A few months back we reported the launch of an ARG for the highly anticipated adaptation of The Hunger Games. But hours after our article went up, we quickly had to take it down. We were informed that Lionsgate (the studio behind the adaptation) was not behind the marketing and that the sites were being taken down. But now that Lionsgate has launched thecapitol.pn site, it appears that Panem October is back in full swing. Recently, Rowan the Gamemaster, the creator of the Panem October ARG, has come out and given an interview with movies.com to talk about the ARG and the situation with Lionsgate.
Rowan first talked about how he approached Lionsgate with the idea of a Hunger Games viral,
I actually approached Lionsgate’s marketing team before our original website went live back in April, and pitched to them the idea and requested that we work together to create something incredible for the fans. Days turned into weeks and I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for Lionsgate to be involved. We launched the website shortly after realizing there would be no working relationship and decided to be 100% powered by fan volunteers.
As you all know the site launched without a hitch, and soon sites began to write about the viral game not knowing that Lionsgate was not behind it. Of course you know what happened after. But here is Rowan’s account of the events that transpired.
We received a letter from Lionsgate legal department in June, two to three months after we initially contacted them, asking us to take down our websites because of a few reasons. We learned that Lionsgate has two marketing departments: a marketing department for Lionsgate as a company and a theatrical marketing department for advertising new films. We were accidentally speaking with Lionsgate’s main marketing department and not the one responsible for advertising The Hunger Games film. Because of this miscommunication and the rising popularity of our website, websites were beginning to think that our website belonged to Lionsgate and it was being promoted by various sources as the official viral campaign for The Hunger Games film, thus causing Lionsgate to take action. We assume that because of the theatrical marketing department not knowing that we were communicating with Lionsgate’s other marketing department and not knowing who we are or what we were doing, they panicked and sent us the takedown requests. Of course we wanted to cooperate with Lionsgate regardless, so we did what they asked and removed our old addresses, www.hungergamestesserae.com and www.welcometopanem.com. We have attempted since then to make contact, but with no success, so we decided to re-launch the website under a new name and with much better disclaimers, saying we were unofficial and fan-made and that it was our goal to make an amazing experience for Hunger Games fans.
Addressing the key differences between Panem October and TheCapitol.pn, Rowan said,
Well, we haven’t seen much more from TheCapitol lately, so I’m not too sure what’s going on over there. They definitely seem to be working on an ARG, but there’s no telling how extensive it might be. The only definitive difference between our ARGs we can identify thus far is that TheCapitol has a countdown clock for the Hunger Games, which will end the day the movie is released. Our countdown clock, which the fans don’t really know much about, is not counting down to the Reaping, like many believe. Our clock is currently counting down to the beginning of our ARG. The big difference we can already see is that the Hunger Games will actually happen during our game. We will put the fans into the books themselves and make them feel as if they were living in Panem while the Hunger Games are happening.
Rowan says that the game was intended to be a six month long campaign, and that Lionsgate situation forced them to be behind schedule. But now that they are caught up fans of the Hunger Games can expect big things on October 1st. When the date hits, fans will be able to experience the world of Panem October just before the games begins. According to Rowan, the idea is to have the fans feel like they are living in a dystopian environment and that their involvement weighs heavily on the outcome of those who are participating in the Games.
Rowan plans to integrate social networks like Twitter and Facebook so users can connect with their characters that are developed throughout the storyline of Panem October.