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August 2, 2006

Murder Mystery Interactive Movie Launches

My cousin and his wife, the future Drs. Steven and Kara Ford, have been bragging to me for a while about their extravagant honeymoon they've planned, going on one of these murder mystery cruise ships.

I was juealous, until Siddiq Bello forwarded me news of the new interactive murder mystery movie being launched by the Toronto-based SR Entertainment. I grew up as a big fan of Clue, the board game that now has integrated a DVD, but particularly the 1985 comedy film, so I was particularly excited to read in their press release that the transmedia online film is being called "a unique blend of Clue and a choose-your-own adventure movie." (And, yes, I was one of those kids who read those books, too, although there's only so far your imagination can take you when you are constantly flipping to page 135 and then 262 and then back to 67 to find out your fate.)

The project is called Mystery at Mansfield Manor, and the launch of this film/game reminds me of the more primitive versions of PC games that included video clips in the process of solving a mystery, such as the round of Clue games in which players watched video clips to delve further into solving the age old mystery of who did it in what room and with what weapon.

The new live-action interactive murder mystery movie is playing at the project's Web site. Participants in the interactive movie have to plunk down about $7 U.S. or $8 Canadian to receive a four-day pass to the Web site for unlimimited access to go through the murder mystery.

According to the synopsis provided by the site, the story features a protagonist police detective on the night before he is scheduled to be forced into an early retirement. The detective, Frank Mitchell, has been sent to extravagant Mansfield Manor to investigate the murder of Colin Mansfield, Sr., the wealthy oil man who controlled the families fortunes.

The viewer becomes Det. Mitchell and has a time limit to solve the mystery before the story's deadline of midnight, when he will enter retirement. Rory Scherer, the impressario in charge of the whole project, acted as both producer of the game and screenwriter and is operating as public relations specialist as well, basically a one-man creative show.

According to the site, the game begins with the interrogation of the first suspect, the maid of the murder victim, who starts to reveal her memories of the evening through flashbacks. The majority of the game works through various interrogations, in which the player must decide the veracity of the various characters' statements.

The game has a variety of potential endings through what amounts to 2.5 hours of video time. According to the press release, the game "gets even more involving as some interactive components allow the viewer to become further immersed in the investigation."

In some ways, this is just the type of mini-transmedia project we've been talking about. Not having played the game, I don't know how much farther this takes things than that Clue game I played a few years ago on my PC, but I think the potential is definitely there and that more projects like this will begin scratching the surface.

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