Vanishing Point: addictive, online/real world game explaining Microsoft’s laptop scandal

January 14, 2007

Vanishing Point: addictive, online/real world game explaining Microsoft's laptop scandalAt a point in time, something happens that makes you question the validity of anything you read, see, or believe. I’ve come to this point, and it’s spinning my head in circles. The deeper I dig, the realization that I haven’t traveled far enough consumes me. 

Each week, tens of thousands of mystery seekers flock to Vanishing Point, an online/real world game, in an effort to unlock hidden clues in real world events around the world. The Prizes are  immense, including a sub-orbital space flight for the grand-prize winner.

Microsoft and AMD have finally come clean by admitting ‘Vanishing Point’ is just a clever marketing campaign for Vista, set to launch on Jan 30, and an extremely clever one at that! Don’t be surprised that there is ulterior motive here; only big names like Microsoft and AMD can generate enough buzz to make this advertisement/game a successful one.

Wait.. I’ve started too soon. Lets go back to the past. The clues are mind bending, and seem to be trailing back to events that happened last year, events that were not properly associated with a game.

Last month, Microsoft and AMD sent free Acer Ferrari 1000 and 5000 notebooks loaded with Vista to a group of high-profile bloggers. While it attracted loads of criticism, jealousy, and hype; it’s to no-one’s surprise that Microsoft and AMD were up to something.

There’s more. The laptops included a Chinese puzzle box that featured a USB flash drive. The drive came pre-loaded with a video of a woman named Loki, Microsoft’s puzzle master, in which Vanishing Point is solely based around.

Who is Loki? This question seems to be the ultimate challenge in the game Vanishing point. All that’s known, currently, is that Loki is a character with a fictional story broken into 1,000 clues that are scattered around the Internet, and in real world events. The person who reveals her true identity will have their name laser-etched onto a batch of microprocessors from AMD.

“Especially for that audience, the most technically engaged, having their name in lights like that is a pretty special thing,” said Brian Marr, the group marketing manager for Vista.

This international game challenges players to work together, extracting clues from certain global events. Each week, twelve puzzles are posted, along with footage of the real world event, which must be used together to unlock the correct answer.

The first “official” real world event was a water projection displayed outside the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas earlier in the week. Hundreds gathered around to view an image of Loki projected in the waters, showing a cryptic clue filled with indications of calendars, clocks, and time. 

More clues were unveiled yesterday delivered through cryptic sky-written messages around the world including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Miami, and Sydney. Microsoft has hinted that more offline events “could” happen later this month.

The puzzles are ingenious, and give you an optimum challenge; they seem to have a distinct similarity to the old PC game, Phantasmagoria, except the players are competing for nearly a half-million dollars in prizes.

Vanishing point has been in the works now for over a year, and all to create buzz for the launch of Windows Vista. The heart of the game was created by 42 Entertainment, a viral marketing agency based in Emeryville and Seattle in which Microsoft used to create hype for the launch of Halo 2 in 2004.

While the game is just a massive promotion, it’s almost impossible to stay away from, and it’s not too late to register and start solving puzzles. Vanishing Point promises to challenge the most brilliant minds, and it will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out.

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One Response to “Vanishing Point: addictive, online/real world game explaining Microsoft’s laptop scandal”

  1. Jason:

    Yawn – more companies deceiving Internet users to sell stuff – it will get to the stage where we will start to assumer any new site is a viral advertising` campaign…. maybe Mircosoft is behind techblorge as

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