The Beast was a game originally designed to market the Stephen Spielberg film A.I. (Wolk, "Signs…") Idea man Jordan Weisman and a team of Microsoft designers (headed by Elan Lee), joined up with award-winning science fiction writer Sean Stewart to create a game that had some very real components. Websites and blogs for fictional characters and companies led players along on a quest to discover who killed character Evan Chan, and why. The story became far more complex than a simple murder mystery (Cloudmakers). Puzzle pieces were hidden in the source code of web sites, passwords had to be cracked to gain access to 'secret' pages. Some pages were taken over by a 'rogue' A.I. The reality element went even a bit further. Players got weekly emails from a central character in the story, and could discover telephone numbers to the fictional companies' voicemail systems. Near the end of the story, one of those numbers led to a live actor (Stewart, "Alternate…"). After watching interaction and discussion among the players, the game makers (or 'puppetmasters' as players began to call them) decided to give the players a little treat by having Sean Stewart interact with players live, posing as a character who answered a phone line for a few hours on one day. Players tried to convince Stewart's character to intervene on behalf of one of the major characters, saving that characters life. It actually changed the storyline that the puppetmasters had intended, but they were too amused and astonished at players' reactions not to save the hacker character 'Red King' that had become such a player favorite.

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