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The Beast - Summary - By Nitin Patel

The Beast - Summary - By Nitin Patel

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Published by webula
A summary of the Alternate Reality Game - The Beast Based on the Movie AI
A summary of the Alternate Reality Game - The Beast Based on the Movie AI

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Published by: webula on Oct 08, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/16/2009

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 The Beast – A Summary by NitinPatel
 This Game was the first to encompass
all 
the major elements of a true
 AlternateReality Game
(ARG).
Beginning the Game
 The Beast was set in the year 2142, fifty years after the events chronicled in
 A.I.(Artificial Intelligence – the Spielberg and Kubrick movie loosely based on Isaac Asimov’s – I Robot series of android stories and Philip Dick’s – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)
  There are 3 overlapping entry points or "rabbit holes.” The sense of entering into amodern day “Alice in Wonderland” topsy-turvy world of intrigue and puzzles isfurther enhanced by the very nature of these challenging entry points into thegame.
1. Some trailers and posters for
 A.I.
had a credit for Jeanine Salla as SentientMachine Therapist hidden among the credits for Spielberg and the actors.
2. One of the trailers encoded a telephone number in markings on thepromotional text; if a player called this number and followed the giveninstructions he/she eventually received an email stating in part that "Jeanineis the key" and that "you've seen her name before."
3. An
 A.I.
promotional poster sent to some technology and entertainmentmedia outlets had a very simple code stating "Evan Chan was murdered. Jeanine is the key."Each rabbit hole led to questions about Jeanine Salla, especially since one wouldnot expect a film made in 2001 to require the services of a robotherapist. Thisgame came into full force around the same time as the very beginnings of powerful search engines and Googling Jeanine brought up several web pages setin the fictional world of the game such as the homepage of Salla's employer,Bangalore World University. Reading Salla's bio page, the player encountered alink to the personal page of Salla's granddaughter, Laia Salla, as well as Jeanine'sphone number. Following these clues leads the player to the homepage of Evanand Nancy Chan, family friends of the Sallas. The player then needed to call an actual phone number, and accessing Jeanine'sphone message revealed that Evan recently died in an alleged boating accidenton his A.I.-enhanced boat, the Cloudmaker. From the beginning some questionthe official story of Evan's death. For instance, on Laia's web page memorial to
 
Evan she writes "He was a superb swimmer. He was a wonderful sailor. He diedon the boat who loved him within sight of land." The incredible writing style andpersonalization of the story line contributes enormously to the enhancedinvolvement of the players.
Elements of Game Play 
 The player is essentially an investigator; using powers of deduction,observation, analysis, networking, puzzle solving and deciphering to solve thecase. After entering the Game through one of the rabbit holes, the player joins the investigation into Evan's death. Over the course of the three monthsthe Beast went on, it incorporated thirty diverse in-game websites, from theAnti-Robot Militia to the Coalition for Robot Freedom; from an architecturalmagazine to a sleep clinic, and from the coroner's office to a hat store. As thegame progressed, the players came across additional mysteries, such as whois killing A.I.-enhanced houses, the location of the sexbot with whom Evanhad an affair, and malfunctions in the weather-control system. By the end of the twelve weeks, players had also had live phone conversations with a gamecharacter and participated in Anti-Robot Militia rallies in New York, Chicago,and Los Angeles. This rich, diverse and stimulating array of incredible contentwas essential to keeping the players motivated to follow the story line.
Content and Story Process
Compelling Storyline – non-interactive, as in the outcome was alreadydetermined by the puppetmasters – but a well thought out and stimulatingstory
Well Built Characters - believable yet interesting and well constructedcharacters
Excellent Multimedia content – high quality video, audio files, emails
Offline Interaction – community gatherings, phone calls, newspaper ads (oneclue consisted of the solution to a chess puzzle in the local newspaper!)
36 separate websites that probably held well over a thousand individualpages of information and images – this was in the blossoming age of theinternet for everyone – more and more people had access to the world wideweb
Vast range of writing styles employed within the game: the diary entries, thecyberpunk mini-story of Martin and Diane's first encounter, the magazinesthat differed wildly in tone
Sense of Continuity – Content Updates were done every Tuesday
 
1. This Reinforces the Community – a rallying point – every Tuesday
2. It Reduces the Strain on Players – one week to catch up to newcontent
3. Reduces the Strain on Programmers – time to build new web pagesand content
 The Hook - "Evan Chan was murdered, and we want to find out why" Drove theGame forward, got players hooked on solving the murder from the verybeginning of the game.
Amazing and challenging puzzles for all levels of puzzle solving abilitiesAn excellent online support forum – and a touchstone for the entire game wasthe Cloudmakers website.
Cloudmakers
was the name of a Yahoo groupcreated to tackle the game,named after Evan's boat. The group had thousands of members at its peakand generated over forty thousand messages amongst players over thecourse of the game. The game was beingdevelopedas it was played. Whilemost players came to the plotlines after they had been solidified, theCloudmakers group was constantly on the cutting edge of the game, pushingthe game's developers and influencing the plot. Warnings and messages sentby Cloudmakers members tocharactersin the story regularly turned up inthe plot, and designs/blueprints anddatabasesproduced by the group werereferenced by and even featured on in-gamewebsitesand magazines (aswere the efforts of a smaller group,
SphereWatch
). After the game, the

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