Tag Archives: Alternate Reality Game

Rabbits Podcast – R U Playing?

A mysterious alternate reality game on a podcast?

Sign me up.
Rabbits is a new podcast series and its description goes –

“When Carly Parker’s friend Yumiko goes missing under very mysterious circumstances, Carly’s search for her friend leads her headfirst into a ancient mysterious game known only as Rabbits. Soon Carly begins to suspect that Rabbits is much more than just a game, and that the key to understanding Rabbits, might be the key to the survival of our species, and the Universe, as we know it.”
New episodes are released twice a month on Tuesdays.

If alternate reality games had a type of mascot – it would definitely be a rabbit. And its a nod to the way how these games start – usually found by chance, like when Alice first fell through a rabbit hole and into a story.

Check out GhostInTheMachine’s blog which has a in depth review of the first episode –
The ‘Rabbits’ Podcast Has Declared “Game On” & The Stakes Are On The Rise

// Other News
The next two weeks are going to be exciting with TWO(!) escape room conferences on with Transworld’s Room Escape Show kicking off tomorrow in Canada.
A/N: Getting back on schedule now, apologies there have’t been many blog posts over the last month.

The last code before finding the Bill Cipher Statue – Polybius – #CipherHunt – Part 2

Catchup: | Prologue | Part 1 – Gravity Falls Cipher Hunt | Part 2 – Gravity Falls Cipher Hunt |

For a week, fans were stuck on the last clue of the Gravity Falls Cipher Hunt.

Until Alex Hirsch, tweeted out a clue –

Fans realized the urban legend arcade game referred to Polybius, a game from the 1980s. The arcade game was described as affecting people – causing them to forget things and have nightmares. According to legend, soon after the game’s release it disappeared. Others say the arcade game never existed and the Wikipedia page is … an interesting read.

The clue pointed fans in the direction of the Polybius square which fans had discussed in the Discord chat room before.

A Polybius square takes two numbers at a time and upon a 5×5 square grid, points to a specific letter. The 5×5 grid is filled with letters from the alphabet (A-Z) and an optional keyword.


Redditor RunningIsFunny assumed the last two letters of the location would be OR, representing the state of Oregon in the US and was able to use reverse decryption to find an answer – REEZABORD, OR. The only location in OR that sounded similar was a place called Reedsport.

Fans utilized Google Maps and discovered a section of Reedsport that lined up perfectly with an earlier map from the Cipher Hunt. Straight away fans headed to the location and discovered what they had been looking for during the past month – the Bill Cipher statue!

Near the Bill Cipher statue, fans discovered a buried treasure chest in the ground and some brave people even shook his hand. The chest contained numerous prizes including a copy of the Gravity Falls Journal 3, a black light, a Mayor of Gravity Falls sash along with fake and real currency. There was also a USB.

Inside the USB there were three items:
– A text file – labeled “Hi” with a link to a twitter account belonging to a person called Bradley. It was later realized this person had stumbled across the Bill Cipher statue before the Cipher Hunt had started then marked some currency left in the treasure chest and added this text file on the USB.
– An audio file from Grunkle Stan encouraging people to shake Bill’s hand and congratulates fans for finding the statue
– Another text file – labeled “MyExWifeStillMissesMe.ButHerAimIsGettinBetter” and inside was this text, RETURNBACKWARDSTOTHEPASTAGAINTHREE

The second text file contained the username and password to access the pilot episode of Gravity Falls.

Pilot of Gravity Falls episode here – http://themysteryofgravityfalls.com/pilot/

The statue of Bill Cipher was found but that wasn’t the end of the adventure.

One day after the statue was found, there was a property dispute about the statue’s location. The Bill Cipher statue was then picked up by Reedsport police and put outside their station. It was then hidden in Bicentennial Park, a mile from the original Reedsport location. Along the way the statue’s hat was lost.

Alex Hirsch tweeted out a message then asking for help to drive the Bill Cipher statue to a new location, five hours away.

As of yesterday, the Bill Cipher statue currently resides at Confusion Hill, a tourist trap located in California. There’s a $5 USD entrance fee and the statue will also get a new hat next week.

As fans of Gravity Falls like to say, see you all next summer! (At Confusion Hill).

