On Saturday 23rd August 2008, Puffin Books launches the Young Bond alternate reality game, The Shadow War on www.youngbond.com. This groundbreaking game is the first alternate reality game made specifically for children around books. The launch precedes publication of the fifth book in Charlie Higson’s best-selling Young Bond series, By Royal Command, on 3rd September 2008.
The Shadow War is a gripping interactive online game which will put Young Bond fans in the shoes of a British SIS agent or a Soviet OGPU spy. They will embark on a story that spans seven missions over seven weeks. The game starts on the 23rd August, when Charlie Higson sets the first mission during his appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Players around the world will use a range of media, including the Young Bond books themselves and the worldwide web, to complete the missions and influence the outcome of the game.
Written by Charlie Higson and developed by specialist creators of alternate reality games Six to Start, The Shadow War is an innovative combination of reading, story-telling and online gaming. It is designed for children aged 9 plus, but can be enjoyed by adults too, and is played free of charge. Set within the Young Bond world, the game will allow fans to explore familiar locations and see memorable characters from the series – including James Bond himself.
Charlie Higson comments, “I'm really excited about this new Young Bond game, which offers a parallel experience to reading the books. As it is a perfect combination of game playing and poking about on the internet, it’s right up my street. My only regret is that I won’t be able to play it myself as I have been so closely involved in the design of it!”
Since Monday 11th August, fans have been signing up to play the game on the Young Bond website www.youngbond.com. The game culminates on 8th October with a live event, hosted on the game site and featuring Charlie Higson, in which players will be able to ask questions and influence the end of the game.
Adrian Hon, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Six to Start comments, “The Shadow War is the first alternate reality game aimed at children, allowing players to enter the world of Young Bond. Fans of the books will have an unprecedented opportunity to see the places they've read about and find out more about the key characters. It's one of the first games to cross over with such a famous and popular series, and to take place entirely on the web, for free.”
The Shadow War will appeal to the huge online gaming and Bond communities as well as the thirty-five thousand members of The Danger Society - the Young Bond fan club on www.youngbond.com.
Emily Cox, Marketing Manager, Puffin Books comments, 'Children are increasingly spending their time online for their entertainment and information. With The Shadow War Puffin is taking the lead in creating an opportunity for young people to interact with one of our biggest brands in a unique and innovative way online. We are taking our books directly to young readers.'
The Shadow War
The seven missions will take the intrepid player through adventures in the world of Young Bond: from discovering who escaped the fire at SilverFin’s Hellebore Castle to tracking a ship down in the Royal Docks, uncovering a secret code in a bookshop where a gruesome murder has taken place and revealing the mysterious passenger of an airship crossing the Alps.
Each mission will take up to an hour to complete and players can join and leave at any point, as well as change sides. At the end of each mission there will be a mission debrief before the next is set.
Six to Start
The Shadow War has been developed by specialist, cutting-edge alternate reality game creators Six to Start, working closely with Charlie Higson and Puffin Books.
Dan Hon, Co-founder and CEO of Six to Start has been at the forefront of alternate reality gaming since its inception in 2001, when he co-moderated the groundbreaking online community Cloudmakers, formed to play The Beast, Microsoft’s production for AI. Dan was one of the UK’s first bloggers.
Adrian Hon, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Six to Start, is one of the world’s leading alternate reality game designers, having been influential in the genre since its birth. Previously, Adrian was Director of Play at Mind Candy, where he designed and produced Perplex City, the world’s first commercially successful alternate reality game.
Penguin has previously worked with Six to Start on the digital fiction initiative We Tell Stories, which saw more than 150,000 people visiting the website during the six weeks it ran.
Charlie Higson is author of five Young Bond books which have, to date, sold over three-quarters of a million copies and been translated into 24 different languages.
The Young Bond titles are included in a recent list of books compiled by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the School Libraries Association to encourage school boys to read (www.boysintobooks.co.uk). Charlie also contributed to the World Book Day / Evans Schools competition this year which challenged children across the country to write their own short stories.
Full quote from Charlie Higson:
“People often ask me what my working day is. I tell them I do regular office hours, a strict nine to five at my computer. What I don’t always tell them is that far too much of that ‘working’ day is spent playing games on my computer and poking around on the internet. By playing online you are playing against real people, not the computer, and it adds a very exciting and addictive edge. Playing computer games is often dismissed as a solitary, antisocial activity, but playing online with other people is surprisingly social. I've seen how my own boys play games - sharing with their mates, talking to each other over headsets, chatting about tactics on the way to school, typing messages during game play with enviable speed and accuracy. Actually playing games is a very communal activity. Paying ARG games is even more sociable as it requires players to share information and work together to solve clues and move forward.
“I'm really excited about this new Young Bond game, which offers a parallel experience to reading the books. As it is a perfect combination of game playing and poking about on the internet, it’s right up my street. My only regret is that I won’t be able to play it myself as I have been so closely involved in the design of it!”