Flynn's Arcade is in San Diego - Amazing Tron Legacy Viral!
by Alex Billington
July 24, 2009
While I got to see footage from James Cameron's Avatar, Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass, and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland today, my favorite part of the day had to be the awesome viral ARG (alternate reality game) for Tron Legacy, as it's now known (instead of just Tron 2), that I participated in tonight. We've been covering the early details but it all came together tonight in the ultimate reveal - Flynn's Arcade exists and you can even play Space Paranoids the game. And if that wasn't enough, hidden in a secret room in the back was an actual new lightcycle from the movie. But you have to hear about how we got there, first!
So it all began back during Disney's panel earlier in the day for Tron 2. Unfortunately they didn't have much new footage to reveal. They showed the test teaser trailer from last year (in 3D) and some new concept art and the designs of the new lightcycles and so on. But then they showed one odd scene from the movie "early on in it" that showed Sean Flynn, played by Garrett Hedlund, going back to Flynn's Arcade where it was shut down and dust covers were covering all the old arcade machines. But he finds the old Tron machine in the back, spins it out from the wall, and heads into a secret room behind it. Foreshadowing? It definitely was!
So jump ahead to 9:30PM and a huge crowd of roughly 500 people had gathered at the cul de sac located on J Street near 1st Street as was mentioned on the website FlynnLives.com. After signing a release waiver, we were given a small package that contained instructions, a handheld blacklight, a blue marker, and an extra Flynn's Arcade coin. The instructions explained that within a small area a few blocks in each direction from where we were, we had to find various "Flynn Lives" posters (as seen above) hidden on the walls and use our blacklight to find numbers. We needed to find 3 different posters and search for coordinates.
Eventually they let the masses go and off we went on a hunt for the posters. We quickly discovered (with the help of some others around us as well) that we would need to find six coordinates from three different posters (and they were very well hidden). Luckily we found all of those three posters within a block of each other and proceeded to draw out a map on a grid. That map would then pinpoint the final location (another few blocks away) which we would have to head towards to reach our final destination. We arrived not the at the front of the pack, but in the first group, and were treated to the grand opening of Flynn's Aracde.
But didn't end there! After venturing inside (and being locked inside by some very buff security guys), we proceeded to take some photos of the arcade, play some games, and walk around. A few staff kept telling us to play some Space Paranoids - the game that Flynn plays (where he fights the Recognizers from his tank) in the original Tron at the beginning. We noticed that every time you beat a level (which was remarkably hard), it would give you a unique code. We wrote this down but didn't think much of it and ultimately it wasn't used tonight - but it may have more importance sometime in the future. Again, this wasn't the end!
About 10 minutes in, the lights started to flicker and go out. All of a sudden the Tron arcade machine in the back swung open (like in the scene we were shown earlier during the panel) and revealed a secret backroom. I whipped out my iPhone and shot a short video of us entering the room behind the Tron arcade machine and walking past some badass concept art of the new lightcycles up on the wall. Watch that video below.
But the best reveal was just beyond that. Hidden in the back was a real-life fully realized black lightcycle on a turntable - complete with trippy lighting and a sample of Daft Punk's score for the upcoming movie (which you can hear in the video). This was one hell of an awesome payoff. Not only was it great walking through the streets searching for clues on posters using blacklights, not only was it awesome stepping foot into a real life Flynn's Aracde, but then we got to see an actual lightcycle. I would love to say this thing was a working lightcycle, but of course, that isn't the case. But this thing is truly a work of art - see the video!
I've got to say - this could easily have been one of the greatest viral marketing stunts I've ever seen. You probably all heard about the joker scavenger hunt at Comic-Con a few years back - this definitely topped that one. We honestly didn't know what was happening every step of the way and it was so exciting to be a part of this. I really did get chills when I noticed that the sign above the inconspicuous building we were standing outside was a giant "Flynn's" sign. It's this kind of stuff that makes this so incredibly awesome - they know what will make fans just go crazy and they really blew our minds this time. Bravo, Disney!
We hope that there is still much more to come sometime in the near future. And we're going to see if we can find out what those codes from Space Paranoids really mean. We did end up getting a "Flynn Lives" t-shirt and poster on the way out as a bit of memorabilia. And I've heard that this might be repeated a few more times during Comic-Con if you're interested. But you'll need to check FlynnLives.com for details on that!