– Essa 🙂


What happened this summer when the Gravity Falls fandom found out about #CipherHunt – Part One

Catchup: | Prologue | Part 1 – Gravity Falls Cipher Hunt | Part 2 – Gravity Falls Cipher Hunt |

After the finale of Gravity Falls back in February, fans were left with a mystery on their minds – was there indeed a real stone statue of Bill Cipher hiding in a forest?

After months of silence, a single tweet from the creator of Gravity Falls, Alex Hirsch sparked a massive alternate reality game. From his tweet, fans discovered “#FLSKHUKXQW” shifted back three letters revealed the word #CIPHERHUNT.


From the image attached to the same tweet, fans decoded:
“The urban legend has come true / Cipher’s statue’s calling you / The secret map is in your hand / To trace the clues across the land”, along with “Don’t forget it’s all for pleasure / The hunt itself’s the real treasure / But a prize awaits the first one there / Be safe, be smart, and of course beware” – GF Wikia

Proving that what fans speculated months ago was real – there was a Bill Cipher statue out there waiting to be found.

Also from the image, fans discovered when the red letters were shifted backwards it spelt out the first location – Russia. The location was confirmed as Kazan Cathedral located in St. Petersburg, Russia as the floor plan can be seen.

The clue picked up in Russia referred to the yen, which turned the focus to Japan and the next clue was located in Kanda Myojin Shrine, Tokyo.

The clue from Tokyo referred to the hunter of the fountain of youth – Ponce De Leon and a street name containing his name was found in Atlanta, Georgia in the US.

A fan discovered a damaged poster for a missing pig, Waddles – the cartoon pig which appears on Gravity Falls. On the poster was a puzzle and a phone number, when the number was reversed a voice recording could be heard.

Fans listened to Grunkle Stan, who advised them to check a university location at Rhode Island. Behind the picture of Sister Mary Hilda Miley the next clue was suppose to be located but the game ran into problems when the clue was discovered to be missing.

Alex Hirsch stepped in and tweeted to fans to re-call the last phone number, where another recording of Grunkle Stan played. “A man who’s first name is his last, a statue honouring his past …” hinted to fans they should head to Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

When the Griffith Park clue was picked up it mentioned, “50 + 50 that’s the city .. you’ll find a bow tie and one eye ..” which led to Century Park, Los Angeles. When the park is viewed from above, there’s a pyramid shape and two buildings beneath that look like a bow tie – similar to what the character Bill Cipher looks like.

A USB was found inside the park with a voice recording pointing to the next clue – hidden inside the California State Summer School of the Arts, where only students could enter the building’s sublevel to retrieve the next clue.

Scribbled on the wall were two hex codes that were decoded to lead on to the co-ordinates of Piedmont, California. Fans discovered a key tied to a tree stump and a locked container, revealing a PO box (27128) at 1825 N. Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles.

Out of the PO box emerged a monster jigsaw puzzle made of 2,000 pieces. Fans on the ground worked on the physical puzzle and upon completion, the Gravity Falls pilot episode would be made available* (*more on this later). There was also a virtual puzzle that online users could contribute to. And this was only day four!

When enough of the puzzle was put together the code on it was translated to the address: Corner of Rodney & Tillamook, Portland in Oregon. At the spot, fans discovered a lawn gnome that led to the tourist trap, Confusion Hill in California.

Inside the Confusion Hill shop, an eyeball jar found on a shelf held the next clue – which showed the next location as Stanley St, Amity in Oregon where a geocache was discovered.

The geocache in turn led to a theme park, Enchanted Forest in Turner, Oregon. A fan discovered a ripped puzzle piece that decoded to: “Return to where it all began / The final clue is in your hand / The parchment can be such a tease / The answer’s written in the trees” – GF Wikia

The finale clue led fans back to the original tweet which started the entire Cipher Hunt. There at the bottom of the image was a drawing of the Bill Cipher statue surrounded by trees.


How to decode the branches and trees? Fans were stumped for days.

Next: Part 2 – Gravity Falls Cipher Hunt

– Essa 🙂

Welcome to Nerve – a movie about a geo-location game, the Gravity Falls ARG and other escape room news

“Welcome to Nerve – a game like Truth or Dare, minus the Truth. Watchers pay to watch. Players play to win cash and glory. Are you a player or a watcher? Are you a watcher or a player?”

