So, I might as well admit this to you now…
I’m addicted to Lost.
Judge me if you must, but I’m proud to be a card-carrying Lostie.
What, do you ask, has this to do with experience design? Well, everything, of course! Sit down and let me explain.
When Lost first premiered, I watched the first season and was intrigued. But life got in the way, I missed a few episodes, and decided that I missed way too much to keep up, so I dropped the show for a while. That is, until mid-season two. I happened upon a recap episode when I heard that there was a guy in a hatch, a computer with a button, and a tail section – WHAT?! Well, let’s just say my mind was blown. I love a good mystery, and Lost was turning out to be right up my alley.
Now, all of this intrigue had me jonesing for more information, so where could I turn but the good ol’ internets? After doing a search for “Lost” and “theories”, I came upon a forum, one of many, where people just as befuddled as I could gather to try to make sense of this perlexing show. A little oasis in a desert of confusion that became my little Lostie home away from home.
ok, ok, I’m getting to the point…
So, after that second season, some rather interesting developments cropped up in the form of unusual advertisements and Lost-related websites that drove Losties like me to search for more information. It was the start of Lost’s first ARG – an “alternate reality game” designed by the show’s creators to expand the storyline of the show and to bring worldwide fans together in an online experience. By the end of this first ARG, those who followed along were treated not only to an expanded backstory and plum information about the Dharma Initiative and the Valenzetti Equation (you can look it up…), but – more importantly - were treated to an experience with fellow Losties that required them to pool their efforts and help one another to piece together the clues that ultimately led them to their mythological treasure.
Since that first ARG, Lost has offered up similar experiences, usually kicked off at Comic-Con and running during each hiatus. Some ARG’s have been more successful than others , but each time the bond between ultimate fans and the show gets stronger and stronger. How’s that for marketing in the new age?
And now I come to the true purpose of this article, Lost’s latest ARG: The Lost Underground Art Project (also known as Damon, Carlton and a Polar Bear). Again, kicking off at Comic-Con this summer, the creators, with comedian Paul Scheer, set off a chain of events that would lead clue-hungry Losties to the ultimate scavenger hunt. Beginning in August, the first clue led Losties to a club in LA with a show by the late DJ AM, and a special appearance by Sterling Beaumon (young Ben Linus), who revealed the purpose of this ARG: A Lost fan appreciation event whereby 16 limited-edition Lost-inspired prints by some of today’s most collectible artists would be released over the next four months. It would again require the efforts of the group to follow the clues to each print, which were revealed at small events from LA to NY and Tokyo to Glasgow.
So from August to December, Lost fans were treated to a little adventure that helped pass the long – and I mean long – hiatus leading up to the final season of the show. Being that I live in Lost, I mean Los, Angeles, I was lucky enough to be able to attend several of the clue-finding missions, including a trip to my local Crumbs bakery to find a clue on the backs of the staffs’ uniforms, and another jaunt to Ron Herman to pick up a nifty canvas bag containing another clue. Along the way, I always headed back to my collection of online forums where Losties like me would gather together to discuss the clues, share information, await the next poster release, and generally shoot the…you know.
As the campaign drew to a close, the final clue led to a culminating experience that would prove to be the peanut butter on the Dharma crackers…er, cherry on the cake. The final reveal would be a gallery show at Gallery1988, the brains (along with the Lost team) behind the ARG operation. Luckily enough, the gallery is minutes from my home. I win again.
After weeks and weeks of what had been a fun, though sometimes maddening, adventure, this final event was a must-see experience for any Lostie who could break away from the normal course of events and head to LA on December 15th. People from all over the country flew in, and some even camped out overnight, to be first in line to walk into the gallery and see what was in store. True to the Lost M.O., even waiting in line proved to be an experience filled with jubilation, drama and mystery, where those lining up on the street were treated to everything from pizza deliveries from the President of ABC, to another clue hunt from the gallery owner, to a special gift drop-off for the overnighters from the two Lost show runners, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. As the line grew, along with the anticipation, Losties took pictures, tweeted and even took streaming video as it all happened to share with those who couldn’t attend, allowing the collective experience to continue.
At 7:00pm, the doors opened to the gallery and revealed not only a full set of the 16 limited-addition posters that had been revealed throughout the ARG, but an amazing collection of original art and other memorabilia provided by more artists, many of whom were in attendance alongside Lost’s writers and producers. Each person who walked through the door recieved a lithograph of the final poster, which was revealed at the show, and had the opportunity to have it signed by Lindelof and Cuse, who returned shortly after the doors opened.
I will say that it was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in a while. But while clue-hunting and poster reveals were a unique way to pass the time, it was the partnership with the online community to help solve the clues, come up with solutions and pool efforts that made the experience so memorable. I really will never forget it. And lucky for all of us, LostARGs.com documented the whole thing, so we can relive it whenever our little Lostie hearts desire.
So, in addition to my undying love for Lost as a show, it is the commitment of the show’s creators to design these extra credit experiences for the fans that make it a fitting first article for this blog about Experience Design. Now on to Season 6!
Here’s a peachy recap for your viewing pleasure:
Next Article: A Tale of Two Events: It was the best of experiences, it was the worst of experiences…
Read Full Post »