Lost Fans Find Internet Thrills Via Wikis, Games, Second Life - InformationWeek
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Lost Fans Find Internet Thrills Via Wikis, Games, Second Life

Fans and producers of the hit TV show Lost are taking to the Internet, building a wiki, alternate reality games, communities, and a virtual island in Second Life to explore the world of the ABC show.

You wouldn't want to live on the Lost island, what with all the bugs and humidity and crazy people running around. But now you can visit the island from the comfort of your desk chair, due to the efforts of a group of fans in Second Life. They're building a reproduction of the island in-world, holding regular meetings to discuss details of the episodes, and have started a couple of games based on the show. They have trivia quizzes on Sundays, and send players out on mini-missions during the week -- for example, during one mission, players had to guess the combination of a locked door, using numbers which figured in episodes of Lost.

Interviewing Campetin and Samantha in the sitting area of the Swan in SL-Lost.
(click for image gallery)

I met with the club leaders of SL-Lost twice: First, in the sitting area of their reproduction of the Swan, the underground research station where much of the action of the second season of Lost takes place. They sat on the sprung-out couch next to the bookshelves and we talked over text chat. We were constantly interrupted by incoming visitors, testimony to the popularity of the new area.

The second time we met on a small platform, high above the island, where we'd have more privacy.

In addition to the Swan, the SL-Lost group has created a reproduction of the survivors' camp on the beach, the menacing jungle, Jacob's cabin, and more. In the Swan, an alarm goes off regularly and users have to press the button on the computer every 108 minutes to re-set a panel of numbers, just like on the show.

Unai Rodriguez, 19, whose Second Life name is Campetin Hoorenbeek, is one of the leaders of SL-Lost. He's a high school student who lives in the Basque region between Spain and France. The other leader is Karen Fuller (SL: Samantha Kuncoro), 34, of Syracuse, N.Y., a mother of three, homemaker, and part-time provider of respite care for families of children with developmental disabilities. They met through Second Life.

The story of SL-Lost is a mystery fitting the show itself. The founder of the group is a mysterious benefactor who went by the name Yisas Morigi. Rodriguez and Fuller say they don't know who he is -- or was -- in real life, and have no way of getting in touch with him. After founding SL-Lost, he began spending less time in-world, going long periods without logging in, and eventually, in October, he disappeared.

"One day he came, closed the island for everyone, and then the island and his avatar disappeared. He said he was very busy in RL [real life]," Rodriguez said in text chat.

Morigi's disappearance set off a panic in the Second Life group. "I was on the island at 11 a.m. and one hour later it was gone," Rodriguez said. Rodriguez tried to e-mail Morigi, but didn't get a response. (He says he's since lost Morigi's address -- he didn't bother hanging onto it because Morigi didn't respond.)

After a month asking Linden Lab to reopen the island so SL-Lost could retrieve its digital creations, the company opened it for 24 hours. Club members copied as many buildings and other elements of the landscape as they could, before the island shut down again, for good.

Later last year, the SL-Lost group, now headed up by Rodriguez and Fuller, built a new meeting room and, later still, they started to rebuild the island. The area is growing. SL-Lost is financially supported by Rodriguez, Fuller, and club members out of their own pockets.

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