ABC Gives Fans a “Lost Experience”
You can be a winner at the game of Lost.
ABC has devised a way to keep fans of its hit show confused, guessing and on the edge of their seats during the lazy days of summer reruns. The network announced Monday the creation of an interactive multiplatform treasure hunt game called Lost Experience that will introduce a new story line but stay true to Lost’s signature mix of supernatural and psychological mystery.
The Lost Experience will require players to trade e-mail messages and phone calls and check out billboards, TV commercials and websites to gather all the necessary clues.
The game’s premise will be rooted in Lost history but ABC said that you don’t need to have watched the show to get in on the game, which will feature new characters and delve deeper into the manipulative Hanso Foundation that was introduced in season two as the benefactor of the button-pushing Dharma Initiative. (Well, watching a few episodes beforehand couldn’t hurt…)
There is no grand prize for those who manage to piece the puzzle together, but ABC promises that those who play will end up learning some of the island’s better-kept secrets.
In a savvy stroke of synergy, the game’s first clue, in the form of a toll-free number that you must call, will air during a May 3 Lost episode. The first clues for Others in the U.K. and Australia are being released May 2 and May 6, respectively.
One of the most exciting parts of the Lost Experience will be the interaction it fosters among people all over the world, according to Michael Benson, a senior VP at ABC. He said that Lost’s writers, not ABC marketers, were responsible for plotting the game’s course and that 19 other broadcasters in various areas of the globe would air the series of clues in different ways. ABC would like to see fans reaching out to each other to stay up to date on the latest Lost Experience info.
“We wanted to tell stories in a nontraditional way,” Lost writer and executive producer Carlton Cuse told the New York Times, “and there were certain stories that Damon [Lindeloff] and I were interested in telling that don’t exactly fit into the television show.”
Luckily the worry that something might not fight hasn’t stopped them from adding a host of complicated back stories, symbolism and numerical puzzles to the show for fans to writhe in exhilarated anticipation over.
“We purposely design the show with a big amount of ambiguity so people can theorize about what a certain scene means,” Cuse said. “This allows the fans to participate in the process of discovery.”
Cuse also offered viewers a tip for starting the Lost Experience off on the right foot:
“Watch the May 3 episode very carefully. You can TiVo it, but don’t skip the commercials.
“You have to give the audience something to connect to,” Benson told the New York Times. “I want to prove to the audience that this is something they will enjoy, that is organic to the show. I don’t want the audience to feel like ‘they are just selling to me or marketing to me.'”
This is not the first time that Lost has sent its faithful to other media platforms in search of answers. To up the eerie factor, the show’s team created a website for Oceanic Airlines, whose doomed Flight 815 made our castaways Lost in the first place.
“What we discovered was that by creating additional content for this show, we could creative a marketing tool that would have fans more invested in the program, and if it was cool they’d share with their friends,” Benson said.
ABC also announced earlier this month that it is making new episodes of Lost, Desperate Housewives, Alias and Commander in Chief, available in May for free online viewing, although fans will have to sit through ads that they can avoid if they download commercial-free shows for $1.99 per episode from Apple’s iTunes Music Store.
Lost, which has averaged 15.4 million viewers this season and is one of iTune’s most popular TV downloads to date, will leave viewers staring into the dark hatch of summer hiatus with a two-hour season finale May 24.
ABC Gives Fans a “Lost Experience”