Software giant Encom was made famous by top-notch arcade games such as "Space Paranoids," "Matrix Blaster" and "Vice Squad." It also happens to be the fictitious games company featured in the classic 1982 Disney film, "Tron," and Friday night in San Francisco, Encom Executive Consultant Alan Bradley took to the WonderCon stage to discuss the company's newest projects.
No, you're not going crazy. Such shenanigans were and are all part of 42 Entertainment's alternate reality game, "Flynn Lives." To hype the new movie, "Tron Legacy," (released December 17, 2010) 42 has created a series of puzzles and events that let fans become a part of the story of "Tron" as they'd previously done for projects like "The Dark Knight" and Nine Inch Nails' "Year Zero."
During the first day of the convention, people in Flynn Lives shirts passed out fliers to attendees announcing the following:
Infiltrate the Encom Press Conference!
They have their own agenda, but we're going to scramble their signal and send a message that the world really needs to hear - Kevin Flynn is out there and we must find him!
The fliers directed fans to the Grand Ballroom of the nearby Hyatt Regency, where they crowded the doors. The massive group was herded in at 6:45 and received their own "Flynn Lives" shirts along with posters and Encom employment badges.
A man in a "Flynn Lives" shirt took the stage Friday night to loud applause and recapped the events of the first "Tron" to the beginning of "Tron Legacy." He emphasized that Kevin Flynn has disappeared and Encom doesn't seem to care. "He's out there, we know he's out there!" the man said. At this time, the "mission" was finally introduced. "Instead of talking about Encom, we're going to be talking about Keven Flynn."
The speaker called for 12 leaders, which, after a chaotic scramble for spots, were broken into four groups. The first would distract the "security" at the press conference; another would prepare to storm the stage at a signal; one would spread word of the press conference; and the last will take over the sound booth and "hack" Encom's displays.
"Everyone else here," the announcer addressed the crowd, "you are all Flynn's foot soldiers... make sure everyone knows about finding Kevin Flynn." The group said to hide any Flynn-related signs and shirts in order to sneak into the press conference and then wait for a signal to begin protesting.
The audience received one more surprise before the meeting was over. "We intercepted a package of Encom labeled 'promotional material,'" the man said. "Space Paranoids" pins were then distributed and the event came to a close to the thundering yells of "Flynn lives! Flynn lives! Flynn lives!"
Later, as the clock approached 8:00pm,. fans waited diligently at the scene of 42's Encom press conference. Alan Bradley (in reality, "Tron" and "Tron Legacy" actor Bruce Boxleitner) was introduced and joked about San Francisco, "I've always wondered how a light cycle would do on these hills..."
Bradley was joined by Lora Baines (Cindy Morgan), who he introduced as his wife. So far there is no evidence that Lora will be making an appearance in "Tron Legacy."
Bradley took time to respect Kevin Flynn's memory as he introduced Encom's latest work. "I'm thrilled to say we honor Kevin's dreams with a new version of the game that put Encom on the map. Many of you spent long hours trying to gun down Recognizers in arcades all over the world. Now the Recognizer is hovering in your home, your office, your bedroom! It's in your world. It's on your computer! Ladies and gentlemen, Encom is proud to reintroduce our crown jewel, 'Space Paranoids,' soon to be released online!"
It later became apparent that something hadn't gone according to plan. Boxleitner appeared to be ad-libbing, and a woman came on stage to announce "technical difficulties." Soon though, the stage is stormed by 'protestors,' one of whom declared, "Encom has given up on the search for Kevin Flynn! He's still missing, he's still out there! While [Encom] racks up the profits off his work, 'Space Paranoids' is, was, and always will be a Kevin Flynn work of art. He sits somewhere, waiting for us to come find him. And we're not giving up, we're not giving in! We're not going to stop until Kevin Flynn is found!"
The crowd began another loud chant of "Flynn lives, Flynn lives, Flynn lives!"
Just as things seemed to be ending, the noise of a helicopter drew attendants' eyes to the sky. After a few passes, Sam Flynn (the son of Kevin Flynn and notorious for daredevil stunts) parachuted down. He was quickly scooped up by "security" and driven away.
The crowd was left confused by the events, but if 42 Entertainment's previous work is any indicator, it will all make sense eventually. A new puzzle has already begun: fans discovered the posters they were handed were black light-responsive and reveal hidden codes to the secrets of "Tron Legacy."
You can join the search at flynnlives.com.