The Story (more or less)Edit
One of the characters, Vladimir Sirin, summarized the game to a player this way, near the beginning: "Green-'wich' is where we lay our scene. The little girl is about to go through the looking glass and after that point, she is just a pawn until she becomes a queen. Her uncle is dying. She needs to put his papers online so people can help him finish what that damned family started along time ago. You are looking at this like it is some sort of game. I assure you, it is not. She is in severe danger and with her uncle taken off the board, she will need an army to fight those wanting his papers. Of course, when she puts them online, everyone will have access to them. Then it will just be a matter of time..."
Vladimir also told us at at different point that "We must play the game so it is won, but without the pawn becoming a queen. Easier said than done though, especially given the curiosity involved. If she finds out the true meaning of her family's papers then the game will be lost. Yet her uncle knows this and is prepared to sacrifice the queen for the game. Game within a game eh?"
The "little girl" to whom Vladimir was referring was Vanessa Atalanta, a 29-year-old who liked LOLcats and going for walks under the "green line" (which a laser shines from the Royal Observatory to mark the Prime Meridian - see http://www.nmm.ac.uk/places/royal-observatory/meridian-line/) to calm down. Her birthday is May 1, 1980.
Vanessa communicated with us via Facebook, Twitter, and her Yahoo blog.
When we met Vanessa, her uncle Johan was in poor health, and wanted her to look after putting their family tree online. He also wanted her to scan certain papers he had locked in a certain desk drawer and post them online for everyone to access. Vanessa expressed wonder at why the papers had been locked up, since they were "nothing really valuable ... just maths notes and a few maps of london ... odd scribbled notes on side though," some of which seemed to be in Latin.
Vanessa was not the most computer-savvy of people, so eventually her best friend Claire agreed to put Vanessa's family tree on TribalPages for her. Through that family tree, we learned that Vanessa's mother died 10 years ago (December 11, 1999), and that her father is listed as having died the year she was born.
At first, Vanessa made trips to the library to use the scanner there, but found the library's hours, time limits for using the scanner, and so on frustrating. As each item uploaded, she added its image to a Facebook group called 73939133 (a number written on the key to the desk drawer).
Around this time, some players such as Jane Doh/dizaster were contacted by a Vladimir Sirin on Facebook, who expressed concern that "the red queen" not win "the game." We deduced that his "red queen" was Vanessa. We also figured out that he followed Vanessa to the library on one of her scanning trips; this coincided with a time when she mentioned feeling watched.
Not long after, Vanessa went on a shopping trip to buy herself a new coat as well as a multifunction printer that included a scanner at her local grocery store (I guess it must be one of those megastores that sell all kinds of stuff). While there, she met a man named John, who said she looked hot in the coat she was trying on and helped her pick out a multifunction printer.
Vanessa's computer had been given to her by her uncle, but it used to belong to her mother. When Vanessa connected the printer/scanner to the computer, it locked up, giving her an error message in binary with a spot to enter a password. We were able to decode the message and figure out Johan had set it many years ago to automatically come up if the computer detected a new device had been connected to it. It was designed to warn Vanessa's mother to be careful to ensure that the wrong people not gain access to the data that was on the computer. We were also able to figure out the password and get Vanessa back into her computer.
After some interaction with Vladimir, Vanessa told him he was "very creepey" and blocked him on Facebook. She also made the 73939133 group closed to the public at that point.
Vanessa expressed missing her mother. Among Johan's papers, she found a letter he had written to Vanessa after her mother died 10 years ago, although he never intended to give the letter to her. In the letter, Johan stated that he believed that Vanessa's mother was murdered, and did not actually commit suicide. However, he also said, "There is only one man who can fully know what happened in Oregon and he has not come back to England. Nor, do I fear, he ever will." Vanessa got very angry when she read this, I suppose because of learning this secret was kept from her for so long.
She went on a date with John right after this, and vented to him about her uncle. However, when John mentioned Johan by name--a name she had never told him--she got very angry and creeped out by John as well, and broke off contact with him.
Around this time, Vladimir challenged us all to play the Facebook application "Who Has the Biggest Brain?" How well we did determined the order in which we could choose our chess pieces later in the game.
Vanessa must have followed up on a tweet she sent in which she said she was going to confront her uncle and have it out with him, no more secrets, because later she once again stated that it was important that Johan's papers get scanned and shared online, but not with just anybody. Feeling that her computer and scanner had been compromised, she put the papers in the post to be delivered to Claire, whom she entrusted with their care and scanning. She made a couple of players officers of the 73939133 group so they could approve other legitimate people needing access and instructed us not to let Vladimir or John see the scanned items.
Once the time had run out that Vladimir had given us to do the best we could at "Who Has the Biggest Brain?", we were allowed to choose a chess piece to represent us, in descending order of our scores. Actually, TWO sets of chess pieces resulted, since Vladimir had basically encouraged Telos to become king by any means necessary, and so Telos sent Vladimir a "screenshot" of the final results but with himself photoshopped in as the winning player. Telos therefore became the king on one of the boards, and Jim Sawyer became king on the other board. If you're interested, you can see the list of who ended up with each piece at http://redqueen.wikia.com/wiki/Player_Groups . Throughout the remainder of the game, there were certain items that were only released by Vladimir to the kings, or queens, or knights, etc.
