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 Forum index » Meta » General META Discussion
"Bomb Threat" turns out to be hoax... discuss.
Moderators: imbri, ndemeter
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C_Brennan
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Joined: 02 Sep 2004
Posts: 236
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

"Bomb Threat" turns out to be hoax... discuss.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force ad campaign gone wrong...

"Suspicious devices" were found all over Boston earlier, all of them thought to be explosive devices placed to disrupt transportation lines and "key points" of emergency rescue areas... however, once actually looked at, they were discovered to be LED mock-ups of Aqua Teen Hunger Force's Mooninite antagonists, Iginok and Er, shooting up their middle fingers in infamous fashion.

The LED lite-bright ads were found all over Boston, and disposed of by... um... bomb squads. Some of them were blown up, others were "disabled" with a high-tech squirt gun. But, the one problem with all of this is that these small and obviously non-explosive devices have been overblown by the media as first a bomb threat, then "a nasty hoax".

Something as non offensive as these LED panels, which obviously had no explosives strapped to them - just lights, circuitry, and batteries - have sent up numerous red flags because someone who didn't understand the purpose of the piece called 911.

My point here is that if this ad campaign with lite-brite devices has caused this much trouble, what about the things we very commonly do in Alternate Reality Games, such as package dead drops, suspicious meetings, special symbols left in places, secret messages... fair in the eye of the public and the media? Should we as Alternate Reality Gamers and developers tone back on these types of interactions, for fear of public backlash, or should we simply keep up on our tippie toes and just be more careful with how we proceed with these types of interactions?

And, above all, is this a warning sign against our way of gaming? I thought it was especially relevant to put the heads up to everyone here, as I think this closely relates to what we do. Personally I don't see any reason to altogether stop these types of interactions, but it certainly makes me leery about doing one of these types of interactions as a puppetmaster. Especially when the Mass. governor and others have said the person responsible for this will get 5 years of prison for each separate hoax if found guilty.

As imbri so infamously says.... discuss.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:36 pm
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djsampson
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Joined: 12 Sep 2006
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Oh I can see the head lines now........ ARG causes mass panic in {insert city}........ Someone better tell the PMs of tCotSA to stop mailing suspicious packages. Shocked
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 6:53 pm
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catherwood
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Joined: 25 Sep 2002
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Location: Silicon Valley, CA

This was in no way an ARG, yet the media will probably lump us in with all guerilla marketing. The bomb scare probably makes this stunt more viral than it would have been had they just scattered obvious advertising. Was there any identification on the things, such as a URL or logo? How useful is marketing that doesn't tell you what the product is?

Yeah, discuss.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 11:56 pm
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Lovek
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Joined: 02 Mar 2005
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Two plead not guilty to Boston hoax charges

I didn't know they could arrest people for making a city government look stupid.

I'd agree with catherwood that this is not an ARG, but ARGs will probably get lumped in with the other guerrilla marketing. Honestly, though, my guess is Boston will try to bury this story after today.

I can't imagine these guys will be convicted of anything, but you have to put on a show to save face I guess.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:26 pm
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Rolerbe
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Joined: 01 Mar 2005
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I can see, on our current trend, a time when ARG's will have to 'register' with Homeland Security to run. Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:08 pm
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RedHatty
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Joined: 08 May 2006
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What appears to be the story here is that Cartoon Network hired a third-party street-marketing firm, Interference Inc., to place little black boards festooned with LED lights in the image of a character in the Aqua Teen Hunger Force series near roads, on bridge spans and in subway stations, in order to be noticed by commuters.

Peter Berdvosky, 27, who worked with (not for) the street marketing firm responsible for the campaign called the pieces a "guerilla graffiti light installation," and his personal Web site has pictures and video of himself and a small group of others placing 22 devices around Boston.

Apparently no one at Interference Inc, thought it was appropriate to contact the authorities in the cities these displays were being set up in. No city officials, police or fire departments were sent a media alert of the intent & locations of the devices.

These devices were placed in 10 different cities. None of the cities were aware of the intent. None of the city authorities were contacted.

I personally think this was very poor planning on the part of Interference, Inc. and I won't be surprised if ultimately they are prosecuted for the lack of honest communication.

Will this ultimately hurt ARG activities? I doubt it. If an ARG was so large as to place a large number of items in a city, it woulld #1 probably not be a grass roots, and #2 Would learn from the mistakes made here & notify proper authorities in advance.

