Massively multiplayer movie marketing?
October 2, 2003 7:29 PM   Subscribe

Paging adrianhon ... Everyone's favorite soulless cubicle farm, Metacortex, now has a web presence. You can also visit their strategic ally Underscore Hosting, and even see a currently functionless homepage for their forthcoming Metadex product. In fact, you can even check the status of their Greek fabricated-island resort Aquapolis. Should you need to contact Metacortex or Underscore, their websites offer both e-mail and telephone numbers, both valid. If the name Metacortex only rings a vague bell, it might help to recall their most, ah, celebrated ex-employee, Thomas Anderson. (more inside)
posted by blueshammer (9 comments total)
Now, before anyone cries ViralMarketingFilter: This has all the appearances of an A.I.-like game. Digging around the Metacortex site (very Flash-intensive, unfortunately), for instance, gives you various names that you can enter into the company directory, most of which return working phone numbers ... but putting in the name of the ex-CEO gives you a binary string that can be converted to text. And so on. What's particularly strange about it, besides the compressed time frame (Matrix Revolutions comes out in a month, whereas the A.I. game lasted much longer), is: How does this integrate into the Matrix world's convoluted storyline? What in the world does Neo's old, inside-the-matrix company have to do with the trilogy's conclusion? The Wachowski, er, Bros. have not been skimpy about using media besides the movies themselves to provide clues into their world, but this still seems like the shallow end of the rabbit hole. Furthermore, it would be hard to believe that this game would even approach the textual richness of the A.I. game, which, upon its conclusion, resulted in a surprisingly engaging piece of speculative fiction. (And though legal barriers prevent the A.I. storyteller himself from telling you that story, there is always adrianhon. Warning: Following that last link will subtract at least four hours from your workday, but, hey, it's Friday.)
posted by blueshammer at 7:30 PM on October 2, 2003

Might have a tie-in with the MMPORG. A search of Google groups brings up folks' discoveries. Frankly, this sort of A.I-style "game" is far more interesting to me than the what the MMPORG is shaping up to be.
posted by Sangre Azul at 8:07 PM on October 2, 2003

People seem to be pooling their intellectual resources here.
posted by Uncle Ira at 10:22 PM on October 2, 2003

Thanks for the shout-out, blueshammer! Interesting stuff. It was always thought that the Matrix was an excellent candidate for an AI-style 'alternate reality game'.

I agree that the compressed timeline is quite unusual because typically it takes some time to get a critical mass of people interested in these games and start the storyline going. There is a possibility though that Warner Brothers really doesn't have anything to do with Metacortex and this is just the product of some fans (which would be quite neat).

I can't say that I think the game will have a narrative as rich as AI (the game, not the movie) simply because the Matrix isn't exactly well known for that. But in any case, it looks as if it'll be quite fun and it's great to see that people are taking the genre forward again. I will have to keep an eye on this one...
posted by adrianhon at 12:49 AM on October 3, 2003

Is this the same people that did the AI game? I didn't get into that one, but checking out the link to the author of that story/game, it appears Microsoft was part of producing it, and looking at the german site (it's in english) that's collecting data, it appears all telephone #'s and addresses are based in Redmond, Wash...
posted by efalk at 1:05 AM on October 3, 2003

sorry, listed as Redland, WA, but microsoft is based in Redmond, WA
posted by efalk at 1:06 AM on October 3, 2003

efalk: AI was a co-production of Warner Bros. and Dreamworks, and of those two companies, it was WB that collaborated with MS to create the AI game. WB is also releasing the Matrix, so it's possible that some of the same people are involved.

The Redland/Redmond thing is a joke, I think; we're supposed to associate Metacortex with Microsoft.
posted by blueshammer at 8:41 AM on October 3, 2003

Yes; there isn't a Redland in Washington.
posted by kindall at 8:55 AM on October 3, 2003

This web-game hacking puzzle situation brings up an interesting catch-22. How do we know when we've left the realm of the movie's fictional collection of websites, back into the real world, where it is technically illegal to try to hack into the websites?

For example, I gave them an email address in their "MetaGamex Beta Test" signup, which really sent a short email to the address I gave it, telling me thanks for signing up, blah blah blah. I thought, maybe this is a way to get more clues, so I looked in the email headers and found the following:

X-Mailer: Octeth Email Manager Pro(R) v3.2.1.0 Reloaded

I thought, ok, let's do a google search for "Octeth Email Manager", and came across a website, which after a minute of looking around was apparent to be a real software product in the real non-fictional world that we, metafilter readers exist in.

So, my question is, if hacking computers is going to get us 20 years in jail, and ignorance of the law is no excuse, what are we expected to do when games which enjoy seamless integration with our reality require that we practice "hacking" actions to participate in the game, and we have no clear border between where the game ends and reality begins?
posted by joquarky at 10:17 AM on October 3, 2003

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