ARG. Something that may interest you is Mur Lafferty’s podiobook Playing For Keeps,which has grabbed my attention lately, and not just because I can’t get enough of Mur’s revisionist look at super powered society. Mur encourages listeners to expand on her superhero-strewn universe by contributing to “Stories of the Third Wave”, utilizing story expansion mechanisms the aspiring PM might want to consider.

Once again…
Click Here to check out Deus City
Click Here to check out Red Monday
Click Here to check out Chain Factor
Click Here to check out the Dark Knight ARG
Click Here to check out Playing for Keeps

Numb3rs Chain Factor: We Probably Should Have Seen This Coming

chainfactor.jpgLast Friday’s episode of Numb3rs (as reported here at ARGNet) sparked discussion at UnFiction. And while the show received generally positive reactions for a positive depiction of the community and a thorough look at the puzzle solving aspects, many were disappointed that the episode downplayed the narrative elements of alternate reality gaming.

Apparently, people spoke too soon, as ARGNet’s own Brooke Thompson received an email from Spectre, one of the characters from last week’s Numb3rs, leading to Chain Factor. Spectre mentioned in the show his plans of developing Chain Factor to rival “Primacy”–if you haven’t yet seen the episode, I won’t spoil you more. At first glance, the website appears to be a casual puzzle game created by a slightly megalomaniacal game developer. The puzzle game has hidden 36 keys “hidden in plain sight among the visual trash of today’s marketing-mad culture”. These keys unlock special powers that can be used in the Chain Factor gameplay. Some of these keys have been discovered as banner ads on Viacom websites such as CBS Sportsline and StarTrek.com.

The admittedly addictive puzzle game has a few bugs in the system. Players have noted that error codes strongly resembling internal memos crop up from time to time indicating the future placement of media. The memos suggest keys will be transmitted via text messaging, television promotions, and out-of-home advertising in California and Minnesota. These production notes indicate that a story may be forthcoming.

The Numb3rs episode defined alternate reality as “a treasure hunt played out in the real world using actual media”. Following that logic, Chain Factor may be a quest to unlock a series of clues hidden throughout the world around us. However, it appears as though the creators of this game are gradually and subtly revealing a narrative to support the treasure hunt. We may get to see Spectre’s plans for an alternate reality game that is all-encompassing…or at least all-encompassing within the Viacom umbrella.

Television shows are releasing supplemental extended realities and alternate reality games more and more frequently. This may prove invaluable to shows looking to keep their audiences engaged during the WGA strike. Who knows which program will be next? Stay tuned to ARGNet for more updates.

Click Here to play Chain Factor.
Click Here for the discussion at UnFiction.
Click Here for the Chain Factor Wiki.

Numb3rs on Alternate Reality Games: Amita ARGs, and Extreme Deaddrops

numb3rs.jpgThe Writer’s Guild of America may be on strike, but you’ll need to wait a few more weeks for hordes of drama-starved television addicts to flock to alternate reality games for succor. While you wait, tune in to CBS tonight at 10pm EST for Numb3rs. Tonight’s episode of the hit series, entitled Primacy, will feature alternate reality gaming. According to SpoilerFix.com:

When a man that worked for the Department of Justice dies from falling off a roof, the team follows a trail to an online game called Primacy, which has an “Alternate Reality” (or real life) side as well. They question a 67-year-old female game player about being up on the same roof. They also question a leather-wearing biker and an Asian business woman. Amita and Larry help with the investigation and Amita is threatened because of her involvement with the game.

The drama revolving around mathematician Charles Epps (David Krumholtz) and his FBI agent brother Don (Rob Morrow) often features techniques familiar to followers of alternate reality games such as cipher decryption and steganography. Be sure to check out Wolfram on Numb3rs after the show for a closer look at the math used in the episode.

If you checked ARGNet too late to catch Primacy (or just want to see it again) and you have a US IP address, go to the Numb3rs homepage for the full episode.

DISCLAIMER: Televised impressions of “alternate reality game” might not mesh with your own.

MTV’s Room 401 Delivers Thrills, Chills, and an Extended Experience

room401.jpg

The famed illusionist and skeptic Harry Houdini died in Detroit Grace Hospital, Room 401 at 1:26PM on Halloween of 1926. A life shrouded in secrecy ended with secrecy, as the master magician left friends and family with ten words that, if uttered, would conclusively prove his greatest escape of all.

Almost a century later, MTV’s new reality show “Room 401” pays homage to the tricks and illusions of Houdini by assembling skilled illusionists to scare the living daylights out of unsuspecting victims. And as those of you who read BoingBoing already know, executive producer Ashton Kutcher is providing viewers with a little something extra.

Embedded within select frames in each episode of “Room 401” are shots of Ashton Kutcher holding up cue cards with clues leading to various websites including clips from future episodes and bonus features such as the storyboard for the show’s teaser. While the puzzles are a trifle simplistic and there does not yet appear to be a cohesive plot, the fun of this game is derived from searching the show’s frames for secret messages (behavior that must make the show’s advertisers ecstatic). Additionally, players are finding hints of something bigger in the websites’ registration information in addition to morse in the online videos, so the possibility for more exists.

Each episode leads players to discover a new website. The game’s most recent website, as of the third episode, has a countdown ending at the next episode and presumably additional content Tuesday at 10pm (EST). Be careful, though–follow the game too closely, and you just might end up the final victim of Room 401.

Click Here for the 401WTF Wiki, a comprehensive walkthrough of the game so far
Click Here for the UnFiction thread
Click Here for the official MTV Website for the show

I Need a Hero! NBC ventures into ARGish territory with Heroes 360

heroes.jpgSing 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.

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Treasure Hunters: The Hunt Is Almost Complete. Will There Be More?

TreasureHunters.pngIt 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.

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