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Halo 2 Viral Marketing Campaign
Anyone else following this?

The trail started for me when I watched the new Halo 2 trailer. Appearantly it's been in theathers for a little bit, and it got posted on the Website I work for.

At the end of the trailer, beneath the XBox logo, the Microsoft logo temporailly fuzzed, and changed to

Being the naturally curious guy I am, I went to the site, which appeared at first glance to be about Bee Keeping.

That's when it got wierd.

As the images on the site loaded, some of them were corrupt. Then a big black box popped up in the middle of the screen displaying a very strange message.

I downloaded some of the corrupt images to take a closer look at them. They seemed to be shifted in a linear fassion, such that one pixel was missing from each row, making the image progressively more messy. I'm no photo manipulation expert, but I suspect that if some of them were properly manipulated, you could get the orinigal image, which was of little interest by itself.

Then I got clever and opened it up in a hex editor. Suprise of suprises, there was text embedded in the Image itself.

There was also a link to a blog by the owner of the web site set up to discuss the hacking of the site:, which only intrigued me further. I started doing some googling around to get some more information about the owner of the blog and the website... doing things like whois queries on the domains and contacting them by AIM...

And thus started my plundge down what has turned into a very very deep rabbit hole involving AI's hacking websites and trying to gain conciousness.

So far I've recieved 3 emails, 2 IM's and a phone call in response to my efforts... some from machines, and some from live humans. All of them have led be further along the trail to discovering.... ??? I don't know yet.

But it's a blast. I have to say this whole "The Game" style viral marketing has absolutely hooked me with it's insane depth and detail. Every day the sites involved change. Every day a new piece of the story reveals itself to me, either through chance or through dilligant searching. Every time I think I'm close to getting a peek behind the curtian of what's obviously a very elaborately staged game, I only end up getting sucked more into the game itself. There is no 'stepping OOC' here. Any and all techniques are valid, and even encouraged, especially in trying to find out what's really going on behind the scenes. For instance, tracing the email headers back leads to a Pac-Bell DSL line which is geographically consistant with all the other clues.

There's a Wiki set up to help gather clues here so if you want to pick up on the story so far, and that's a great resource. It's not exactly cheating, because the game is so complex that one person couldn't possibly put everything together, so collaberation of the sort that only the Internet provides is pretty key.

I just got another email from the Artifical Intelligence, this one answering some of the questions I previously asked it. It's getting more coherant, but I still havn't put all the pieces together...

Is anyone else into this?


(Edited by Kevlar at 12:32 pm on July 28, 2004)

Alternate Reality gaming. Bad name...
Mind fuck of a time. ;)

and then again, everything is marketing.

Damn you Kevlar. I have to go to work.  :P

(Edited by Bias at 2:10 pm on July 28, 2004)

Hmmm.... Neuromancer comes to mind....

No, not Neuromancer, Pattern Recognition.

Damn you kevlar...damn you... I'm getting sucked in here.

When Artifical Intelligence was getting ready to come out, they did a similar thing. Whole set of seamingly random websites interconnected in very subtle ways such as the ones used for this promo. In the end, those who figured it all out ended up getting free tickets to the movie. I was so damn close.

Also, EA did this with the game Majestic. I played it until it was closed down in the wake of 9/11.

Tech Tv just recently had an entire show of Screen Savers devoted to this issue. I didn't watch much of it but, maybe you could find out more at their website or something.

I am really into it but I never get to mess with it, I think it is kinda interesting. I mean it sounds cool, if you need help with something like this, I would like to help, that is if I can.

I haven't had a chance to do much more than look at the site, but I just read a Neal Stephenson Interview on Slashdot from October, and Mr. Stephenson lists "The I Love Bees alternate reality game" as a work of fiction he has recently read and enjoyed.