Nerve is a new movie about a fictional mobile game where people who are “watching” the game can issue dares. All the dares have a monetary bounty and a time limit to complete the dare by. Starring Emma Roberts as Vee and Dave Franco as Ian, the characters accept dares and then live stream the results to prove they did them.

The dares start off easy – kiss a stranger for five seconds, try on a dress in a shop – but over time the dares that Vee and Ian are given become more dangerous. Vee tries to call the police as she realises the game has become dangerous and her identity gets stolen by the “watchers”.

“This is a game. The only way out is to win.”

There’s already something similar to Nerve called YouDareTo, where strangers post tasks and put a monetary value on it. After someone accepts the task, they need to record themselves and post a video of it online.

The Gravity Falls fandom is in the middle of an alternate reality game (ARG) with clues found in Russia, Japan and across the US. The whole adventure is to find a stone statue of Bill Cipher located somewhere in the US.

There’s been no progress on the final clue, which is the lower half of this image with the trees and the statute. Also Alex Hirsch, the creator of Gravity Falls may release a clue on his Twitter account on Monday. Join the Gravity Falls ARG discussion on Discord here and I’ll be writing a blog post about the entire ARG hunt once the statue is found. #cipherhunt

Lock Me If You Can mentioned on their blog there’s a current Australian puzzle hunt to promote the new Netflix series, Stranger Things which runs until August 4th with prizes involved!

The Room Escape Diva’s latest podcast takes them to the upcoming Transworld’s Room Escape Conference in Chicago from August 12th-14th and to chat with the organisers behind it.

– Essa 🙂

Earth Key found, the game plays on with EndGame: Sky Key starting October 20th

Went to the local bookstore looking for another book and walked out instead with a copy of Sky Key – the second novel in the EndGame series.

In the EndGame novels, there are twelve characters each representing a different line of people chosen to play a game to save the entire human race and earth. Along with the main story there are puzzles printed within the novel which lead into an online treasure hunt. The first person to solve all the puzzles wins a large cash prize. To catch up on Intervirals’ writeup of the first EndGame novel – click here.

What happened with EndGame: The Calling (or the first novel)?
Last week the EndGame authors travelled to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to award astrophysicist Froylan Moreno with the $500,000 cash prize. Here’s an article on Moreno winning the prize but it’s interesting to see that Masquerade by Kit Williams was an inspiration for one of the EndGame authors.

But there’s another novel?
Yes! Just released on October 6th, Sky Key is the next novel in the series and has been released by HarperCollins.

What’s October 20th then?
That’s the official date when the EndGame: Sky Key online treasure hunt begins, which means there’s six days to finish reading the second novel and get a head start on cracking those puzzles.

Can I win a million dollars this time?
Uh, unfortunately not – the prize pool seems to have dwindled since last time. While reports last year pointed to an increased prize pool – $1 million for the second novel and $1.5 million for the third novel – it doesn’t look to be true. In the terms and conditions of the Sky Key novel, there’s a $250,000 prize pool with the winner only receiving $100,000 and subsequent runner ups getting smaller cash prizes.

How do I start the Sky Key online treasure hunt?
Good question. Still trying to figure that one out too.

On page four there’s an image of a lined notebook with an encrypted string of characters.

Essa 🙂

Your mission should you choose to accept it: Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation escape room tours American cities

Numerous red strings crisscross the oceans and countries displayed on a large wall map while black and white photos of suspects are placed around its border. On the opposite wall, numerous clocks with red lettering blink while another wall holds several walkie talkies in place, ready to be picked up at a moment’s notice.

The team behind Mission Impossible: Rouge Nation have created a safe house escape room experience located in four American cities – New York, Boston, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Located in an IMF agent safe house, participants in teams of six only have 20 minutes before their secure location is no longer safe. They need to collect as much information and get out of the house before time runs out. It’s a free experience and while the event has already passed through New York and Boston, the next stop is San Francisco tomorrow.


From July 25th to 27th, the experience will be held at the San Francisco AMC Metreon IMAX cinema. At the moment there’s a typo on the front webpage for San Francisco – the experience will be there on Monday July 27th and there’s still a few spaces left for Saturday, Sunday and pretty much all of Monday looks to be available for bookings. A quick calculation estimate puts it at 200+ free tickets still available for San Francisco while the last stop on the tour – Los Angeles – has already been booked out .

