05 June 2008

Is it a game?

In ARGs, fiction pokes into reality - to advertise or entertain

C|Net reporter Daniel Terdiman recently received a package - with the tracking number scratched out - that contained, "a sticker with the words 'Scientific Anarchy Now' and 'Holomove;' a photocopy of a memorandum purportedly from Los Alamos National Lab dated January 30, 1985, regarding the termination of a scientist named Eugene Gough; and lastly, and most disconcertingly, a cut-open package of Emergen-C vitamin C powder." (article)

Sure, go ahead and Google "holomove," or visit their website purporting to have made a holographic video display whose images can physically interact with nearby objects. There's even a (mock) press conference, complete with a demonstration video showing an optical bench and several charmingly but very incorrect details that suggest no optical engineer ever provided input to the Californian PR firm that's believed to have concocted this whole thing. (No, we don't mount mirrors with alligator clips, and through-hole PC boards went out in the 90s.)

This kind of reminds me of Actuality's 3-D display experiments, but - as J-Fav points out - without the weird lab coats.

There are Wikis and web posts of people finding puzzles hidden within the site. There is even a "blog" from a company employee, over, what, a year?, with video posts and everything.

There's the fake VC firm affiliated with Holomove. A recruiting puzzle, too.

What's this teasing for? Who knows. But I think "augmented reality" games and advertisements have the potential to be a deceptively (or consentually) engaging way of getting attention from its observers and participants. Recall EA's "Majestic" video game that faxed and e-mailed its players. A recent Nine Inch Nails album was teased using data on USB sticks that were placed in various restrooms at concert sites. (You can learn more on Wikipedia, or at ARGNet.)

Food for thought, for marketing or for entertainment.

(tip to JohnFP)


ps Reminds me a bit of the 2003 MIT Mystery Hunt alternate-reality kickoff, though J-Fav will razz me for posting that...


Jennifer said...



Jay said...

Did you get a chance to check out the Holografika display? Saw it on Gizmodo.

-J Miller

RLM said...

a couple of *huge* examples of what I think is the same phenomenon: the game created to promote the movie "AI" a few years back, and the "LOST Experience" associated with ABC's "Lost". Both are referenced in the Wikipedia entry for ARGs. Both involved series of fake websites, plus phone numbers and email accounts set up specifically for these games, which people would have to interact with in order to make progress. I played around a little bit with each of these and it was weird how the lines of "reality" got blurred...