Category Archives: Current ARGs

The Dark Knight Rising ARG is trending

Wanted poster for The Dark Knight Rises ARG

The Dark Knight Rises is due out on July 20th, and as the successor to a movie that spawned one of the longest running ARGs, I was quite expecting this movie to have a viral campaign of its own. However, three months away from the release date, and I’ve heard very little ARG-like buzz about the movie. In fact, I was wondering if there even was an ARG for the movie until I stumbled upon an article that was “trending” on Facebook. I’m pretty sure that just means that Warner Brothers or Yahoo is paying Facebook to put it on their page, not that people are actually talking about it.

As a side note, I never click on article links through Facebook anymore. It’s always asking for me to sign in through Facebook to read the article. I don’t need everyone to know that articles I’m reading. For me, that’s a step too far. So I found the Yahoo article by just Googling it.

After reading the article, I decided to do some digging on the ARG to see if I had just missed the information on its launch.It doesn’t seem as though that is the case. I searched the handy source ARGnet only to discover that the site has only mentioned the game for the movie once in its 2011 review of ARGs. Here is what the blog had to say:

In May, signs of a full-fledged campaign for The Dark Knight Rises were promising, as an audio file on the film’s homepage contained a hidden message leading to the Twitter account thefirerises and a corresponding hashtag. Followers who used the hashtag had their profile picture inserted into a mosaic photograph of Bane. This strategy was akin to an early phase in Why So Serious, where players unlocked pixels in the Joker’s iconic Glasgow smile by submitting their email addresses. However, when a number of faux CIA documents were leaked to Empire and Wired.com’s Underwire blog, the payoff was the ability to transfer GPS coordinates over to the early access to the Operation Early Bird website for tickets to a six-minute preview of the film. Again, this move took a page from the Why So Serious playbook, as players during the Step Right Up phase of the campaign won tickets to an advance screening of the first few minutes of the film. But while The Dark Knight Rises is working from the same playbook, the substance is sorely lacking. The most compelling content to come out of the campaign so far has been the fan-produced Mumble Bane Twitter account, poking fun at the villain’s practically unintelligible dialogue.

This is kind of disappointing news for ARG fans and followers. Why So Serious? was a widely successful game, reaching thousands of people all over the world and creating all kinds of excitement for The Dark Knight‘s release. I was really expecting this next installment to continue the ARG path for movie promotion. The fact that it didn’t is slightly discouraging. It doesn’t make any sense that Warner Brothers didn’t think that the ARG wasn’t successful, because it reached so many people and created so much excitement. The game clearly did its job. However, I have never seen any financial information on the game. Even if it was successful, maybe the cost of such a monumental game was too much for the studio.

However, it does seem as though there some sort of an ARG, just not nearly on the same scale as Why So Serious? The poster that the Yahoo article mentioned is pictured above. At the bottom, it looks to have a hashtag for getting involved in the game. While this game might not be as huge as its predecessor, getting involved might get you some unreleased goodies from the studio before the movie is released.

Update on Lovely Molly ARG

A few posts ago, I talked about the ARG for the Haxan film Lovely Molly. However, it seems as though the current game was originally supposed to be much bigger and more indepth than its current version. According to ARGNet, “due to the film’s limited budget, plans for a full-fledged game fell through. The decision to abandon the film’s more immersive plans was a difficult one, so Lovely Molly‘s director Ed Sanchez edited together a video detailing the alternate reality game that could have been.”

This is very interesting in several ways. One, ARGs cost money. A lot of money. The fact that this film had to cancel its ARG due to budget can tell you that. It’s really unfortunate that all of these ideas were had for this game, and now they won’t come to fruition.

Secondly, and I think most important, this video that Sanchez edited together gives us a really rare insight into ARG production. I can tell you from an entire year of game design research that any kind of explanation or behind-the-scenes look at an ARG is extremely rare. In some cases this is good because the game is supposed to be all behind the scenes and not supposed to reveal itself to the players. On the other hand, this is really detrimental to those studying ARGs (*ahem*) because we have no follow up information on the games, just introduction information. Only major games are really ever really reported on, and even those have limited information.

The games that I can think of that had any kind of followup information was I Love Bees, which Jane McGonigal wrote about several times after its launch, The Beast, which Jane McGonigal wrote the article “This is Not a Game” (really awesome article, by the way), and a few YouTube videos were made about Why So Serious? and Perplex City.

So watch this video that Sanchez put together for a really rare glimpse of inside an ARG.

Lovely Molly Launches ARG-like Campaign

Alright, so it’s not exactly an ARG, but it does sound like it has ARG-like elements. Lovely Molly is a film by Haxan Films, which released the cult hit The Blair Witch Project thirteen years ago. Like their previous hit, Lovely Molly has the premise of being “found footage.”

ARGNet writer Michael Andersen received a package by the marketing people of Lovely Molly, presumably supposed to be a launch point of viral marketing campaign put together to promote the movie. As we’ve seen in games like I Love Bees and The Lost Ring, sending prominent bloggers starting packages with game clues is a great way to launch the game. You get Big Name Fans (a term from fandoms, technically, but I feel as though this works here too) to talk about your game and product, passing along the information to followers. It’s a great way to disseminate information, and has clearly worked for previous games.

You can read about the full contents of the package Andersen received here, but some of the items included photographs and a large carved disc. The back of the disc reads “Lovely Molly invites you to descend into depravity. Rewards like this await the first five. Simple symbols await a score.”

No idea what that means, but I’m intrigued. It seems as though the key words of the game are going to be “descent” and “depravity,” which helps to set the tone of the spooky film. The message leads to LovelyMolly.com/Descent.htm. So are you ready to descend into depravity?

“Real Escape Game”: Totally My Cup of Tea

Okay so this. This is awesome. This reminds me a bit of the game that I just designed except on a much larger and harder scale. You can see the gist of the game in the video, but essentially players gather in a large enclosed area, such as a large building or sports stadium, and have to solve puzzles and riddles in order to move on through the different locations in the building, eventually leading to outside of the building, therefore escaping.

This is super awesome, and something like this is totally the kind of project that I would love to be involved with. It’s clever, it’s got enthusiastic people in it.

A full article about the game is here on ARGnet. Check it out! The American debut of this game is coming soon!

Becoming Peter Parker

The Amazing Spider-Man does an ARG

One ARG that I’ve been hearing about recently is the one in connection to The Amazing Spider-Man which I believe is being dubbed The Mark of Spider-Man. I produce a student-run show at Trinity University and one of my hosts actually covered a story on this a few weeks ago. I was too busy directing the segment to catch her entire story, but I was so pleased that ARGs were getting some coverage even at a very local level.

Anyways, ARGNet wrote up a great little summary of what’s been going on in the game so far, so if you haven’t heard of it, make sure to check it out. They also point towards Unfiction for more discussion as to what’s going on with this game. In the coming days, I’m hoping to loop back to this and do a more detailed discussion on this game, because I really love the idea of it, especially the clue in the trailer, an homage I think to The Beast. But really, how awesome would it be to open up a backpack and find Peter Parker’s stuff in there? I can’t even imagine. I think superhero tie-ins to ARGs are always so cool because the people who are going to play these games are already invested in it because they love the story already. It’s a great way to promote the movie, and I’m looking forward to seeing more.