Double Twenty recently wrapped an alternate reality game (ARG) for fans of the upcoming Hellboy II – The Golden Army film directed by Guillermo Del Toro. The transmedia property submerses players around the globe into a world of conspiracy and mystical adventure, using online interactivity, live action, live events, and print, all fused together in a non-linear mystery story. Double Twenty’s Matt Wolf, a gaming industry veteran, was approached by Universal Pictures to create and produce the entire concept, storyline, game environment, and original content for the property. The previous ARG created by Wolf won a Primetime Creative Arts Emmy in 2007 for Outstanding Interactive for the property surrounding ABC Family’s Fallen mini-series.
The ARG, called The Secret Device, launched in April, serving as a highly-interactive gaming experience and promotional tool to generate additional interest in the Hellboy II film property, which will be released in July. The first content released surrounded a mysterious organization called Humans for the Ethical Treatment of Fairies, Elves, and Trolls (www.hetfet.org), which ties directly into the Hellboy storyline. This served as the interactive hub for players, with a series of additional web assets (www.lexilloyd.com, www.thesecretdevice.com & www.panatrog.org) launching new pieces of the unfolding story. After opening the initial self-cracking lock, players collaboratively scoured for codes hidden in videos, news stories, photos, limericks, email, phone messages, and forums, also using YouTube, Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter to solve a series of interconnected puzzles. The investigative gaming process unfolds in real-time as more clues, codes, and supporting content gradually become available and are shared across the community. Players pieced together the final clues in early June, unlocking an intricate online device that launched the world premiere of an original animated Hellboy II prologue comic, also delivering a chance to win a trip to an early screening of the film, hosted by Guillermo Del Toro.
The experience attracted a large and loyal audience, ranging from first-time players to ARG veterans, already garnering over a half-million views across its online properties. During the ARG’s two-month evolution, players were enchanted by deep content exploration, as they spent an average of eight minutes per visit across multiple impressions. Explaining the phenomenon Wolf notes, “Alternate reality entertainment and transmedia storytelling is really evolving and that’s exactly what people love about the medium – it rarely takes the same form twice and is full of truly innovative content and technique. We took great care to craft a narrative that borrowed from the Hellboy II fiction, without infringing upon it or giving anything away. It’s a pretty cool concept, as the public was able to experience a parallel universe that offered its own unique entertainment and backstory, while still promoting the film. It’s certainly no longer a secret that big brands are recognizing the power of reaching and engaging their core audience and market with these convergent-content, deep-impression experiences.” Wolf’s background also includes creating and producing award-winning console and PC-based games for both EA and Sega before launching his own production company to help bring together interactive entertainment and cross-media storytelling. Commenting on what makes these projects successful, Wolf adds, “It’s about using all forms of available media to really engage players and deliver the most authentic and compelling content and user experiences possible.”
As a part of the ARG, there were 20+ live action web videos, also conceived and written by Wolf, and directed by Danny Trachtenberg of Tight, which were strategically leaked and syndicated across the web. These videos provided timely clues and background to the original characters from the unfolding story. One of the central characters, Lexi Lloyd, vlogs about the mysterious events of her summer home alone, which includes the reappearance of her allegedly deceased father. Elsewhere, classic military footage reveals strange government experiments and unusual creatures. Weaving all of the pieces together is a process that is very familiar to Wolf and Double Twenty, which specializes in creating immersive experiences, often in the form of ARG’s, video games, and brand-related storytelling. In addition to the Emmy-winning game for Fallen, the Double Twenty has done award-winning work for brands such as Pepsi, FedEx, Coca-Cola, Nike, and The Simpsons, as well as directing brand and creative oversight for the recently released Bourne Conspiracy video game for Robert Ludlum’s estate. Wolf’s original game design concepts also helped Coca-Cola win a 2008 Webby for Game Design for a unique collection of online Happiness Factory games, where Wolf also served as Executive Producer through Shift Control Media and AKQA.
Client: Universal Pictures (The Secret Device Alternative Reality Game)
Agency: Double Twenty
Double Twenty Company Creds:
Executive Producer: Matt Wolf
Writer/Director/Game Design: Matt Wolf
Producer: Tania Thiele
Additional Writers: Tania Thiele, David Wohl
Puppet Masters: Tania Thiele, Matt Wolf
Lexi Vlogs, Panatrog Films &
Hooded Man Videos: Double Twenty
Creative Director: Matt Wolf
Written by: Matt Wolf
Production Company (Live-Action): Tight
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Executive Producer: Rich Carter
Head of Production: Annie Hanlon
Producer: Ari Hakim
Editor: David Trachtenberg
VFX: Mark Leiss
Executive Producer: Kirstin Thon-Webb
Editorial: Cosmo Street Editorial
Editor: Asako Ushio
Executive Producer: Yvette Cobarrubias
Music: Finger Music & Sound Design
Composer: Dave Hodge
About Double Twenty
Double Twenty was founded in 2000 by Emmy Award-winning creator and producer Matt Wolf. Since then, the company has enjoyed success across interactive entertainment and content development, creating award-winning games, advertising strategies, and brand extensions for clients such as Pepsi, FedEx, Coca-Cola, Nike, and Gracie Films’ The Simpsons. Wolf also oversees interactive brand and creative for the Robert Ludlum Estate, which recently released the highly-touted Bourne Conspiracy video game. The company specializes in creating and guiding all kinds of powerful content and intellectual property throughout the game creation and storytelling process-a path that often results in the fusion of media across videogames, television, film, print, online, and interactive.
About Matt Wolf
Matt Wolf is an Emmy Award-winning creator and producer. Spanning a fifteen-year run in gaming, Matt Wolf has been involved in the creative development of many successful video and computer games, board games, alternate reality entertainment, and advertising and promotional content. Wolf has been recently lending his creative direction and production expertise to several projects including the Bourne Conspiracy video game for the Robert Ludlum Estate and the alternate reality game preceding the launch of Universal’s Hellboy II film. Many see Matt Wolf as a new breed of game maker and storyteller, given his ability to successfully blend new media and more traditional forms of entertainment such as TV and film.
In 2006 Matt Wolf conceived the Fallen Alternate Reality Game (ARG) for ABC Family, which went on to win a 2007 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy, as well as prestigious awards at SXSW (South by Southwest) and the Banff World Television Festival. The string of success followed Wolf’s launch of his own production studio in 2000, as he worked on a wide range of entertainment and advertising projects spanning television, film, interactive entertainment and integrated media for brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, FedEx, and The Simpsons. In fact, through his relationship with Shift Control Media and AKQA, Matt served as game designer and EP for the Coca-Cola Happiness Factory online gaming project, which won a 2008 Webby Award for Game Design.
A lifelong gamer, Matt Wolf began his career at Electronic Arts in 1992. Over the next six years, he played key roles in production, design and marketing for several award-winning titles, across multiple genres and platforms. In 1998, Matt Wolf left Electronic Arts to take on the role of Executive Producer in charge of development for Sega Entertainment. At Sega, he oversaw product development and helped the company create over $50mm in revenue during his three-year tenure.
Matt continues to pioneer in the field of gaming, and over the last few years has bridged into more traditional forms such as TV and film to further authenticate his brand of entertainment. He no longer sees the boundaries of platform dependency when creating a game or story; instead, he’s comfortable using all forms of media in concert, as a canvas to entertain with maximum effect.
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