Today (Wednesday 8th October) sees the finale of the first ever Young Bond alternate reality game, The Shadow War. Charlie Higson, author of the bestselling Young Bond books, will be taking part in a live online event at 5pm today.
The Shadow War, a gripping interactive online game and the first alternate reality game connected to a children’s series of books, was launched on Saturday 23rd August on www.youngbond.com. It has since seen an incredible 10,000 people taking part in a series of six missions, all set in the Young Bond world: from crossing the Alps without being caught or tracking down a ship in the dangerous Docks of London’s East End to joining the Eton Danger Society or unravelling some strange goings on in Hellebore Castle.
The seventh and final mission, set today, will see Charlie Higson taking part and helping players solve the mission. For seven nail-biting weeks, the game has put Young Bond fans and online gamers in the shoes of either a British SIS agent or a Soviet OGPU and this last mission will see each side pitted against each other, interspersed with a live video of Charlie Higson posing as a captured British soldier, held in a cell in a castle in the Austrian Alps.
The seventh mission: The OGPU and SIS are sending commando teams to attack the castle and racing to reach the control centre first. Players on each side will be collectively solving puzzles and cracking codes that will get them through the danger-filled castle. Charlie Higson will be on hand to help in the form of a captured British soldier who will regularly appear, giving each side hints about solving puzzles and updating them on the state of the battle. In addition, players will be able to submit their own questions to him. The end of game will see an unexpected turn when both sides will be forced to work together.
Charlie Higson comments: “The Shadow War has been a great way to follow the Young Bond story in a different way. Over the past few weeks kids from around the world have been working together as secret agents to crack a series of ingenious plots. It's the final stage of the game this week, and a chance for all those kids to come together in a race against time and finish the story. I'm really looking forward to playing a part in it and appearing live in the game as a British agent. I just hope the kids solve the problems in time or I risk being liquidated by a fiendish foreign power!
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 completely free of charge. Set within the Young Bond world, the game allows fans to explore familiar locations and see memorable characters from the series – including James Bond himself.
The Shadow War
The seven missions take the intrepid player through adventures in the world of Young Bond. Each mission takes 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 is a mission debrief before the next is set.
The final mission will take place live on Wednesday 8th October between 5pm and 6.30pm.
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 a million and been translated into 24 different languages. The fifth in the series, By Royal Command, was published on 3rd September 2008.
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.
Charlie Higson comments: “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. Playing ARG games is even more sociable as it requires players to share information and work together to solve clues and move forward.
“The Shadow War 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.”