The BBC have bought US TV hit Heroes and in one episode there's a three second clip with a 0800 number on a business card. Phone the number and you’re sucked into an Alternate Reality game (ARG). ARGs are like treasure hunts, where a phone call leads to a TXT message which leads to a website and so on. They go back to the movie AI, and have become part of the viral marketing movement. And don’t think they’re small beer, Halo 2’s ‘ilovebees’ had nearly 2 million players. Pirates of The Caribbean and Dead Man’s Chest also have ARGs. They extend the storyline of the film or TV programme and are likely to become serious extensions to many future films and TV programmes.
An automated answering service directed viewers who called Primatech to apply for a job. Applicants received emails from other employees that, along with text messages, sent them to Web-based puzzles. Once solved, these revealed background details about Mr. Benett's decision to turn against his employer.
Viewers of the online series are asked directly by the show's characters to aid in puzzle-based tasks. (They can also pick up on subtler clues within each episode.) Players who assist the cast are acknowledged on the show; those who publicly reveal clues and answers sometimes end up aiding the show's villains.
The Lost Experience
During the final episodes of season two, Lost creators ran ads for the Hanso Foundation. Viewers who called the onscreen number were routed to a Web site to find a possible Hanso conspiracy. Those who solved the puzzle learned the origin of the Dharma Initiative and other secrets (no, we're not going to reveal them).