Gaming the Game

The Cloudmakers group was formed to solve the mystery surrounding the death of fictional character Evan Chan, which eventually turned out to be a game called "The Beast" by it's creators, and designed to promote the upcoming Steven Spielberg movie, A.I. The Cloudmakers group was formed on the Yahoo! Groups service on April 11, 2001.

On April 12, 2001, an individual appeared in the IRC chat room used by some of the Cloudmakers for real-time interaction. Known as "celia," this individual was first believed to be in-game due her strange conversational style and constant quoting from works and along themes that were also utilized within The Beast.

Eventually, the players realized that celia was not in fact in-game. Some reviled her as a troll and a hoaxer, while others would still find some meaning or connection to the game in her words. Celia never stepped forward to admit who she really was and eventually stopped appearing, except at rare and seemingly random intervals.

Late at night on April 11, 2003, she appeared in channel again. It appeared that, for celia, the date was already April 12, and this visit marked the second anniversary of celia's initial appearance. At first, celia talked to the mostly sleeping channel, and then messaged me privately. We engaged in a chat that provided an interesting insight into celia's fifth column approach to the original Alternate Reality Game.

The following has been edited from the original format for readability. A copy of the original log is available here.

SB: What anniversary are you celebrating? The Cloudmakers' birthday was April 11th.

CELIA: Mine, of course. The devil is in the details. So is God. Of course, when is a red herring not?

SB: Are you really the original celia?

CELIA: I am.

SB: What was up with that? The puppetmasters said it wasn't one of them; why bother?

CELIA: Mmmm, whispered thoughts for a dark Easter season.

SB: Is there any way you could prove you're the original? It might make for an interesting anniversary interview. Actually, you talk in so many circles, it would probably be interesting regardless.

CELIA: I remember my first IRC chat was two years ago today, in #evanchan. I always link through Aint It Cool News. My first curve ball was feeding quotes about the 'fawn' in Alice in Wonderland as well as references to the Beatles' 'I am the Walrus.' But I believe people may have begun copycatting me.

I made up celia from 'Alice' — because the Alice robot site was a big reference in the game's premise.

SB: There were a lot of Alice in Wonderland references in the game, so that threw people again later. People started to think you were real after all.

CELIA: That's why i threw in the fawn.

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