Deleted: The Game is more than just another mystery thriller web series. It’s creators at NY-based Gen247 Media call it, “an indie web TV show where you can interact with the characters through their MySpace and Facebook pages, (along with several other fictional sites) and influence how the story progresses.” Throughout this complex alternate reality game (ARG), the producers have seeded a hidden trail of clues in each episode and all over the internet setting up “a massive online treasure hunt of sorts.”
The story begins with a young woman, Tyler Mills (Charlie Miller) , who loses her memory and is looking for her boyfriend Ethan (Shawn Parsons). Sadly, her boyfriend has been “deleted”, meaning his identity has been stolen. What’s a girl to do? Teaming up with her two best friends Nicole (Elia Monte-Brown) and Zac (David Rudd) seems like a good start.
Broken down into four episode acts, the series focuses intensely on memory, identity, and time shifting, deftly combining these elements across multiple interaction points throughout the Internet. Directed by indie filmmaker Ryan Gielen, the series runs about $10,000 an episode, despite being “shot entirely with consumer grade camcorders, webcams and phonecams.”
Each episode ends with a question. Answering correctly gets registered players points. And what do you win?
Point earners get access to “Tyler’s Circles of Friendship”:
Inner Circle: Top 20 Point Earners – Tyler’s Online Phone Number.
Close Friend: Top 50-21 Point Earners – Tyler’s Online chat Address
Good Friend: Top 50% – Tyler’s Email
New Friend: Top 90% – Private Messages on Social Network
Acquaintance: Registered Players – added to Friend’s List on Social Network
For reasons of personal preference, we will avoid exploring how incredibly creepy it seems to go on a huge web scavenger hunt in order to receive some fake girl’s phone number. But, please, by all means, you go forward with it.
DTG premiered a month ago and is up to Episode 9, so there’s time to get in on the action and actually influence the outcome. Comment anywhere on the various Tyler Mills fake vlogs, MySpace and Facebook profiles and even company websites set up and you’ll receive a response. One YouTube viewer commented on the mediocre acting and was immediately hit up with a response asking, “Thanks. Which actor and how can they improve?” That’s service!
The show itself is well-shot and seethes with appropriate tension. Fans of interactive story-telling experiences like The Lost Experience, The Dark Knight promotion and Halo 2’s impressively vexing I Love Bees will find this a worthy addition to the genre. Interactive experiences like this are what the Internet was built for. (Also see newcomer ARG web series The Prisoner.) Maybe if the rewards for participation weren’t tantamount to stalking, more people will be excited by this curious puzzle.