Lost Again "¦ or "¦ how to keep fans engaged in the off season part 2

What do Breaking Strain, Heir Apparent, The Mouthpiece, Survivor Guilt, Inmate Asylum, and Heavy Water all have in common? Not much really, but they do all happen to be passwords that allow players of "The Lost Experience" to gain access to clues. Clues to what you might ask? Well we aren’t really sure exactly, but if you ask us the whole thing is a clue into how to get your fan base to stay engaged in a TV show without showing a single new episode for nearly four months.As it turns out we had no idea how big this Lost thing really is. The creators of Lost have come up with an ingenious way to keep their fanbase coming back for more, literally day after day for four months without the obscene expense of actually producing a new episode. It’s called "The Lost Experience" and it’s an interactive online game that involves a mysterious woman that goes by the name of Persephone. Persephone is a supposed hacker that has infiltrated the Hanso Foundation website and is leaving a series of "Easter Egg" style clues throughout the site. By figuring out different passwords you can gain access to these Easter Eggs and find out more about The Hanso Foundation. In addition ABC has gone to great lengths to in fact establish some question among players as to whether The Hanso Foundation may in fact be a real organization. They have even alluded in recent days that the events portrayed on Lost, while fictional, may be a re-enactment of actual events.

The game is essentially a cooperative effort between ABC a series of Blog sites and their advertising partners. The clues and passwords are found by piecing bits of information together form a variety of places including partner advertisements such as Sprite’s sublymonal.com and Monster’s hansocareers.com . Don’t be fooled though, finding these passwords is in most cases is no easy feat and requires a substantial quotient of techie know how. In fact it appears that ABC knows their target audience quite well for this sort of interactive game. To find one password players had to convert a series of numbers into letters using a Base64 decoder and then solving an anagram using the letters it produced. If you want to play around with Base64 coding (and who wouldn’t?!) you can do it at paulschou.com/tools/xlate/ . Once you find the password you’re actually only half way there on most of the clues. Players have to then figure out how to properly implement the password on the Hanso site to gain access to information Persephone has left for them.

ABC has gone all out with this game and done a great job of integrating it into all of their media channels. They are also leveraging the popularity of Lost and the game to proper up ratings for a variety of their other shows. The "fake" ads for The Hanso Foundation have been running during a variety of shows on the network. Purportedly these ads all contain clues in the game and ABC doesn’t tell viewers when the ads will air. This has the diehards watching ABC more then ever before hoping to be the first to spot that one elusive clue. Beyond the ads, ABC has even integrated the game into its other programming. On May 24th Jimmy Kimmel interviewed Hugh McIntyre on Jimmy Kimmel live. Hugh McIntyre is the supposed Communications Director for The Hanso Foundation. You can see a video of the show yourself on YouTube (Hugh McIntyre on Jimmy Kimmel Live) .

It appears that ABC has been working on this one for quite sometime. The list of game related sites out there is growing practically exponentially.

Clear ABC or Sponsor Connection

Blogs That are Officially Connected (ABC sponsored)
Inside the Experience
UK Channel 4 Blog

Fan and Player Blogs

Other Sites that May or may not be Connected "¦ It’s hard to tell for sure in some cases

Forums and Fan Sites
The Fuselage
The Black Rock
Interactive Game Reference Thread

(Special Props to David over at thelostexperienceclues.blogspot.com for actually compiling the original list of related sites)

Some of these sites are rapidly growing into some pretty substantial 800 lb Polar Bears (on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific "¦). In May, The Hanso Foundation site averaged 96,000 visitors per week with 84% more visitors in the last week of May compared to the first week. Even the blog sites are starting draw some heavy traffic with nearly 17,000 visitors to ABC operated insidetheexperience.com and nearly 6,500 visitors to Fan site andfound.com in May. So far in June, the second month of the game, the numbers are continuing to climb.

Want to check it out for yourself? Go to thehansofoundation.org then navigate to the "Newsletter (Sign up)" and type a user name of your choice into the screen name box. When Persephone asks for the password type in "Breaking Strain." This is the first clue in the game and also serves as the login to gain access to all the other clues on the site. All though be warned "¦ as intended by ABC, this game can be highly addictive.

Now you’ll know what we’re up to if this blog isn’t updated at some point in the next four months!

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