As previously reported on ARGNet, Wired magazine and Lone Shark Games have created a special “Underworld Exposed” issue to delight and confound puzzle-solvers and would-be thieves eager to join the nefarious Ring of Dishonor, a special place for the craftiest of puzzlers. Frustrated by the secret ciphers hidden in the magazine, available both in print and on the iPad, I cornered master puzzle-maker and president of Lone Shark Games, Mike Selinker.
Let’s see if he’ll crack under the interrogation lamp:
In this month’s Wired, Lone Shark Games is presenting a unique challenge to puzzlers, techies, and . . . thugs? Promising “A Guided Tour of the Dark Side,” this special “Underworld Exposed” issue includes fascinating articles about real-world crime and other things hidden from plain sight. Along these lines, the magazine, available both in print and for the iPad, contains secret codes that, when deciphered, will provide an email address. When contacted at a certain time and date, Decode will confer upon you a most dubious honor and a place in the ultra-secret puzzling society, the Ring of Dishonor.
The Ring of Dishonor is a darker, scarier version of Decode’s regularly featured Ring of Honor puzzles. How do you get started on your criminal puzzle-solving career? Check out this trailhead puzzle, involving the now-extinct language used by Chinese women to communicate without being watched. Using this puzzle as a launching pad, nine other secret languages are being revealed in quiz form at Decode to supplement the print magazine (iPad readers have all the secret languages available already). Somehow, through the magazine, these secret languages will bring enthusiastic seekers “behind the door,” so to speak, if they’ve got the puzzle-solving chops to figure it all out.
Puzzle aficionados and alternate reality game players have a new resource for the latest news and views about puzzles, alternate reality games, scavenger hunts, geocaching, and other sources of “harrowing mental torments.” Wired recently launched its new subsite, Decode, in the wake of Wired’s National Magazine Award for best special-topic issue, which recognized the magazine for its puzzle-riddled mystery issue of May 2009.
I am excited to announce that Decode will be syndicating ARGNet content on the site, starting with Jane Doh’s recent coverage of the We Lost Our Gold treasure hunt in New York City. So, in addition to finding our stories here at ARGNet or via our RSS feed, Facebook page, Digg account, or on Twitter, you can visit Wired for the latest news about alternate reality games, transmedia storytelling, puzzle hunts, and that new Juzzling craze that’s sweeping the nation. Wired has consistently explored creative avenues of engaging its readership through endeavors such as Wired Magazine‘s Mystery Issue, Wired UK‘s Enigma Challenge, and the manhunts for Evan Ratliff and the Repo Men film. Hopefully, our new relationship will help raise interest and awareness in the burgeoning alternate reality gaming and transmedia space.
Special thanks to Chris Baker and the staff at Wired for creating the new subsite, and to Mike Selinker and Teeuwynn Woodruff from Lone Shark Games for spearheading the effort to make Decode a reality.
Wired UK has teamed up with alternate reality game designers Six to Start, creators of the 2010 SXSW Best Game Award winner Smokescreen, to make this month’s issue of Wired UK a platform for a transmedia game contest. Six to Start’s immersive transmedia games have been widely recognized for high-quality storytelling and entertaining game play. In Smokescreen, Six to Start and Channel 4 launched a fictional social network that brought issues of online identity and privacy to the forefront for a target audience of 14- to 19-year-olds. We Tell Stories, winner of the 2008 SXSW Experimental and Best in Show Awards, involved a collaboration with Penguin Books to encourage the reinvention and retelling of classic stories.
A novel mix of traditional print publishing and digital experience, this month’s issue of Wired UK contains a game within its pages. According to Six to Start producer and game designer Matt Wieteska,
The game has been designed to exist within and alongside this month’s Wired. The issue’s focus is on the rise of location-based and social gaming, and the idea of game-like ‘achievements’ and how they drive our curiosity and progress. Our tasks and puzzles are scattered throughout its pages, margins, graphics and text – so keep your eyes peeled! Of course, the issue is just the beginning – the game soon expands to take in online content and puzzles, alongside some cool bells and whistles that I don’t want to spoil for you!
Suggesting something even more than a puzzle contest, Wieteska teased me with this: “[t]he game itself does have a theme, an interesting setting, and some cool little stories nestling inside it. I don’t want to give too much away, but we’re hoping you’ll enjoy the fun, tongue-in-cheek tone and all the little easter eggs and references we’ve hidden to some of our favourite things.”
Only players based in the United Kingdom will be eligible for the grand prize of an iPad, but according to Six to Start co-founder, acting CEO, and chief creative officer Adrian Hon, the creators have “made an effort to make as many of the assets available internationally” as possible. Non-UK players will still be able to experience most of the game online, even though, according to Wieteska, “[w]e’ve got some really cool stuff going on inside the issue, so people should grab one if they can!”
On Monday night, Lone Shark Games, Evan Ratliff, and Repo Men runner Usman Akeju joined the ARGNetcast to talk about their cross-country hunt for four runners carrying artiforgs from the Union. Yesterday, Repo Men hunter Geneva Conventional caught both Usman Akeju and Ciji Thorton at Seabrook Roller Skating Rink in Lanham, Maryland. Prior to his capture, Usman visited his mother’s house, prompting Lone Shark Games President Mike Selinker to quip, “It proves what I’ve been saying for years: Nothing good can come from bringing a girl over to your mom’s house.”
MovieViral’s most recent RepoCast features an interview with Geneva Conventional along with Lone Shark Games’ Creative Director Teeuwynn Woodruff and hunters Shinma22, fubarcrew, BiggKat77, semisweetCJ, and eviltikimonkey describing Ciji and Usman’s capture, as well as their efforts to catch the other two runners. Additionally, the Repo Men website has released an official statement announcing the capture, raising a number of questions:
How could two runners be so blind (especially as Thornton had a top-of-the-line Ocurity eye) as to miss someone sneaking up on both of them? Didn’t they have a feeling deep inside (perhaps in Usman’s Nephrolux kidney) that they could both be caught doing one of their individual Groundswell tasks? Will Groundswell loosen its restrictions on the other two runners, Alex Gamble and Will LaFerriere—or will the noose tighten even more?
Ciji Thorton is a 26-year old woman with an artificial eye.
Will LaFerriere is a 27-year old former military man with an artificial heart.
Alex Gamble is a 22-year old female with an artificial liver.
And Usman Akeju is a 27-year old software consultant with an artificial kidney.
For the next month, three simple words can cost these four runners $7,500. Any registered hunter in the country can repossess the runner’s artiforg (artificial organ) by getting within speaking distance of them, uttering a three word phrase, receiving their codeword, collecting their artiforg, and calling their Union rep using the runner’s phone. Promoting the upcoming release of the movie Repo Men, this alternate reality game will test the abilities of Ciji, Will, Alex, and Usman to remain undetected against an onslaught of investigative skills from “bounty hunters” nationwide.