Thursday, January 12, 2012
By Paul Hunter
I love discovering a good mystery. When I was younger I got hooked on The Three Investigators, Tintin and Scooby-Doo. When I was older my tastes moved on to Twin Peaks, Lost, Heavy Rain and Professor Layton. A message that is tightly wrapped in convoluted mythology has always captivated me; how did this all start? what surprises are coming next? where will this end up? More importantly, what does this all mean? These questions pique my curiosity like nothing else can.
So imagine my surprise on December 14 when I realized that a good mystery had just discovered me...
December 14, 2011
I received an email message from M.E. stating that he is a big fan of my writing and offered me a chance to join the "G-List". He explained that this group offers perks, and referenced a deal for a $95 PlayStation 3 LED 3D monitor (normally $500). As proof of the legitimacy of this offer, he points me to a highly active thread on the popular Canadian deals website RedFlagDeals:
Check it out, 34 pages of conversation, 498 replies. This thread is clearly on fire. On the first page of this post a forum member named "niwdog23" posted a picture of the G-List screen which clearly shows a Hardware deal for the 3D PlayStation TV for $95. Below there is an order confirmation showing that yes, this person snagged the TV for that exceptionally low price.
Okay, great. Some guy got a deal. I had a look at the website M.E. pointed me to -- http://www.thereisnolist.ca -- and it was evident after a minute of browsing that it was a password protected website. Moreover, it appeared as though you needed to obtain multiple keys in order to gain admission. Not to sound arrogant, but I quickly dismissed the website. It was holiday review crunch season and getting wrapped up in a time-sucking ARG was the last thing I needed. I'll have a look in the new year, I thought.
Although days went by, there was one section on that website that kept on replaying over and over in my head:
That guy in the video, as I'm sure many of you know, is Shaun Hatton, co-host of the Electric Playground and one of my closest friends in the video game industry. What in the world did Shaun have to do with this? Even with that thought in my head, I was just too busy with the holiday. I will ask in the new year.
Oh, and M.E.? I looked at the email address and it said "mistere". Mister E, ha! Funny, kind of.
December 15, 2011
Mister E writes me and answers my question about what the G-List is. Here is his description:
Our mission is simple: be the destination for gamers to congregate, share interests/stories, and get cool perks for being on the G-List.
Mister E invited me to join the G-List and take advantage of this $95 3D PlayStation TV offer, and noted that the offer expires in mere days. By this point I was interested, but I just couldn't be bothered given my tight schedule. Sure, the TV was cheap and would have been cool to get, but I didn't want the hassle of figuring out these codes. I asked Mister E if he could just give me the passwords. All right, I admit it, that was lazy of me. By this point I had already parked the idea of getting on this G-List until the new year.
January 5, 2012
Three weeks to the day, Mister E emails me, says:
I hope you and Nextgenplayer are enjoying 2012 - Happy New Year.
Would you be interested in meeting in person to discuss our project? Mister C is happy to give you an exclusive, in-person interview.
Great! Perhaps this is legit, as I thought. But who is this Mister C? I thought it was Mister E? This was getting stranger by the minute. After a few days of banter I finally agreed to meet Mister C on Tuesday,
January 10 at 6:00pm inside the Fairmont Royal Hotel in Toronto.
January 10, 2012
It's meet day. I'm filled with excitement, trepidation, elation, suspense, fear, and everything in between. I had agreed to meet a total stranger in a downtown Toronto hotel with minimal foreknowledge of what was to be discussed. "Was I insane?", I thought. Mister C sent me the following text message at 5:38pm:
At this point I still didn't have a first or last name, in fact the only clue I had was that it was a 778 area code which I immediately recognized as Vancouver. Ok, so HQ is in Vancity. That's a start.
I receive a text message from Mister C to meet him at the Epic restaurant on the main floor.
Once there, the hostess asks me "Table for one?". I chuckle and say "No, I'm actually here to meet a guy...umm I only know him as Mister C". "Right this way", she says, and takes me straight to him.
Mister C was not facing me when I arrived, and was wearing a jacket and hat. He turns around, and formally greets me as "Mister C". Okay, clearly this guy has a particular distaste for first names. He takes off his jacket and hat. I have an image of him in my head but my description will likely be very generic: white male, around 30, brown hair, short on the sides/back and longer on top, maybe 4", on the slender side. I know, not very descriptive. And no, I didn't take a photo, but in retrospect I wish I had sneaked one.
