MATE: Mystery at The Edge, an Alternate Reality Game

Mystery at The Edge Symbol

I’m glad you found this note…I can’t tell you my name, but I am a researcher of Zoinksman Inc. in the field of virology research. I cannot approach the authority without incriminating myself and I require your help.

I am trying to prevent the release of a ^w#%$ q@
— DATA CORRUPTED —
#4 monkeys.

The relevant document on this aforementioned incident has fallen into the hands of an Edge user, that will provide some insight. Find him and CHECK with him, MATE.


ARGs at The Edge

As part of the Games: Body and Console program at The Edge in Brisbane a series of workshops were run by the very talented Deb Polson on how to create and facilitate an Alternate Reality Game. We formed a team and like all good ARGs we picked a zombie theme, combined it with elements from our favourite mystery solvers cartoon and over a number of weekly workshops we concocted a back story that tied in to the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse ARG event. A backstory was formed based around the release of a virus that coincided with the event to maximise infection and a set of puzzles placed at the Edge needed to be solved in order to stop the antagonist. The aim was to encourage players to explore and discover the Edge space and to meet new people.

The Game

The game was designed in a way that players had to find three separate reports that provided a backstory (the WHO, WHAT and WHEN) and then complete an incident report to alert the staff of what was going to happen and ultimately save the day (and humanity)!

On the day players were greeted at The Edge by one of the team posing as a staff member and were alerted of a break in that occurred a number of nights ago. They were told that nothing was stolen however strange messages were left in a few places accompanied by the symbol of a chess pawn. As The Edge staff had their hands full preparing for the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse ARG they needed the players help to solve the mystery.

IMGP1026Players were then told to start at the public whiteboards as messages were left there. One whiteboard had a ROT13 cipher and the other whiteboard had a message to be decrypted saying “reception mate1.txt”.

The message pointed to the public computer at the reception and in particular to a file on it which held the text:


I’m glad you found this note…I can’t tell you my name, but I am a researcher of Zoinksman Inc. in the field of virology research. I cannot approach the authority without incriminating myself and I require your help.

I am trying to prevent the release of a ^w#%$ q@
— DATA CORRUPTED —
#4 monkeys.

The relevant document on this aforementioned incident has fallen into the hands of an Edge user, that will provide some insight. Find him and CHECK with him, MATE.


IMGP0973Players then had to find another team member with a chessboard. When they talked to him they were asked to play and once they checkmated him they received a security report outlining details of the break in. It also pointed them to an egg shaped chair where the following clue was left:


— DATA CORRUPTED — #$@#ltimately, Zoinksman Inc. plans to release the JEZK-virus that will turn anyone in contact with it into a reanimated corpse. This allows them to earn ludicrous amounts of profit by having a vaccine for JEZK-virus for sale.

I need to go, before Zoinksman Inc. finds my hideout.

— DATA CORRUPTED — @#qwer

What goes up, must come down, and then up again… and then down…


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Once the players worked out that the clue was talking about the lift they headed to the only lift in the building and waited for it to arrive. After they entered the lift the doors closed behind them and revealed another clue, a URL, that was cut in half and stuck to either side of the lift door. This url pointed them to the final clue which contained the text:


JEZK release is scheduled to be done during the Zombie Climate Apocalypse Game event on 17 December 2011 at The Edge, South Bank. The event is expected to gather around 5000 participants and provides enough critical mass to create a Level-6 zombie outbreak. The Zombie Climate Apocalypse game will also provide the perfect cover to reduce people’s awareness towards the initial symptoms of JEZK virus.

PLEASE DO NOT LET THEM SUCCEED, THE FATE OF HUMANI&%%$(_+% — DATA CORRUPTED —
bit.ly/edge-report


IMGP1015After collecting the three different parts of the backstory the players had enough information to submit an incident report online and save the day! They were instructed to return to the staff to let them know what was going to happen and receive a reward and certificate for their efforts.

On the day
We had about 10 groups of players total play the game with ages ranging from about 6 to 50. It took the groups on average about 20 minutes to complete and only one group didn’t complete the game fully. Like all good ARGs should we ran into some issues but these were solved pretty quickly with a speedy design change and a reprint of the incident reports.

BAM! Overall a success and thanks to the players The Edge is now safe from the Zombie attack. We can all safely prepare now for the upcoming Zombie Climate Apocalypse Game at The Edge.

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