December 26, 2007

Audio Drama Review: Red Monday

What would you do if you had information about the next big terrorist attack on US soil? What if nobody believed you?

Back at the Podcast and New Media Expo in California, some folks got big, red envelopes with "Classified" written on them. Some folks at the show got a bit freaked out about the whole thing. ANd it got a LOT of attention.

Of course, as soon as I heard about it, I had a feeling I knew what was going on. When I went to redmonday.com, all there was was a login prompt. But I knew what to do -- I checked the page source code.

Sure enough, there was a password left there. Sloppy for a real encrypted site, but Standard Operating Procedure for an ARG. The page was a rabbit hole.

I won't go into a lot of depth explaining those terms here; if you're interested, the best place to start is Unfiction. The forums will show you what kinds of Alternate Reality Games are out there (and there are a LOT of them out there), and there are resources available to explain what's going on in the genre. In short, this Red Monday thing was a game -- a very well thought out game.

I started getting email from a guy named JC, who had uncovered something big. Something was going down on November 26, but nobody was sure what. And that started the adventure.

Encoded files, ECHELON intercepts, satellite photos of suspicious installations -- it was a wild ride. I spent three hours one day scouring Google Earth trying to match up one satellite photo. I spent fifteen minutes talking to JC on Skype, trying to persuade him that John Kerry wasn't the President (in the RM universe, Ohio went Kerry rather than Bush, and it changed the election). The game was intense, and great fun. But then, it was over -- of course, it ended November 26.

And the podcast began.

The game was a sort of viral ad for the podshow, you see. And that's nothing unusual; after all, the game that started the whole ARG craze was "The Beast" -- a viral ad for the movie A.I. And the podcast is quite good.

Produced by J. Marcus Xavier, the man behind the Silent Universe podcast, Red Monday takes us to a world where Los Angeles has been nuked. We figured that much out in the game, though it was in part totally by accident. And we were way off on who did it, and why. The entire 5 episodes are up online, and I recommend them to anyone who likes 24 or Jericho. In fact, there was some speculation in the game that the whole thing was a tie-in to Jericho and the "Tom Tooman" game that's been running in connection with that show.

My only complaint is that the mini-series ends in quite the cliffhanger. I'm thinking that part of the purpose of Red Monday is to give some of the backstory to Silent Universe, Xavier's other podcast. If so, thanks, JMX. Now get to work and make us more Silent Universe! And if not, we need more Red Monday. Some of us have gotten quite attached to the story.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 06:18 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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