Alternate Reality Gaming is an exciting and fairly new genre in which fantasy stories “leak” into the real world. Brought into the national spotlight by Halo 2’s popular “I Love Bees” campaign, the ARG world is full of good and not-so-good attempts to recreate that magic. We’ve reported extensively on the ARG for Endgame. Now let’s talk about another post apocalyptic Alternate Reality Game – 10 Cloverfield Lane.
The 10 Cloverfield Lane ARG is one of the best, most exciting, and well thought out ARG’s we’ve ever seen. Far from being hastily thrown together, this alternative reality game has been lovingly crafted and carefully intertwined with the movie. Participants have received voicemails from John Goodman’s character Howard Stambler, who has also left dead-drops of supply caches and burner phones for players to find. Want to know more about this exciting ARG experience? You’ve come to the right place.
If you haven’t seen 10 Cloverfield lane, then go do that right now! Otherwise, you’ll get spoiled.
The Missing Puzzle Pieces
Life in a fallout shelter can be tedious. At one point in the movie 10 Cloverfield Lane, the characters get so bored that they even resort to putting a puzzle together. They soon discover that several pieces were missing. (*Thanks for the correction ProjectMirai!) Only the 10 Cloverfield Lane ARG participants know why – and it’s a doozy. Here’s the scoop:
John Goodman’s character Howard Stambler, as twisted as he is, is also something of a romantic. You see, he knew that the world was in trouble, and made careful preparations for his estranged daughter to find him once the shit hits the fan.
One of the preparations involves an ammo box that he buried in a field. He filled it with several useful items, a handwritten note, and two puzzle pieces:
These same pieces, it turns out, are the ones the movie protagonists spend time looking for. It’s as though Howard hid it in that ammo box thinking that, once his daughter had returned to him, she could complete the puzzle of his life. They would be a family again and all would be right. It’s kind of touching, if you think about it. And, to me, it adds a whole new appreciation for the character of Howard.
But, of course, we all know that it didn’t happen quite like Howard imagined. As they say, the best laid plans of mice and men… Instead of his daughter, some random guy found Howard’s ammo box, the note, and the puzzle pieces. He even uploaded a video of the whole affair.
As you can see from the video, the ammo box also contained emergency supplies and several USB drives full of cryptic information. All of this is available online for your consumption – thanks to a fantastic community of ARG gamers who will happily share their finds with anyone who wants to know. Details can be found at the end of this article.
Five cool things about the 10 Cloverfield Lane ARG
I don’t have time to tell you about all the cool stuff going on with this ARG, but here are some of the highlights from my research:
1. There’s more proof that the movies are connected.
2. You can even play Howard’s homemade survival sim.
Fans noticed that in Howard’s photo, you can see that his shirt says “radioman70”. If you go to radioman70.com, you’ll be redirected to funandprettythings.com. This is a website that Howard constructed for his daughter. He did this as a way to communicate with her, despite a restraining order and without her mother’s knowledge.
Notice the missing letters in one of the pictures? They spell MEGAN, which is Howard’s in-show daughter’s name.
Now click the picture with a computer monitor in it and type “Do you want to talk?”
You will be sent to a private chat room that Howard set up for his daughter. So far, no one has correctly guessed the password that allows you to comment. (Some gamers believe this puzzle is either dead or has no correct answer.)
This got me thinking. How in the world did they figure out the “Do you want to talk” password? Well, apparently the picture you click is from a movie called Pretty in Pink. “Do you want to talk” is a line from that scene. I’m told it took the gamers about five minutes to figure that one out. Personally, I might never have passed that particular test.
See if you can beat my score. My first run was 640 days starting with four people. To be fair, we were a family of three for the majority of that time.
3. Check Out What Howard Hid in a Locker in Chicago
When reddit user The_Magic_Jesus hit over 1060 days on the survival simulator, he received a message (from Howard to Megan) that gave a location in Chicago, a locker number, and the code to the locker.
The contents of the locker:
Inside this bag was a flip telephone. Howard used this to try to communicate with Megan in the days leading up to the disaster.
Don’t ask me how, but someone noticed a now-expired Craigslist listing. It had a picture of silverware, and in the background you can clearly see a kid’s binder labeled Megan.
The Craigslist description read:
I have an antique set of sterling silverware to sell. They’re all in excellent condition. I don’t know the exact age, but it’s a service for 6, with a total of 60 pieces. It comes in a nice wood box with red velvet lining and was made by the National Silver Company from Sheffield, England.$500 obo
It turns out that Howard’s ex is selling his family heirloom silverware. Several players contacted her and had conversations about Howard, Megan, and getting the police involved to stop Howard. Read all about it at these links:
In the long conversation linked above, one gamer decided to share Howard’s secret website with the ex wife Denise. Denise then proceeds to write in the chat room on Howard’s website, and call the police on him. I love this kind of realism and attention to detail!
5. More About the Ammo box
Remember how that guy I mentioned above dug up an ammo box full of cool stuff. How did he find that? It’s actually a pretty cool story.
I contacted the guy who dug up the box, reddit user MugensKeeper, to get the skinny:
The coordinates were a group effort. People on Reddit, Discord, and Unfiction discovered that there were 5 slightly different trailers playing before movies such as Deadpool at select theatres. The trailers themselves were the same; however, each had an still image that flashed at the end of the trailer. People went to theaters and took video of these trailers where it was discovered that there were numbers and symbols buried in each one. For example, one was a picture of a stuufed monkey dressed in a Navy uniform. On each sleeve, there were numbers. One had a 9, the other a -9. This was the biggest lead in determining they were coordinates. In another there was 30.6, which lead us to Covington, La.I went out the first time with four suspected correct number combinations and found nothing. Then someone discovered separate YouTube accounts under names such as “On Deck” and sailor monkey. These were hi def versions and we found that we had missed a 75 in our pictures. That was the final piece.
I was at work when people put together the final pieces and i was alerted, via text, by u/the_stoned_ape of the news. Another user noted that the coordinates had been used previously as a geocache location. The lead looked solid, so I decided when I got off of work at 7:30 that morning, I would take one more trip to Covington.
I ran home and grabbed a shovel, just in case, and drove out. There I found a empty Swamp Pop bottle on top of a small mound of freshly dug Earth, and started digging until I hit the case.
The total contents of MugensKepper’s ammo box was:
• Gas mask • Poncho • Orange duct tape • Angle head flashlight (with 4 colored lenses) • Utility Cord • Puzzle pieces (2 total – make up the eye of the Catfish puzzle missing in the movie) • Hatchet • Batteries • Heating packs (not sure if these were for a stove) • Canned emergency drinking water (2 cans) • Matches (2 boxes) • Emergency blanket • Can opener • Compass/whistle • Glowsticks (2) • Apple-Cinnamon bar • MREs x 5 • USB — Swiss Army knife • USB – Bottle opener
Getting Started – Playing 10 Cloverfield Lane’s ARG
First of all, this game may or may not be DEAD. The last major update seems to coincide with the release of the movie. If that is the case, then the movie is suspected to have taken place in “real time” as far as the ARG is concerned. In other words Howard, the ARG protagonist, fled to his bunker and is now dead.
But if you want to dive into this ARG storyline, then your first step should be to read the timeline of events.
10 Cloverfield Lane ARG Timeline of Events – 2 GREAT Links