Small grass-roots games with dead drops do not tend to place the item so as to draw unwanted attention from "muggles" (those not playing). So, while this is a learning lesson for all involved & for the ARG community as a whole, I seriously doubt that it will have lasting impact with how drops are made in game activities.

Just my $0.02 worth

edit to correct minor spelling error
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:25 pm
Last edited by RedHatty on Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:45 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Phaedra
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Agreed.

And I think most corporate teams (which are the ones likely to have budgets large enough to pull off attention-getting public stunts) would probably notify authorities of what they were doing.

Or, at least now they will. Wink
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 2:43 pm
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konamouse
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Joined: 02 Dec 2002
Posts: 8004
Location: My own alternate reality

RedHatty wrote:
Small grass-roots games with dead drops do not tend to place the item so as to draw unwanted attention from "muggles" (those not playing).


oOOH, we definitely need a term for non-players. Not sure if "Muggles" is the best choice (since that is already well known terminology in the Harry Potter universe) but it's the same idea.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:24 pm
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RedHatty
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We use Muggles in geo-caching, so it's the term I am familiar with regarding those who do not play/do not understand
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 3:32 pm
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Rolerbe
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Joined: 01 Mar 2005
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Phaedra wrote:


And I think most corporate teams (which are the ones likely to have budgets large enough to pull off attention-getting public stunts) would probably notify authorities of what they were doing.

Or, at least now they will. Wink


The main problem with notifying authorities is they act like 'authorities' -- i.e. respond with "you can't do that".
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 6:47 pm
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Lovek
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Love the video of the two arrested guys holding a press conference today: http://wbztv.com/video/?cid=9&id=28369@wbz.dayport.com

"That is also not a hair question."
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 6:52 pm
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RedHatty
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Rolerbe wrote:

The main problem with notifying authorities is they act like 'authorities' -- i.e. respond with "you can't do that".


Unless you are doing something that requres permits, a simple notification that this is part of an advertising program / media event will not get too much flak. Of course, you need to know the rules & zoning regs, etc.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 6:55 pm
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Rolerbe
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RedHatty wrote:
Unless you are doing something that requres permits, a simple notification that this is part of an advertising program / media event will not get too much flak. Of course, you need to know the rules & zoning regs, etc.


I applaud your (youthful?) optimism rather than my (old and tired) jaded cynicism with regards to our beauracracy...
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 7:08 pm
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Pixiestix
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Joined: 26 Aug 2004
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Lovek wrote:
"That is also not a hair question."


Friggen lawyer, if he had advised them NOT to speak about the case then why the hell call a press conference and claim that they are taking the whole issue seriously? I mean, if they ARe taking it seriously, then isn't the lawyer doing a bad job by forcing them to look like assholes here?

"my clients are performance artists" sound much more like "hey, this press conference is to asure that someone somewhere wants to hire them for having the balls to be pricks at a time like this" because you know someone will.

MEDIA: "....hair questions a joke, there is a serious element to this"
LAWYER: "and if you don't like what you are seeing here, then why don't you..... leave the guys alone then."
MEDIA: "we haven't bothered the guys, they are free to leave if they want"
{this here is the biggest mistake, ready?}
JERK DREADLOCK: "I'm quite enjoying this."

I am getting more and more annoyed at these jerks by the minute.

Do I think even if they went through proper channels they would have been allowed to do what they did ? no, because even a pixilated finger is still the finger. HOWEVER, I have next to no sympathy at all for them now.

{{{oh and rolerbe - boston was the only area upset at first. Boston would have maybe said no all together if asked first, but the other cities only caved into taking them down after the media frenzy - they reacted to the people, not the other way around. so while i say yet again i do not agree with how things went down, I also see LOTS of ARGs and Viral marketing camps that have NO issues with the beaurocracy that some of us have so called naive faith in. I tend to agree with redhatty on this one... and as everyone here knows, i am FAR from an optimist. Very Happy }}}
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 10:19 pm
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Phaedra
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Joined: 21 Sep 2004
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Rolerbe wrote:
The main problem with notifying authorities is they act like 'authorities' -- i.e. respond with "you can't do that".


Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don't.

During Last Call Poker, some cemeteries, I believe, refused to let 42 hold events. Others were supportive.

I'm reasonably certain cities are going to be the same way. But if you're going to do something that might bring law enforcement down on your head due to a misunderstanding, it's only prudent to see if that misunderstanding can be avoided entirely with a little explanation.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2007 11:18 pm
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