In mid-August, I had the opportunity to work with No Mimes Media, one of the major players in the ARG/Transmedia-creation world, co-founded by ARGNet founder Steve Peters. My role: to “scrub” the websites and puzzles for an alternate reality game (commonly known as an ARG) – what I call “QA” in my day job, consisting of assorted tasks like verifying website content against design documents, and playtesting puzzles to make sure they can be solved as designed. However, it also afforded me the opportunity to see how ARGs are designed and run – a glimpse behind the curtain, and into the inner workings of a development team (often referred to in the alternate reality gaming space as “Puppetmasters” or “PMs”).
The Hunt is the second game by Juxt Interactive and No Mimes Media created for the Cisco Global Sales Experience (GSX), Cisco’s annual sales meeting. For the second year in a row, Cisco has conducted this meeting virtually, using their own products such as Telepresence and WebEx to virtually gather their sales force together for training and information sharing. Including an alternate reality game enhanced the experience while providing education and experience using Cisco’s products by putting the sales force in the center of the action, using Cisco tools to help solve the mystery. An important game mechanic involved players discovering “Key Asset Codes” which are entered into the game’s Hub for points, where the player with the most points at the end of the game is declared the winner.
This year’s experience centered around Isabel Travada, a Cisco System Engineer on a leave of absence to do volunteer work with the Red Cross. Upon returning home one day, she discovered that her apartment has been ransacked, and her father’s journal stolen. Isabel’s father, Ferdinand, traveled the world as a cartographer before his death, and kept a journal of his adventures which he shared with Isabel when she was a child. She was recently featured holding the book on the cover of a magazine that covered her father’s work on an important communications project in Africa, and someone who saw the article broke into her house to take it. Curious about why anyone would want such a private journal, she went through his papers and realized there was more to his writings and drawings than she had noticed as a child. Being very familiar with the book, she is able to recreate some of it from memory, but some portions like the pictures from the places Ferdinand visited are beyond her ability to recall. However, as she pieces her memories together, she realizes the journal is filled with puzzles and clues, and calls upon her friends in the worldwide Cisco sales force to help her solve the puzzles, follow the clues, and send pictures to replace the ones lost. As the players solved the puzzles and figured out the clues, Isabel found herself traveling the world with her father’s former colleague Keith, retracing her father’s steps and coming closer and closer to solving the mystery of the journal, and the man who stole it – and why.