On a lighter note, Perplex City is the reason 127 people formed a spontaneous conga line in Trafalgar Square, all in the name of puzzle-solving glory. Aside from the Cube itself being in the real world, they also use the media, be it through USA Today, coded messages in other publications or the "Lost: The Cube" stickers you may have seen here and there.

Not only do they like infiltrating lives, they like getting dark and scary, especially if they can use the player's actions to make the story take a turn for the macabre. Andrea told me about one of their earlier episodes. "Early on in the game, a character named Monica was killed because of the players' actions," she said. "And a few months later, when they were trying to track down a bad guy, they came across the recording of the murder the killer had made for himself." That was upsetting enough, but when they found the MP3, it was downright horrifying.

"The MP3 had tags in it," she continued, "Comments: 'Do you ever have the feeling that someone's watching you? When the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, when you know if you turn round you'll see them, but you don't turn round? Are you having that feeling right now?' The album is listed as: 'My Greatest Hits.' The composers are listed as: 'James, Oliver, Chris, Tim, Rob, Jamie, Guy, Ryan, Matthew, Mat, Paul, Lee, Becky, Josiah, Dee' - all Perplex City Players who were at Clapham Common [the event with the helicopter] ... The players got the recording by hacking a music label's intranet, and it became clear right about then that the file had been left there pretty much on purpose for them. And that this guy, 'V,' was several jumps ahead of them." A pause for dramatic effect. "How's that for horror?" I allow that it's pretty much perfect and then ask what it's like to plan something like that.

"Actually, it all comes down to getting into the head of your favorite psychotic killer and figuring out what he would have done. Part of it was that we really, really loved Monica. We were devastated when she died, and we wanted the recording out there partly so we could do something with that character one more time." It's not just the players who come to love the characters; it's the writers and designers, as well. And sometimes, getting into the head of their favorite psychotic killer is a little scary. She continued, "It's funny, you try to write things in character, and then you're just appalled at the things that come out of you." It makes you question yourself, like asking, "'Does this mean, deep down inside, I'm a psychotic killer/weepy annoying emo/oh so blonde?' I've had a couple of experiences by now where I've been writing the same character for a bit too long and took on some of those attributes in real life."

I pressed for an example, picturing an ARG designer stalking around like a method actor, in character all the time and very creepy. "Well," she paused before continuing. "I think I'm allowed to say this. In that Monica arc, the reason she died is because the players set up a meeting between her and another character, Sylvia. Sylvia's husband had recently been killed, presumably because he'd found out a little too much about these bad guys. And I was writing Sylvia, this woman who had lost her husband. So I kind of put myself in her place, and all of this unrestrained grief just kind of poured out. It's the kind of thing that can be both in character and kind of embarrassing all at once. And I found myself really ... blue ... all the time that I was writing on her. Once you get yourself that down to do the work, it's hard to snap right back up again, I suppose."

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