Batman Alternate Reality Game?!

The sequel to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, will be launched in cinemas on July 18, 2008. Warner Bros are busy with preparing audiences now, however, with an emerging online ‘alternate reality’ campaign. On May 12, Warner Bros put the official teaser site online [source].

Batman logo

The site has the batman image, but soon after it linked to a site set within the fictional universe: [source]. This site is the political campaign for Harvey Dent, the character that becomes “Two Face” after being disfigured by acid.

Harvey Dent

The Harvey Dent image was also seen around the streets of the US, and within 48-72 hours were then defaced. [source]

Defaced Dent


On May 19th, a comic store employee in Southern California reported finding a whole lot of doctered joker cards lying around their store, Meltdown. The cards have the words HaHa and ‘I Believe in Harvey Dent Too’ [source].

Joker Cards 
[pic source]

Fans realised that the words ‘I believe in Harvey Dent too’ was indeed a URL (a device used quite readily in ARGs).  The new site,, had a defaced image of Harvey Dent and the offer to enter your email address. An email notified fans of an X and Y coordinate on the defaced image of Harvey Dent.


[pic source]

And then, as Muhammed Saleem explains:

But since participation is limited to one user and one pixel removal per email address, the average user will only be able to participate once. And since every ardent fan is desperate to see what lies beneath, it is in the best interest of every fan to spread the word as much as possible and to get the process going faster and faster so that we can all see what lies beneath. At this point the users undoubtedly take matters into their own hands, start spreading the word and try to get other users to participate and remove pixels.  

And so, the collective efforts of strangers all over the globe (or mainly the US I’d say) got together and took out one pixel as a time. 

Pixelated Joker

[pic source]

And Muhammud continues:

As you can see, the campaign has successfully become viral and the Warner advertising machine rejoices. Not only have the various sites been submitted to socially driven communities, but there have been incoming links from a multitude of film sites and blogs alike. Within a matter of hours, we have the following reconstruction of the final image:

Joker image

[pic source]

On May 21st, the Joker image was taken down. The site just has, now, the words ‘page not found’. However, fans did what ARG players do: highlighted the page. When you do this you see the page littered is with Haha’s, and some letters. Do it, it’s fun!


[pic source]

The letters spell out ‘See You in December’. The URL for is reported to have been registered by ARG production company 42 Entertainment. [source] 42 Entertainment do some great stuff, though recently their work as been light on narrative. I hope that Christopher Nolan, the director of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (and lots of other great films), has had some input too. This looks like alot of fun, though, why can’t I still register my email address to receive email updates anywhere? Anyway, I’ll be keeping my eyes on the skies for a bat..

ARG community gameplay at unfiction

4 Replies

  • The staff at, one of my favorite movie websites, have been going nuts over this campaign, and vow to cover it in detail throughout its entirety. That’s what made me realize — that this could possibly turn out to be the most well-known ARG yet, the first one to really break through to a mainstream audience. I suppose one could argue that that distinction belongs to last summer’s “Lost Experience;” I don’t count that, though, because that tended to consist of a lot more publicity than people actually paying attention. It’ll be interesting to see if this indeed becomes the first project of this sort to come to the attention of a large portion of the American population.

  • Hello Jason, haven’t spoken to you for a while — though I check out your SL reports. I find it interesting that you say it will be the first most well-known ARG. You’re right that there needs to be a distinction between those playing and the media hype about it. But I see it as tiers, where you have you different types of hard-core players, and then those who just check out the player-created materials about it, those that check out the meta reports about it. Of course, there is a blending between them all. I think the main percentage of people read the player-created materials, more than the producer-created ones and even the media-created ones. But I may be wrong. The point is that there is a range of different content that people can experience.

    If I apply this to your argument that this will be the first one in which people actually participate, this to me includes those actually playing and those watching the players play. But the reason why many people don’t actually play them is because of accessibility issues: ARGs take up way too much time!

    However, taking your train of thought, I think this could be an ARG extension of a property that has the longest history. All other ARGs have been for either new or fairly recent properties. Batman goes back decades = therefore, a greater audience share. Hmm…interesting.

    Thanks for coming by Jason.

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