Perplex City (Writer, Game Designer & Producer) 

Perplex City was a two-year treasure hunt where the story played out in real time, with the audience directly influencing events in the story world. Players purchased packs of puzzle cards to get deeper insight into the world and story, and raced each other up the leaderboard to earn points and glory.

The project ultimately included several interactive characters, dozens of web sites, and over half a million words of content. The first season concluded in 2008 when player Andy Darley unearthed the "missing" Receda Cube from its hiding spot in the woods outside of London and won the £100,000 prize. 

Deep Engagement

The story took place in Perplex City, a place that prized intellect and problem-solving ability above any other trait. The city existed only by its digital footprint, beginning with the Sentinel, which covered political news, celebrity gossip, and more. Fans could write letters to the editor to be published, and even a guest column.

The city wasn't just a newspaper, though. It had its own subway and maps, a university, the record label Hesh Records (that released a real album), trendy restaurants and apartment buildings, and more.

Characters living in Perplex City had their own blogs and email addresses, too — and if you reached out to them, they would respond to you personally. (They would've been on social media, too... but at the time, social media as we know it hadn't been invented yet.)

Fans were so engaged by the two-year project that they created a wiki with over a thousand pageswrote a book when we told them to, folded 333 origami cranes to send to our main office when a character was murdered. Players even attended live events in New York, London and San Francisco where they participated in solving intensive group challenges, were spooked as all their phones all rang at once, and even chased a spy through the streets  — losing him only when he escaped in a black helicopter.

...and, of course, the fans bought millions of our collectible puzzle cards. 

Truly Multi-Platform Storytelling

This video was the start of a pre-launch campaign to build awareness and excitement for the game, and serves as an excellent example of the complexity of both the whole game itself, and the variety of creative and production tasks Andrea Phillips performed over the course of the project.

Blank spots in the video were filled in over time with more dates and newspaper names. Each newspaper ran a classified or display ad with a piece of a fictional news article. The campaign culminated in the launch of a fictional news site, creating a persistent virtual world in which much of the campaign unfolded. 

Andrea wrote and recorded the voiceover for the pregame video, planned and purchased the media buys, designed the actual ads, and wrote the majority of the copy for the site this campaign launched, the Perplex City Sentinel, over the two years that it was live.

character_Anna.jpg
puzzlecards.jpg

 

Awards

Perplex City was a critically acclaimed project, and collected a very respectable number of accolades. 

  • Perplex City received an Origins Vanguard Innovation Award in 2005. 
  • Frozen Indigo Angel, an interstitial episode of Perplex City, was nominated for a Radio Academy Edge Innovation Award in 2007.
  • Perplex City was shortlisted for a BAFTA in the Best Video Game category in Aug. 2006.