CNN.com: Warner Bros. is set to make its first foray into the burgeoning online gaming world with a pay-to-play game version of its film franchise “The Matrix,” Variety reports.
Cool! I still think that the semi-underground campaign for A.I. last summer was the way this kind of online counterpart to a movie ought to be done.
For those that didn’t play, the idea was simple: the TV ads for A.I. included quasi-subliminal hints (in one, the name “ Jeanine Salla” is listed as the “Sentient Machine Therapist” in the credits; if you did a Google search on her name, you were in the game). Once you started searching, you uncovered web sites that appeared to be set in the future, clues about how to “hack” into e-mail belonging to key characters, and even real phone numbers that had recorded voicemail messages that provided further clues. This was all designed to lead you on a journey to discover who murderer Evan Chan. The campaign was organized by Warner Brothers; it led to a volunteer community that called themselves Cloudmakers to coordinate efforts of thousands of online gamers.
At the time, it was thrilling: nobody knew what it had to do with the A.I. movie (not much, as it turned out – just a clever conceptual tie-in), and nobody was talking. The clues kept turning up: in ads in the New York Times (which, when paired with ads in the L.A. Times, produced another clue). In trailers. On the web. The web sites that were part of the game changed frequently – suggesting that you were living this adventure in real time.
It was viral marketing in the purest sense – and I (and thousands of others) was hooked. It was mysterious, engaging, and completely different. (Come to think of it, kind of like The Matrix.) I’m most excited about the fact that Warner Brothers was behind the A.I. campaign – and with the creative energy of the Wachowski brothers in tow, this should prove to be a thoroughly engaging adventure.
Sign me up!