Let’s see, I can tell you a behind-the-scenes thing that was a very good life lesson for me, which is “always have a plan B.”
I was working on the Nine Inch Nails campaign, Year Zero. It’s really hard to end a campaign like that, because you have millions of people who are analyzing every aspect of the album, they are looking for clues in the music video, the t-shirts, the lyrics, and it’s reasonable, because we’ve hidden clues in all those places that unlock new bits of the story. But the question then becomes “How do you END something like that?”
So what we did was, we had about 60 of the most hardcore fans congregate on a street corner in Los Angeles, they knew where to be at what time, and then we loaded them onto a bus, and we blocked out all the windows, drove them around for a while, and unloaded them at a warehouse. They thought they were very far away, but in reality it was just a block away, we just drove around in circles for a while. But we unloaded them into a warehouse, there’s a big curtain, and then the curtain drops, and Nine Inch Nails is there, and they’re doing a private show for about 50 people.
The reaction was amazing. People lost their minds, because Trent Reznor in person is just… it’s a force. He commands your attention in a way that you are not accustomed to. All eyes are on him, and it’s the most incredible, energetic performance ever. And there’s so few people in the room that you are getting individual attention. But then the question was: how do we end THAT?
The story of Year Zero was of a dystopian future where people have lost a lot of their rights, the government has too much control, and they have to all band together as a community to take back their lives. That was the whole story, embedded in all of the songs, and it was really Trent’s message. So we ended the concert halfway through one of the last songs, and one of the walls exploded, and a SWAT team comes POURING in - wearing full SWAT gear, bulletproof vests, throwing concussion grenades, it’s terrifying. Everybody gets really scared and runs toward the one door, where the bus was waiting for them.
And that worked perfectly, except for 3 guys. There were these 3 guys who just stood there in the middle of this oncoming force. They just sat there with their arms folded, because they knew, in the back of their minds, that this was fake. They stood there, ruining the whole story. So one of the SWAT members pushed one of them up against the wall, punched them, and the guy crumbled, and then the 2 other SWAT team members started kicking him. And the other 2 guys turned and ran for the door like how they were supposed to.
The guy was a stuntman, and we placed him on the bus since the very beginning. That was my plan B. I was very happy it worked.
That’s the kind of thing you have to do to run a successful ARG game. Live events are just so hard.