Secret Websites, Coded Messages: The New World of Immersive Games

The initial clue was so subtle that for nearly two days nobody noticed it.

On February 10, 2007, the first night of Nine Inch Nails’ European tour, T-shirts went on sale at a 19th-century Lisbon concert hall with what looked to be a printing error: Random letters in the tour schedule on the back seemed slightly boldfaced. Then a 27-year-old Lisbon photographer named Nuno Foros realized that, strung together, the boldface letters spelled “i am trying to believe.” Foros posted a photo of his T-shirt on the Spiral, the Nine Inch Nails fan forum. People started typing “iamtryingtobelieve.com” into their Web browsers. That led them to a site denouncing something called Parepin, a drug apparently introduced into the US water supply. Ostensibly, Parepin was an antidote to bioterror agents, but in reality, the page declared, it was part of a government plot to confuse and sedate citizens. Email sent to the site’s contact link generated a cryptic auto-response: “I’m drinking the water. So should you.” Online, fans worldwide debated what this had to do with Nine Inch Nails. A setup for the next album? Some kind of interactive game? Or what?

A few days later, on February 14, a woman named Sue was about to wash a different T-shirt, which she had bought at one of the Lisbon shows, when she noticed that the tour dates included several boldface digits. Fans quickly interpreted this as a Los Angeles telephone number. People who called it heard a recording of a newscaster announcing, “Presidential address: America is born again,” followed by a distorted snippet of what could only be a new Nine Inch Nails song. Then, a woman named Ana reported finding a USB flash drive in a bathroom stall at the hall where the band had been playing. On the drive was a previously unreleased song, which she promptly uploaded. The metadata tag on the song contained a clue that led to a site displaying a glowing wheat field, with the legend “America Is Born Again.” Clicking and dragging the mouse across the screen, however, revealed a much grimmer-looking site labeled “Another Version of the Truth.” Clicking on that led to a forum about acts of underground resistance.
[From Secret Websites, Coded Messages: The New World of Immersive Games]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *