Smokebomb, CBC take Murdoch interactive international

A new high-concept interactive game for Murdoch Mysteries aims to engage fans on and offline across five Canadian cities and the U.K.

CBC and Smokebomb Entertainment have partnered to create an interactive Murdoch Mysteries experience that will roll out over the course of six weeks, spanning five cities and two countries with the goal of engaging fans both on and offline.

From now until May 16, Murdoch Mysteries: The Infernal Device allows fans of the CBC turn-of-the-century mystery drama to transform themselves into detectives as they attempt to solve a six-week mystery that begins and ends in Toronto.

The mystery will revolve around a global conspiracy against the British monarchy with fans being enlisted to stop it before it’s too late.

With stops in different Canada cities every week – and even one in London, U.K. on May 9 – fans who come out to the historically inspired “crime scenes” will be given first access to clues behind the plot which they can share online with other fans.

It’s a sophisticated undertaking and one that relies on Murdoch’s widespread and long-held fan following, Jay Bennett, VP and creative director at Smokebomb Entertainment, told Playback Daily.

“At this stage of the series, it’s clear to us that we have a highly engaged fan base,” said Bennet, noting that the opportunity for a set visit alone drew over 4,000 registrants.

The Infernal Device was originally an idea for an online-only event, but after massive fan turn-out for the set visits, it was transformed into a way to create a physical experience for fans to connect across the globe.

“People can go out and celebrate the show and use social media,” Bennett says. “[They can] use their camera phones to gather the evidence and to transmit the evidence to other fans across the world.”

The goal then not only became creating a program people would want to engage in, but also creating something that was neither too easy nor too hard. To do that, Smokebomb has come up with two different layers of puzzles.

The first layer, made up of easier clues, is meant to be fun and easy for casual fans. The second layer is made up of harder challenges to encourages more dedicated fans to work together in order to solve them.

“We want something on its surface that is very accessible to anyone and everyone,” said Bennett. “That we create something sticky enough and engaging enough that the fans would want to sink their teeth into [it].”

For Smokebomb, the objective is to see people all across Canada and the U.K. participate in person as well as online.

“You want to go and engage people in a second screen experience, beyond simply watching the show. I think it needs to be a program that is a larger story world and clearly Murdoch Mysteries has built that. It has created something that exists beyond those 60 minutes each week,” Bennett said.

Produced with the help of the Canada Media Fund, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit and the COGECO Program Development Fund, Murdoch Mysteries will return for its ninth season this fall.