Claire warned us that the postal service in her area "is shit at best, but over Christmas...?!" Indeed, it took her a LONG time to receive the papers Vanessa had sent her.
Even before Claire received the papers in the post, she reported an odd encounter one night. She went clubbing, and was approached by a guy named John. Before she knew it, she was accepting a drink off him and having a chat with him. She thought she'd only talked with him for a couple minutes, but when he left, she discovered that two hours had passed...even though others at the club also saw them only talk for a few minutes. She decided that John must have been watching her Facebook page, and decided to avoid Facebook for a few days.
Just after the winter solstice, several players received an e-mail from a J. P. Weiller, noting that we had had Facebook contact with Vladimir Sirin, who was wanted for crimes against the English government. We were advised to interact with him no longer and to report his activities to Weiller's department by e-mail, lest we be charged with aiding and abetting a fugitive. We eventually found a hidden piece of Base64 encoded text in this e-mail, which translated to "MOVING THE SECONDS FOR NATIONAL DEFENCE". We also eventually figured out that J. P. Weiller was Jean-Pierre Weiller, often referred to as JPW and the "Jean" to whom Vladimir sometimes makes reference as an adversary.
Claire reported at the same time that her brother somehow got her computer infected with a "Weiller worm"...and that she had finally received Vanessa's uncle's papers in the mail. We eventually realized that this "Weiller worm" was, IG, the Base64 encoded piece of text--OOG it should be harmless, but IG it allowed JPW to compromise the computers that received it.
Claire eventually told us that she found every time she went to scan some of Johan's papers, something else would arise that distracted her from actually doing the scanning. It struck her that maybe she wasn't supposed to do the scanning--that perhaps some spiritual force were keeping her from doing it. She asked if she could perhaps post the papers to one of us so we could do the scanning instead. Some of us provided our addresses to Claire at this point, but due to later events in the game (as well as due to OOG reasons), we ended up not receiving any of the items.
(more to come...anyone care to take over :)?) to be never ever continued.
no description availble
Frequently-referenced items, themes, ideas, etc.Edit
- "The machine" is some machine that certain people can use to contact their ancestors (so not just anybody) in the past. Part of the conflict between JPW, Vladimir and Johan seemed to center on whether or not Vanessa should be allowed and taught how to use the machine, which would allow her to contact her dead mother--and perhaps save her from her murderer.
- Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass came up frequently.
- Chess imagery was also often used, including the chess imagery that appears in Through the Looking Glass. In Through the Looking Glass, Alice starts off as a pawn and works her way up a big chess board in Wonderland to become a queen. Vladimir was concerned that Vanessa the pawn NOT become a queen (by learning some truth about her family and Johan's papers), but that the game still be won. Also related is the Ministry of Argon slogan, "Moving the seconds for national defence"; a "second" is like a coach for chess players, and since seconds are also units of time, they also stand for the unique relationship that MoA members have with time.
- The word "sinople" was used here and there. Sinople is a word that refers to a red colour in some contexts, but a green colour in other contexts. Because red and green are complementary (opposite) colours, this gives the word sinople a duality...like a looking glass.
- The Coventry Blitz. See some IG discussion of it at http://redqueen.wikia.com/wiki/References_to_a_German_bombing_raid ; real-world information can be read at http://www.historiccoventry.co.uk/blitz/blitz.php and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coventry_Blitz . The in-game take on it is that British intelligence knew the raid was coming, but couldn't evacuate Coventry or make any other response because they didn't want the Germans to know at that time that the British had cracked the codes used in their communications, especially as they had a very important strike against the Germans planned and tipping the Germans off about knowing their secrets would've really screwed up the attack plans. However, the in-game implication is that someone among the British intelligence DID get word to their family, getting them out in time, and that this may have been done using "the machine." Whether use of "the machine" by characters during the present of the events of the ARG would have had an impact on whether an evacuation of Coventry before the Blitz happened or not was unclear.
- Butterflies - Vanessa atalanta is a kind of butterfly. Several names in her family tree are also related to butterflies. Vladimir Nabokov--who used the name Vladimir Sirin as a pseudonym--studied butterfly genitalia (not a weird thing, but an accepted method for distinguishing various species of butterflies). Claire Hoskyns mentioned that in the plotless dream she had, one of the images was of "a lot of butterflies, all flapping their wings in a glass case". In late December, Vladimir told us to "Watch the pendulum swing, and understand all about the butterflies. They are not, and never will be, just decoration." While discussing the Coventry Blitz, Vladimir also mentioned "children scattered everywhere, like butterflies..." Some of the puzzles involved identifying butterflies shown in various photos.
- Saints and their feast days
- A whole section of the game was based around the imagery of the trump cards of the Tarot deck, especially the Rider-Waite version of the deck. A Wikipedia article about the deck containing images of each of the cards can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rider-Waite_tarot_deck .