'The Lost Ring' ARG players discover 'lost' Canadian sport

It may be an April Fool's joke, but if not, a group of Canadian players of an alternate-reality game gather in the snow to train for the human labyrinth.

Players of the new alternate-reality game The Lost Ring take part in a training session for the 'lost sport of Olympia,' the human labyrinth late last month, according to the alternate-reality game's lead developer, Jane McGonigal. Whether or not the activity is an April Fools' joke is not entirely known. Flickr user thebruce0

Over at The New York Times on Tuesday, Stephanie Clifford has a piece (Free registration required) pointing out that McDonald's is the main sponsor of the new Olympics-themed alternate-reality game, The Lost Ring.

The piece quotes McDonald's Chief Marketing Officer Mary Dillon as saying, "The Olympics in Beijing are a very big event for us, and we have a lot of different types of activation, with The Lost Ring being the most creative. Our goal is really about strengthening our bond with the global youth culture."

I appreciated that The Times got someone from McDonald's on the record about this. When I first wrote about the fast food company's involvement, as well as that of the International Olympic Committee, last month, I didn't get a chance to speak with them, so it's good to get their thoughts on the matter.

As first reported on CNET News.com in early March, 'The Lost Ring' is sponsored by McDonald's and the International Olympic Committee. The Lost Ring

Well, it's been a couple of weeks since we had anything here about The Lost Ring or its lead designer, Jane McGonigal, or how the game works. So, it seemed like a good time to catch up with the players and see what they're up to in the snow in Canada.

It turns out that up in Kitchener, Ontario, a bunch of players spent some time over the last few days taking part training for the "lost" sport of Olympia, the human labyrinth, McGonigal told me Tuesday morning. Of course, the overarching story line of The Lost Ring is to discover the great lost sport of the Olympics.

So I trundled over to Flickr, where one of the major players of The Lost Ring, a fellow called thebruce0, or Geoff May, has a bunch of pictures from the training session.

May also posted a video of the exercise.

To my untrained eye, it's hard to tell exactly what the folks are doing in the snow up there in Kitchener. And, being that this is April 1, I suppose I should don my hat of skepticism and wonder if maybe someone's trying to play a little joke on those of us who weren't there to hear the secret whispers of those involved.

But, then again, maybe these folks really were taking part in a legitimate exercise in the long and still unraveling story line that is The Lost Ring.

Players in Kitchener, Ontario gathered in the snow for the human labyrinth training exercise. Flickr user thebruce0

I suppose if you want to find out, you'll need to dig your way through the forum threads on Unfiction.org, one of the main community Web sites devoted to ARGs.

As for me, I have to figure out what the proper revenge is to take on a colleague who has decided that today, finally, is the perfect day to discover Rickrolling and to spend the day perpetrating that crime against humanity on everyone in the newsroom she can think of.

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