Crossovers come to ARGs: Perplex City & Frozen Indigo Angel

On May 18, 2007 by Christy

Crossovers (what I call inter-world relations in academia) are a familiar trait of comic books. Indeed, the playing with boundaries of all kinds — from media to fictional worlds — is a characteristic of this age of integration. My monocle popped however (to quote Christian McCrea) when I recently saw two ARGs crossover.

For the past few weeks BBC Radio 1 has been running an alternate reality game called Frozen Indigo Angel. The game plays out across websites and podcasts and is part of a campaign to raise interest in Radio 1’s Big Weekend.  I’ve been following the lazy-ARG-lurk version: twitter. Last year, the Big Weekend had a parallel event inside the online virtual world Second Life, and the BBC have explored multi-platform ‘alternate reality’ entertainment with projects such as Jamie Kane. This ARG is focused on a recently fired employee of the BBC, Paul Denchfield. He rants about the circumstances of him being fired here. Now, I really admire the fun the BBC are having with this. I like a company that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Perplex City is the first perpetual ARG that is being run by UK-based Mind Candy. The first season ended and the second is about to start (you can sign up to be notified here). In the meantime, the main character of that world, Violet Underground, has been blogging.

Both Paul Denchfield and Violet Underground, it turns out, have been chasing the same guy: Cyrus Quinton. A “sound-engineer-slash-mass-murdering-psychopath” as Violet calls him. On May 14th the two ARGs were brought together by the players who notified each of these characters of the other:

Cyrus is from the world of Perplex City (another planet as well as another fictional world!). Violet has been trying to track him down while ex BBC employee Paul has been trying to find out the person behind a plot to do something evil at the Big Weekend. Violet explains:

Now we know that someone from Apolyton sent Cyrus the plans for this extremely dangerous device. We don’t know exactly what it does yet, but the words “neural override” don’t make me feel warm all over. Part of what Cyrus is doing involves subliminal messaging: he’s planning a huge test of this technology this coming weekend at a big music festival on Earth: Radio 1’s Big Weekend. And like I say, an enormous crowd of people all having their neurons overridden… well, at the very least they’re going to want their money back. 

BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend is, well, this weekend. So, we will find out whether Cyrus will be foiled by the players or not…Either way, I’m thrilled to see this inter-world play. I cannot recall other ARG crossovers right now (well it is 3am for me). If you remember any let me know. I really like this playing with entertainment between fictional worlds and corporations. Good on ya guys.

Ingame character blog for BBC’s Frozen Indigo Angel: www.pauldenchfield.com

Ingame character blog for Mind Candy’s Perplex City: www.violetunderground.com

Big Weekend website: www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/bigweekend