The Dark Knight
‘See you in December’
Possibly one of the most insane ARGs ever made, The Dark Knight ARG goes beyond the idea of viral marketing. What made this ARG so appealing were the length (May 2007- June 2009), the engagement, immersion (more than 10 million individual players) and story telling in the game. Even though the game was a marketing strategy, I prefer to look at the game as a way of connecting the first movie, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight while also appreciating hard-core fans of the comics and the movie. In the case of The Dark Knight, all players were citizens of the fictional Gotham City.
Game world: The game was mostly based in America, however the players involved in this game were not limited to the country. Extends all over the world.
Game play: Since this game went on for over a year, there was an insane amount of game play involved. Here is a link that provides a beginners guide to the game play: http://batman.wikibruce.com/Beginners_Guide
In a nutshell the game play involved finding websites such as ‘ibelieveinharveydent.com’ and ‘whysoserious.com’. It also involved phone numbers being written in the sky, players dressed up as the Joker and walking around in the streets, going to landmarks with the make up on and submitting photos of themselves. A newspaper was rewarded to those players. There were also hidden joker phones in cakes, protest in the streets for Harvey Dent, clues leading to exclusive trailers, the bat signal on buildings and a final incentive of premier screening of the movie.
Here is a link of my tumblr post of the video that explains the game play much better then I can: http://vidhisarg.tumblr.com/post/9246477199/this-video-explains-the-entire-game-in-a-nutshell
Game rules: Find all the clues from the joker possible and follow his orders. No specific rules.
Tools: Websites, phone calls, photograph submissions (email), newspaper, bat signal and exclusive trailer.
Agents: All players believed that they were citizens of Gotham City.
Nodes: Websites made by community of players.
Impact: The impact of this game was phenomenal and this can be seen, as The Dark Knight became one of the highest grossing films of all time.
More story-telling than viral marketing
Rallying in the streets, which I hope to incorporate in my ARG
Choice between good and bad, questioning morality
Incentive to play the game
Immersive storytelling techniques used
Portal 2 ARG
Potato Fools Day!
Portal 2 is a puzzle game with to option of co-op playing. Before the release of this much-awaited game, Valve, the company that makes this game took this to their advantage and created Potato Fools Day!On April 1st Valve released a promotional game pack called ‘The Potato Sack’. Clues were hidden within these games. This video that I have posted earlier takes you through the first 7 weeks of the ARG: http://vidhisarg.tumblr.com/post/9247309124/potato-fools-day-portal-2-arg-research-and
Game world: Within games (players can play worldwide), clues being sent out to the players.
Game play: Clues involved Anagrams, puzzles, codes, references that linked between games, office break ins, hidden levels in games, modified thumbnails and more clues within core game files. For those who bought the game pack also received a potato powered lamp hat and a portal 1 pen. To further the quest in the ARG, a Portal comic book was also released. To completely understand the step by step release and finding of clues, visit: http://valvearg.com/wiki/Template:News#older
Tools: Websites, games, forums and parcels being sent to players.
Agents: Clues were hidden within layers of the game, involving many levels of puzzle solving, which is immersive (as it adds to a sense of accomplishment) and it is apt for a game like Portal.
Nodes: Potato Sack gaming bundle
Impact: Players of the ARG received collectable items and this game worked efficiently as a marketing strategy.
The best thing about this ARG is that they have targeted their audience.
They also don’t treat their audience like children and put out extremely difficult clues for players to find.
The ARG was a great marketing strategy, not only for Portal but also for the other games involved in the bundle.
Portal being a puzzle solving game had the theme carry throughout this ARG.
Something In The Sea
Something In The Sea is also another viral marketing ARG released 10 months before the launch of the game, Bioshock 2. The ARG was basically a kidnapping by one of the characters of the game ‘Big Sister’ and the players had to help and finding the girl being kidnapped. To do so they had to solve a number of puzzles and send Mark (who’s daughter is missing) letters. In return they received hand delivered packages from him, which had hidden clues as well. The website interiors (that of Mark’s office) were rebuilt at Comic-Con with working puzzles which led them to other clues. These were messages from the city of Rapture, except they were found in bottles, on seashores all across the world, which led to live manhunt. This took them to San Francisco to find two dead bodies. The story then continued on to the game where the players met the characters all over again.
Game world: Website, comic-con, 10 beaches in the world, San Francisco, 5 countries for live manhunt.
Game play: This video that I posted earlier perfectly explains the game play (and visual cues will help explain this better)
Tools: Website, audio diaries, parcels being hand delivered, sending letters, puzzle solving, on location scavenger hunt, live manhunt, finding clues in bottles on beaches.
Agents: The agency in this game that was most appealing was the live manhunt. People from all over the world ran to the shores to find messages that led them to San Francisco. For 10 months, this ARG had its players on their toes because of the immersive storytelling techniques.
Impact: The game increased the hype before the release of Bioshock 2 and took over a lot of press coverage. Gamers were pleased as they received rare items in the process of the ARG and I think that this ARG was particularly successful for its market.
Like The Dark Knight ARG and the Portal ARG, this game too connects two very intriguing storylines. Storytelling will be an integral part and driving force of my ARG.
I plan to have something very similar to a live manhunt and finding the office of a character and solving puzzles there.