In 1982, “Tron” became a landmark moment in pop culture for its prescient imagery and concepts. In December, the light cycles will roll again in the Disney revival project “Tron: Legacy.” The film already has stirred the imagination and passion of “Tron” devotees, among them Jay West, a “super fan” who has been writing guest columns for Hero Complex about the buildup to the movie. Here’s his newest dispatch.
“Now that is a big door.” That’s a line uttered by video-game programmer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) as he broke into the Encom corporation in the 1982 film “Tron.” The break-in is a key plot element — Flynn wants proof that his work has been stolen — and, as you can see in the scenes above, he’s aided by two Encom employees, Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) and Lora Baines (Cindy Morgan).
That 28-year-old on-screen scenario is echoed in the new alternate-reality game (ARG) that has been created to promote “Tron: Legacy” and can be accessed at the Flynn Lives website. The game presents the search for Kevin Flynn, who “disappeared” some 20 years ago.
In a new element of the ARG, an online game recently was unveiled at the retro-spirited Arcade Aid website. Players who successfully completed the game were given the opportunity to request a personalized Encom corporate badge, which would then be mailed to them. It’s a fun collectible that arrived in my mailbox; the laminated badge has a hologram emblem and came complete with an Encom lanyard.
On the back of the badge, it states: “For authorized use only. This badge is intended exclusively for Encom employees with Group 7 Security Clearance. If the photo on the front differs in appearance from the person carrying it, please report the offending party to your supervisor at once. Encom is serious about security”
That Group 7 clearance, by the way, is the same level that Bradley and Baines had in the original film. The badge also arrived with a note (written on the stationery of Arcade Aid, which is presented as a repair shop for vintage arcade machines) and this message:
I’ve been cranking out these badges in my workroom (behind Arcade Aid). Well, you don’t know the half of it. I’ve also been working my magic on the ENCOM system so that you can access it using the unique ID number on your badge. Your password is the same one you use over at FlynnLives.com — please note: only this password/ID combination will work (as I said — workin’ my magic, but that’s the furthest magic can go). This is the hardest I’ve worked since the first time I beat Astro-Gunner back in ’87 (I was on that machine for three days straight — still have the calluses to prove it). Time to take a break and … play some Astro-Gunner. — Zack
The badge also includes a QR Code (“Quick Response” code) that, when scanned, links to a special website for “Encom employees” to log in by way of the Encom intranet. Using the necessary log-in information, I was able to “break in” to the company website, which even had employee e-mails you could snoop through.
More interesting, the page made it clear that a large ARG moment will be staged during WonderCon in San Francisco, April 2-4; there’s a post on the company page with an image of the San Francisco skyline and a reference to “the Encom press conference” and the note that “our West Coast affiliates are brimming with anticipation.” And, indeed, a few days later, on the public Encom International website there was an announcement that Encom Executive Consultant Alan Bradley (Boxleitner) himself would be part of a press conference in San Francisco in Justin Herman Plaza at 8 p.m. April 2.
Here’s that faux press release and, inset, the photo from the website:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
ALAN BRADLEY TO HEADLINE MAJOR ENCOM PRODUCT ANNOUNCEMENT
March 24th, 2010
Newly-minted Executive Consultant Alan Bradley will introduce the latest addition to the Encom International product library on April 2 in San Francisco.
Software giant Encom ushered in the digital age with an unrivaled library of gaming titles. Now, Encom International circles the globe with advanced software systems that include communications, sports, entertainment, navigation, agricultural, health care, construction, weather, military and governmental applications on every continent.
Bradley began his career with Encom as a security systems engineer and rose through the ranks to be named CEO in the early 1990s. When he exited the executive suite, he took on a far greater role. His visionary research turned Encom into the industry leader in sustainable production and distribution methods — methods which are now the best practices for technology companies around the world. “Whether the challenge is to establish communications in a national disaster, or keep kids engaged as they battle Recognizers, I love what I do. Encom will always be my home. “
CEO Kurt Hardington sums it up this way: “Alan’s new title and role reflect his unique position as part of the Encom story. He keeps us grounded, yet he’s the first to move forward when technology takes us in a new direction. That’s why he’s perfect to present our newest product – it’s where we’ve come from and where we’re going.” Alan Bradley will take the stage at 8pm in Justin Herman Plaza on April 2 to unveil the next generation in Encom innovation.
Clearly, in San Francisco, the big door will open even wider for ARG players in search of Kevin Flynn and the world of “Tron: Legacy.” I’ll be there and will update Hero Complex readers on one of the most elaborate buildups to any movie in recent years.
— Jay West
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Photos: Walt Disney Studios; ID badge photo by Jay West