Perplex City is a fictional city that has connections with Earth somehow. Their culture is all about puzzles and mind games and they have this event called The Academy Games, which is equivalent to our Olympic Games but using mental strength and not physical strength. They also have an object of great value called “The Receda (reh-kay-duh) Cube” shortened to just “The Cube” which has been stolen and has ended up on earth.
People from Perplex City who interacted with Earth were sisters Scarlett, Violet (through blogs); Pietro Salk an investigative reporter (through online newspaper) and Kurt McAllister and I wasn’t able to discover how he interacted with the players. There was also something called Mind Candy, which sold puzzle cards and it was through these cards that players progressed through the game. The cards held many purposes, not just a puzzle, but some had invisible ink and pieces of maps for other aspects of the game and led to websites and the usual features.
Interesting thing about this ARG is that it wasn’t promoting a movie, TV show or anything. They did make money through selling the puzzle cards, but this might have only been enough to keep the game running. And there was actually a money prize of £100,000 for whoever found “The Cube”.
The game ran from 2005 until 2007 and because of the longevity of it, the game achieved some interesting traits. A book was written by the players and published so that a fictional character from Perplex City could achieve something and a cd was released from a Perplex City musician. Some more ‘normal’ (for an ARG) activities included a banner plane with an access word; an in-game event where one member was revealed as a mole and the actual Perplex City Academy Games was played in both London and New York.
I like this ARG because it was able to incorporate proper mental puzzles in without ruining the ‘This is not a game’ mentality. I think they managed immersion through making Perplex City a puzzle based city and this then represented what the norm was for the players. Other immersion would be through collecting the puzzle cards, because they were like baseball cards where some were more rare than others. But players didn’t just have to buy the cards to participate. They could follow the game online without them. Possibly then, the people who bought the puzzle cards were more immersed, but I don’t really know!
I’m not sure that they employed agency too well because it seems that the only outcome from submitting an answer to a puzzle card were points. I’m assuming that there were other outcomes, you know, ‘the answer from the puzzle you just completed puts another piece of the jigsaw into place’ sort of thing, but I couldn’t find out what they were exactly.