Six athletes from far-flung countries awake with no memories of their past, bearing tattoos written in an unfamiliar language that will lead to the discovery of a 2,000-year-old mystery. No, not another Nicolas Cage thriller, but rather the secret of "The Lost Ring," a global alternate-reality game (ARG), created in a partnership made up of McDonald's, AKQA and lead designer Jane McGonigal, in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee.
Think of ARGs as Dungeons & Dragons meets Facebook, but with less saving throws and self-portraits. In the case of "The Lost Ring" (thelostring.com), the circuitous plot explores aspects of ancient Greek mythology and how it relates to the fates of the main characters. Players are invited to participate across numerous Web sites and even in real life while employing multiple languages - not the least of which is Esperanto - to help uncover the clues that will solve the puzzle. This all leads up to an ultimate revelation promised on the final day of the 2008 Summer Games.