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Case Studies Marcelo Guerra / Dexter ARG
During the 2010 San Diego Comic-con, Showtime Digital Media unveiled an "alternate reality" Dexter game that helped usher fans into the premiere of Season 5 by leading them on a hunt for the mysterious "Infinity Killer." Comprised of two main sites (sleepsuperbly.com and serialhuntress.com), a weekly digest (hunterprey.com), and numerous microsites, the action took place across the web and on mobile devices.
The Dexter ARG (Alternate Reality Game) started with a hunt on SCVNGR (the mobile treasure hunt app platform) leading players to a secret kill room at Comic-Con to look for more clues. You are soon led to a special sleep analysis website, with clues pointing to a twitter user named @urnameurlife and then to a person known as “Serial Huntress” whose website for crowdsourced serial killer convictions serves as the hub of the mystery. Serial Huntress uploaded new videos with information, clues and questions every week soliciting the help of the community to close the infinity killer case.
Along the way, fans unlocked exclusive content, among which was the season five show teaser which was activated after getting 100,000 recorded “kills” through the SCVNGR app. To see how it progressed, you can view many of the ARG forums here, here and here. The campaign was so detailed, they built a special slasher app so fans could create a signature Dexter cheek cut.
The DEXTER ARG showcased the potential of transmedia for the future of marketing. By giving people a shared goal and the tools to form a community around it, the team at the agency Modernista! achieved a new level of intimacy between the DEXTER brand and its followers. Players were self-professed “addicts” to the game, the characters, and to each other. They engaged with the creators, the “puppetmasters,” in a continuous two-way stream, and welcomed both the entertainment value and the puzzles presented by the campaign. The fans embraced the challenge and took the game in new directions. This built a new sense of trust between the brand and fans, and pushed the ARG form to new into a space that fostered relationship marketing. The ARG was so successful in creating socially-driven experiences that relationships within the community grew throughout the campaign.
Beyond the impact of the project itself, the greatest takeaway the creators experienced was in the experimentation with process. The ARG pushed the Showtime and Modernista! team into a fluid flow of content creation, with content often moving in real time from concepting, to production, to release in an extremely condensed timeline. No matter the content type, whether videos or websites or live social media interaction, they were responsible for creating remarkable breadth of meaningful experiences.
For more further reading check out these articles. Happy hunting!