Mister C explains that he's about to show me something very few people have seen. He says "up until now we've had everyone sign a strict NDA". Apparently I was the first person Mister C has shown this to who had not been muzzled. Mister C was very forthcoming, informing me that I'm free to talk about our meeting to the public. Apparently, there is a group of "Misters", more than just C and E whom I've spoken to. Not only that, some of the Misters are in fact women, and furthermore, two of the Misters are friends with me on my personal Facebook page and follow my work closely. (Sidenote: this is creepy). The group of Misters met some time ago about the possibility of opening their PR door to one reporter in Canada -- Mister C said I was his "number three choice". He elaborated, said that another Mister convinced the group that I should be their number two choice. And then somehow I wound up being their top choice (not sure the rationale, perhaps I was distracted by the whiskey sour I had just ordered.). Then an offer came: "Paul, we are willing to talk to you as our exclusive reporter for the next 6-12 months. If this is something you would like, we will refuse to talk to any other media outlet," Mister C says. An exclusive offer? The reporter in me found this hard to say no to.
But I didn't answer him. Mister C told me to think about it for 24 hours. That was 48 hours ago and I still haven't given Mister C my reply. But he knows my answer, and I know this because Mister C did his homework.
There was a point in our conversation where Mister C asked me if I liked the TV series Lost. Of course I did, I watched all six seasons, every episode. This show was practically a religion for me. Drawing a parallel to the ABC show, Mister C called his creation the "Lost of video games". Fair enough, I could see that from my brief experience on his website three weeks prior.
Not only is his creation like Lost, I'd have to say his entire demeanor is straight from the show. Mister C knew me like a bestfriend would, it was clear from the get-go that he's been following my writing for some time. Remember when the Lost survivors encountered the Others and were shown books containing information of their life? Our conversation was that freakishly too-close-for-comfort. I assumed the Misters, who are friends with me on Facebook, were funneling Mister C information on me.
We moved on to the meat of the discussion -- his website http://www.thereisnolist.ca. Finally! Mister C showed me a screen with six codes, and said you need to unlock four of them to obtain the entrance password for the website. Here's the website:
After unlocking the password, users are then allowed to enter the site and create a community profile. When asked what he was trying to create, Mister C called it a "fraternity of hardcore gamers". If you recall the RedFlagDeals link at the top of this article, that was the home screen. There were sections for Retail, Hardware, Software, Products/Services, Trade-ins, DLC, Mobile and Media. Mister C quickly gave me some highlights:
* Ubisoft has offered a free Turkish Armour DLC outfit for Assassin's Creed: Revelations
* Victor Lucas has uploaded at least one exclusive video
* Cinema Now offered 25 free monthly rentals
* Click magazine offered a free subscription and digital download to their magazine, along with exclusive magazine covers for G-List members
And that's on top of the $95 3D PlayStation TV? This is insane.
Furthermore, Mister C said there would be a perk to get a reduced price on the PlayStation Vita bundle. I really can't divulge any more because I need more proof before I will believe this.
Every new member of this forum begins at Level 1 and are encouraged to gain levels with the promise of receiving additional perks as they rise in level. To gain a level, members can answer gaming trivia questions. There are four tiers of questions ranging from easy to super hard, and the harder the questions you answer the more experience points you gain. Once you reach Level 10 you officially become a member of the G-List. Mister C said that there are some well known people who are members of the G-List, including a television actor and a supermodel. I had a look at the community forum section of the website and indeed there were hardcore gamers discussing various topics (some threads had 80+ replies, indicating a fair level of activity).
Mister C also hinted that Future Shop is involved with this project as well, as the RedFlagDeals post would corroborate. Have a look, the guy who claimed this deal checked-out at Future Shop. I have no idea what the nature of this relationship is, nor do I know the details of the relationship with the other apparent content providers such as Ubisoft, Click Magazine, Victor Lucas, and Cinema Now.
Our conversation concluded in a dramatic way. Mister C looked down at his watch and said I have "5 minutes" before he "disappears". I asked him rapid-fire questions, and when my time was up he stood up, shook my hand, and left as he promised. I was speechless. As you can see from the length of this post, I am typically far from speechless.
Oh, and to add to the weirdness, Mister C gave me the following bill signed using his pseudonym:
What in the world did I just experience?