If you know me at all, you know that I’m a completely obsessed fan of ABC’s mind-bending, time-jumping, crazyfest LOST. In fact, I’m such a LOST geek, they even let me ask Damon and Carlton a question in a video podcast this Spring.
As a new media geek and storyteller at heart, I also love Alternate Reality Games (ARGs). In addition to LOST’s previous two ARGs (The Lost Experience and Find815), movies such as The Bourne Ultimatum, and video games like Halo (ILoveBees) have used the format to successfully create great viral buzz and engagement. (In fact, I got to participate in a viral campaign at my previous job that was very ARG-like, although I can’t really talk about it. Suffice it to say it was very cool.)
So of course, when I saw the “commercial” for Octagon Global Recruiting during the season finale, I was all over it, and managed to wait out the server crush to sign up.
Today I got my first email from Octagon.
It basically confirms that LOST, and some element of the new Octagon-related ARG will be at Comic-Con in San Diego July 24, 2008. Not surprising, since the show typically has a presence at Comic-Con. Last year, they revealed a new Dharma Orientation video that hinted at this season’s time travelling bunnies, and prior to that, a character from their first ARG turned up and started protesting the Hanso Group at the Con.
The email also indicated that even if you were unable to attend their “recruiting session” at Comic-Con, their “full recruiting program” would be available online after July 27th. The email also mentions an “exciting aptitude test” to give applicants a chance to show off their “unique talents.”
The email was cc:d to a “Hans Van Eeghen,” which is a name that simply screams “Anagram!” but I don’t have the time to unscramble it. An email to his address prompted an out-of-office reply stating he was “currently on assignment in the field.” I expect to be hearing from Mr. Eeghen at some point this summer.
An ARG is a complex game that sometimes blurs the line between fantasy and reality. ARGs strive for an immersive interactive experience where the players feel as if they are involved in a real adventure or mystery that takes place via multiple communications media: web, email, IM, phone calls, voice mails, text messages, and in some cases, real-world events (like a character from the story turning up at Comic-Con).
When it comes to audience engagement, it doesn’t get much deeper or more powerful than an ARG. They’re incredibly complex and involved to pull off, but when done well, particularly for a traditional media property like a movie or television show, they give the most ardent fans an opportunity to feel like they’ve literally jumped into the fictional world alongside their heroes and heroines.
To find out more detailed information about ARGs, check out unfiction.com.
img courtesy mzacha on sxc.hu