The Rogue Nation part of the movie’s title refers to a group of agents banding together to create a new nation built on the foundation of attacks the group carry out. Who can you trust? See more images of the escape room here.

Mission Impossible Escape Room:

Speaking of secret agents, the second Bond trailer for the upcoming Spectre was recently released. Back in 2012, there was a Skyfall mini alternate reality game called Bird watching in Innsbruck. Packages were sent out to a few ARG sources that lead to a website, puzzles hidden in the source code and an interactive game with 5 mission levels. Considering Spectre will be released this November 2015, hopefully something similar emerges again.

Players Wanted: Are you ready to play? A brief summary of The Game (1997 movie)


The Game (movie)

It all started with a business card labelled Consumer Recreation Services being passed across a dinner table.

Conrad is worried about his brother Nicholas Van Orton (played by Michael Douglas) who is about to celebrate his 48th birthday – the same age their father died of suicide. The brothers are having dinner one night when Conrad passes a business card over the table and asks Nicholas to ring the phone number. He tells Nicholas that he purchased a game voucher from a company called Consumer Recreation Services and before he leaves he mentions it will change his life.the_game2

Curiosity is a powerful feeling and eventually Nicholas visits the offices of Consumer Recreation Services to find out more. Arriving at the office he’s greeted with various exams he must undertake including medical checkups and psychological testing.
Unfortunately Nicholas finds out afterwards that his application to play the game has been denied.

Wondering what happened to cause his application to be rejected – Nicholas then meets Christine, who tells him that her safety was at risk while playing one of Consumer Recreation Services’ games. Soon after Conrad appears to Nicholas and tells him the company is after him too and endangering his life. However both characters are really working with CRS and Nicholas is actually playing the game in real-time within reality without realising it at first.

“The game is tailored specifically to each participant. Think of it as a great vacation, except you don’t go to it, it comes to you.” – IMDB

I won’t spoil the rest of the movie but some other memorable moments include – hundreds and thousands of golden keys pouring out of mail boxes and a vandalised house with a creepy doll clown waiting inside with a message.

Leave a comment if you have watched or have heard about The Game (1997 movie) starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn before.

Essa 🙂

DIG Escape The Room: a new tv series and immersive experience in the USA and online #DigDeeper


Dig Escape The Room: Ready to start digging? #DigDeeper

A murdery mystery involving a FBI agent located in Israel who needs to figure out a conspiracy that might change history forever is the storyline for the new tv series DIG, premiering on US television from Thursday March 5th. To promote the series before it airs – USA Network have developed a FREE (yes, FREE!!) room escape experience at select locations across the US from February 26th to March 8th. There are five locations where you can attend the DIG room escape promotion: New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Universal Studios Hollywood* in California and Universal Orlando Resort* in Florida.

* To attend the DIG room escape experience at the Universal locations, you need to buy a ticket to the relevant theme park to gain entry. It’s also a first come, first serve experience at both Universal locations. dig_decoded2

At each location up to ten people will be locked in a room for only 30 minutes, find clues, solve puzzles and get out of the room within the time list. Last time I checked (9am NYC time on Feb 20th) there were roughly 82 tickets left for New York City, 590+ tickets left for Boston and 490+ tickets at the Philadelphia location – with ticket registration only opened on February 19th. Get your free DIG room escape tickets at this link: http://digescapetheroom.com/

If you can’t make it to a US location – there’s an online DIG experience called Dig Decoded available to be played here http://digdecoded.usanetwork.com/. There’s already some parts of the experience online – you can sign up and look through Emma’s journal and crack some codes among the pages. On page three of her journal, there’s a code when deciphered leads participants to this helpful in-game website – http://www.decipherdemon.com/ – which helps explain how to solve some of the other codes scattered throughout the journal.

Starting March 5th as well, three word puzzles will be released each week for ten weeks on the Dig Decoded website. Solve each puzzle to get a code and enter the code to gain a competition entry. One person can submit up to 32 competition entries (online or via mail) during the whole experience, with the major prize a holiday for up four people to either Israel, Croatia or Norway plus breakfasts, day trips and $500 cash to the winner. Unfortunately the major prize can only be won by US residents.

Leave us a comment below if you visit a DIG room escape experience in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, California or Florida. Otherwise what do you think of the DIG online experience?


Following the rabbit: Consider this your rabbit hole to the world of alternate reality games.


