As the Watchmen ARG (and for the purposes of this article I will assume it’s still an ARG) neared the movie’s release date, it became clear to the players that this was not necessarily an alternate reality game with something for them to do. It was more of a story, promoting the movie by giving the players a look into the world of the Watchmen before the premiere. After all, this was to be expected when an ARG deals with a story that is concrete and already clearly defined.
An interactive story seems clearly to be an acceptable way of generating marketing buzz around a product. But when the crowd of seasoned ARG players takes notice, there seems to be a desire from the player perspective for something more. When a player commits their time it should be for more something more than merely the act of lurking a site or subscribing to a YouTube profile.
A mere two days before the release of The Watchmen, the highly anticipated film version of the famous graphic novel, another viral web site has launched, and this time, participants are thrust into the middle of a narrated peek at the six main characters of the story. Six Minutes to Midnight is the latest in a long string of web-based buzz-generating campaigns promoting the film, and has the look and feel similar to Eagle Eye: Freefall, the enjoyable 10-minute experience first discovered in September 2008.
Upon arriving at the site, players are asked to provide their first name and, if they feel up to it, their phone number — so far, U.S. and Canadian numbers have been proven to work. For those that choose the web-only version, the experience kicks off with an introductory video and then jumps into the game, whereas those brave enough to enter their digits are treated to a phone call (complete with a Warner Brothers pre-amble about a do-not-call list, yuck) as the intro video kicks in. Either way, the end result is the same — the player’s job is to enter words into a text box based on what they see within a looping, changing ink blot image. Figure out the correct terms, earn a reward: a video clip montage of each of the six characters, narrated by Rorschach himself (we assume).
If Warner Bros. can reconcile with Fox in time, you will be able to see The Watchmen in theaters come March 6th. In the meantime, fans can tide themselves over with The New Frontiersman, the online home of Rorschach’s favorite newspaper by the same name.
Whether the site will be home to a full alternate reality game or just a handful of sneak peeks is unknown at this time, but New Frontiersman is due to go live early this week when the evidence seal seen on the homepage is broken and should provide fans with a nice treat either way. Join Rorschach and delve into the conspiracy as it happens.