One day, you sit down to watch TV, and catch a teaser trailer for a movie not scheduled for release for another year. It catches your eye, but you inevitably move on.
The next week, you receive a bulky piece of mail containing a hardcover book… you don’t initially recognize the author, or the company that sent it, but the topic interests you. As you open it, a piece of paper drops from its folds on which is written an email and phone number with a note asking you to contact the author by either method.
You’re curious, so you call the phone number and hear a recorded message from this person, who outlines their desperate situation and asks for help.
At this point you wonder where it came from. Out of curiosity, you start checking around. A quick google shows that the author doesn’t seem to exist, nor does the company. But you do find that the book and author are related to an upcoming movie, and you remember the teaser that caught your attention last week – the author’s name is familiar now, and you recognize their face. Now you’re excited. For whatever reason, the lead character in the movie just contacted you, personally, and they need your help – a series of events are unfolding, right now, today, this week.
Enticed, you dig a little deeper… in doing so, you discover websites that reveal more about this character, this company, and the recent events that prompted them to contact you, and why. You find other people online who’ve been contacted as well, so you chat with them to find out what they know, and team up with them moving forward.
Over time, there are puzzling situations that you have to resolve, other characters you need to talk to, interact with and influence in your strive towards various accomplishments and resolutions, discovering more and more of the story as it plays out.
You’re taken places – nearby locations for secret exchanges of information, or for real-world tasks to be carried out. You watch videos, find clues in commercials, record and share videos denouncing an antagonist’s propaganda, even crowd-source a solution to a problem on your cell phone, with a bit of augmented reality thrown in… Your ongoing curiosity in this amazing story drives your enthusiasm. Your interaction and teamwork with others doing the same forms bonds and friendships, and a community of fans.
You become immersed in the story so much that when it ends and you’ve saved the day, you cheer and celebrate with your community and your friends!
Oh yeah, and there was that movie you wanted to see too… You wonder if or how your actions helping this author and the company had an influence in that story. Now you have to see the movie (and with friends, especially other people with whom you’ve shared the experience)!
You go and see the film. On screen you spot the actual location you visited to receive top secret information from the company that sent you the package. Then the person who asked you for help, the lead character in the movie, references the mystery that you just helped solve!
Your experience, the story you helped to complete over the course of a few months, connected you with a grander set of events – you became a part of the movie.
Shortly after the movie airs, Amazon shoots you an email recommending a novel that’s soon to be released – an autobiography written by the fictional author as their followup to their other book, the one you received in the mail. You want it.
Being a comic book fan, you’re excited to hear about a series soon to be released centered on the company that sent you the package; about its rich history, chronicling many of its past …’mishaps’. You want it.
You’re at the local toy store one day, and you see a bobblehead – of the author. It makes you chuckle. You want it.
A year down the line, with this property still going strong (it’s now a thriving universe with a history, many developed characters, events, and stories you’ve come to follow and enjoy), a sequel to the film is announced… along with a video game spin-off on the gaming console you own. You want to immerse yourself in them, and discover what other exciting experiences the universe has to offer. You note their release dates.
Then, as you sit down for dinner, tuning into the latest episode of the TV series continuation that launched a few months ago, you get a phone call.
You recognize the voice.
It’s the author… the real person is talking to you. They’re called you because they remember how you helped them last time. Your help is needed again.
They ask you, and you say yes.