An alternate reality game

Synopsis: Tom is an aspiring journalist who blogs about paranormal events that occur in the area where he lives, in the South of England. As he starts investigating a local story related to satanic cults, strange things begin to happen to his entourage...

Weeknight Hit was an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) produced as my final year graduate project for university. ARGs are interactive narratives that use websites and various social networks to deliver a story. The participants make the storyline progress as they interact with the characters of the game or as they solve challenges based on the plot.

The game made use of multiple media platforms, including self-coded websites and social media, in order to construct an alternate universe with its very own characters. For 38 consecutive days, I interacted with the participants, produced narrative content in the forms of videos and blog posts, and created challenges and puzzles for the players. I had to be constantly creative and organised in order to keep up with audience participation, hide clues in places where they could be found, and work on extremely tight deadlines for immersion to be possible.

The characters

British Interactive Media Awards This project was shortlisted for the British Interactive Media Awards 2013 in the student category.

By incorporating Google Analytics in the websites of the game, I was able to track the traffic sources and discovered that most of the viewers came from the Unfiction forums, one of the most popular and almost certainly the largest meeting points for Alternate Reality Gamers on the Internet. Indeed, the forums allow them to compose communities and discuss potential trailheads, clues and solutions to puzzles collectively. One of the viewers had created a thread dedicated to Weeknight Hit because he picked up on the trailhead: I had placed the tag “Alternate Reality Game” on a Tumblr post written by one of the characters. By the end of the game, the forum thread counted over 10,000 views.

I produced the project; edited, directed, filmed over 60 videos using Premiere Pro and After Effects; co-wrote the storyline with a third year student in Scriptwriting for Film and Television, Petter Vilberg. Overall, I collaborated with 8 people on the project, ranging from actors to coders. The following videos explain the creative process behind Weeknight Hit and illustrate examples of narrative challenges that were made during the course of the game and solved by the participants.

The creative process

An introductory video to the Weeknight Hit project.

Challenge

The archive password challenge.

Challenge

The earrach password challenge.