Happy Valentine’s Day! Since today is all about love and things you enjoy, I decided to write up an introduction article on one of my interests – alternate reality games.

What is an alternate reality game?
An alternate reality game (or ARG) is a type of transmedia storytelling. Pieces of the story are revealed slowly through challenging puzzles across various types of media and often the characters of the story believe that they themselves are real. ARGs have also been described as a type of playable fiction.

Characters can send a Facebook friend request, become a follower on your Twitter account or even send packages in the mail. In return, participants can often email characters, find the website of the company the character works for or perhaps even ring the company if they have set up a phone number. The online space where an alternate reality game is played can be undefined, with no boundaries, so the limits between reality and fiction aren’t always easy to find.

The game is created by an unknown person/s called a puppetmaster, who crafts the story in a place simply referred to as “behind the curtain”. An ARG begins when a participant first finds a rabbit hole (or trailhead), which is the participant’s first contact with the game and sets up the protagonist’s backstory and the world in which the game takes place in. A participant can find a rabbit hole by chance such as discovering a mysterious website that needs further investigation but often when a game launches the puppetmaster attracts notice to a rabbithole by sending out emails or creates a mysterious Twitter follower.

There are two main types of ARGs: corporate and grassroots campaigns. Corporate campaigns are run by companies with large advertising budgets to promote a specific product, service or movie. While grassroots campaigns are designed by individuals or smaller teams of people.

How do I start playing an alternate reality game?
I recommend visiting the Unfiction forums (www.unfiction.com) as they have a collection of forum topics where people post rabbit holes they have found. Choose a rabbit hole and just start participating in the forum conversation – you’ll soon find yourself in the middle of an alternate reality game. Or catchup on ARG related news over at (http://www.argn.com/).

Essa 🙂

Unlock End Game: What’s End Game: The Calling and solve the clues which lead to a $500,000 treasure key

end game - ancient truth and the calling

Intervirals Spotlight: The Unlocked Series
Here’s Part Two of Intervirals’ discussion into End Game: part alternate reality game, part armchair treasure hunt. Or check out yesterday’s Part One blog to see what we’re talking about from the beginning.

What is End Game: The Calling?end game - book
The 480 page novel written by James Frey, published by HarperCollins and where the actual events of End Game begin to emerge plus further back story is revealed. It turns out there are twelve ancient societies who each choose a person between the ages of 13 to 20 to represent them. Once the chosen person turns 20, the society selects a new End Game player for their blood line.

At any one time, there are twelve chosen people selected to play End Game and who await for the day where a signal comes for the game to start. In turn, twelve meteorites approach Earth at the same time hurtling over the skies and crash land near enough to each of the twelve players to indicate to them – End Game has officially started.

What is actually End Game?
The twelve chosen players must search the world over for three hidden keys – the first player to discover all three keys wins End Game. However the first player is also the last alive player standing, as they must eliminate the eleven other competitors by using training tactics they have learnt while growing up. In addition, the winner of End Game saves their ancient society and blood line from destruction.

Where do I fit into End Game: The Calling and what about the $500,000 key?
In association with the novel, there is also clues hidden throughout it which when solved leads to additional puzzles and websites on the internet. You, the reader must solve the clues, discover the websites and you’ll get the chance to find a key which will lead to a $500,000 prize on display at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, USA. There’s a 24/7 livestream of the prize here if you’re curious.

If you solve the clues in the second End Game novel, there’s a chance to win $1,000,000 million in prize money and another chance to win $1,500,000 million in prize money if you solve the clues throughout the third novel. Both these novels have not been published as of yet, only the first novel has been published.

How do I start my treasure hunt for the $500,000 key?
Here’s the starting point for End Game: The Calling – https://keplerfuturistics.com/
– You will also need a Gmail account to register your participation in the game, so the organisers can find you if you win the end prize and probably a copy of the novel too.

Final Notes
The end game is for the alternate reality game, the novels and the mobile app game to all pull together in a few years to create the overall End Game universe and experience for players.

“Endgame is real. Endgame is now. Endgame has begun.”

end game - map

Is anyone following End Game: Ancient Truths or End Game: The Calling? How have you found the experience? Share your thoughts below. Or check out the forums here.

– Essa 🙂

Sources for End Game:

Part of The Unlocked Series @ Intervirals.