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This guide is intended to act as an easy-to-read, informal guide to the Lost Experience. It attempts to explain the concept of the alternate reality game, and give information on the stages of the experience. It furthermore includes a "story so far" segment, which acts as an effective summary of Rachel Blake (the main protagonist in the tale). Of course, the Lost Experience is a very broad game, and information will inevitably be neglected in favour of a concise article. If, however, you feel Lostpedia had made a great omission in this summary, please leave your comments here. For a more direct list of what has been revealed about Lost that you might want to know before watching season 3, see this page.
What Is The Lost Experience?
The Lost Experience is, in a nutshell, a game. Due to the success of the show Lost, the writers and producers wanted to do something, not unique, but rarely touched upon. They wanted something that people all over the world could get involved in, a way by which they could fuel the obsessive legions of fans the show had managed to gather with its excruciatingly rhetorical mysteries. On a momentus October morn, representatives from the US, UK and Australia sat down and discussed. They discussed what they wanted the game to be like, what they wanted it to revolve around. After hours of probable arguing and Sawyer-esque name calling, they agreed on the backstory for the DHARMA Initiative.
You remember them, right? Re-watch Lost Season 2. All those stations on the island, they're apparently owned by DHARMA, and on the Orientation videos in the show there's copyright of the Hanso Foundation 1980. They own DHARMA, and so the backstory is basically all about them and why...why did they build stations on a mysterious tropical island? Why did they create DHARMA in the first place?
OK, but what is The Lost Experience...????
Most explanations usually stop there, but we understand that some people have extra questions - namely, "right...but what is it YOU do?" Well, TPTB (thats the powers that be - what we call the people who make the game) create a narrative on the net. They hide videos, blogs, audios - all part of the game, each advancing the story into new areas. Fans so far believe there's five acts to the story, and gamers progress through them as they discover revelations that are slowly leaked on the net. What one must understand though is the idea of it, its supposed to be an alternate reality game, its supposed to make people believe it is REAL! The websites are real websites, they act like its reality. They have adverts on television, real adverts. They have chat show interviews with people from The Hanso Foundation. Its all part of the game, and one thing that puts potential players off is trying to get their heads around this. Once you do, you've got it, and even if you don't want to play (which many people do not, as its hard to find the clues etc), you can still enjoy learning some of the things others' find by going through the information on Lostpedia (some Lost Experience revelations WILL be key to the show, it has been confirmed). Some clues are very off-putting, involving knowledge of formula to unlock them. Don't worry about that, 99.9% of players can't do it either, they just get the helping hand from the 0.1 who can.
Channel 4 placed an advert during the Season 2 premiere of Lost in the UK. This was the launch of the Lost Experience. The advert was for the Hanso foundation, and gave viewers a number to ring. On the line were several messages for Hanso employees, some of which talked about "Sri Lanka". In the middle of this was a cryptic message mentioning the Hanso Foundation's website...as well as the password "breaking strain".
This was the first website of the game (it wouldn't be the last). It was similar to going on a hospital website, with proud information on active projects and how the Foundation was "reaching out for a better tomorrow" to aid suffering in the world and all that talk one would expect from a REAL philantropic website. Signing up to their newsletter, however, made things much more interesting. One would receive a message from "Persephone" (the same woman who'd told players the password from the phone line). Enterring the "breaking strain" effectively logged gamers on, and now that the site had been set game-mode ON, everything changed. Clicking on pictures opened up hidden pages supposedly hacked and created by Persephone. Passwords were hidden on other "in-game" sites (which will be discussed later) that meant you could log-in to find other secrets.
No-one at this point had any idea that they were getting themselves into something that would last for so long - they simply thought it was like an easter egg that would lead to a couple of deleted scenes etc.
The website introduced a number of characters, as well as some revelations about them. Below is a small rogues gallery:
Its easier to think of him as Mr McDonalds in a liable kind of way. He set up the Hanso Foundation and so it was thus named after him. Persephone dug deep and gave information about how he'd previously worked as a weapons expert in Copenhagen, and possible connections to the Nazis. So basically he didn't sound like the kind of person who'd suddenly create a charitable health organisation in a moment of clarity. Not only that, he disappeared in 2002 and hasn't been heard from since. The Foundation deny he's missing, simply saying he's a private man, but Persephone thinks there's more to it than that...
Hanso's second-in-command, though not by much. Since Hanso myteriously removed himself from the public eye, it seems Mittelwerk has filled the void as head of the executive board. At the time of the start of the game, Mittelwerk is firmly in charge of the Foundation, pretty much making every decision. Persephone researched him, in particular his credentials, finding that the Austrian born doctor was in fact no doctor at all, as none of the world's Universities credit him as attending. Why would he lie? And if he is not a doctor, who is he?
Another Hanso Foundation executive, Hugh was Communications Director. At this point he wasn't really very important. Persephone told us about how he was having an affair - not exactly setting a good example at the Foundation. However, Hugh did crop up in other areas, such as appearing on the US show "Jimmy Kimmel Live" to denounce allegations against the Hanso Foundation, and writing into the newspapers to defend the Foundation from accusations made by the book "Bad Twin" (again, this will be explained later).
Not really high up on the rogues gallery, Peter was the last of the four main executives listed on the Hanso website. He's the Vice President and Secretary, but also has links with the Global Welfare Consortium. The GWC as they are called, are the people who are meant to regulate groups like the Hanso Foundation, so Persephone pointed out that with people like Thompson on the payroll, the Foundation had a corrupt open-house on whatever they wanted. Thompson was also implicated with defending two high-up Hanso workers, Lawrence Peck and Jacob Vanderfield, when they were arrested for perjury and obstruction of justice (all part of the job at the Foundation if we're to believe all that Persephone is telling us).
The Website Meltdown
Persephone's hacks couldn't last forever, and after she'd systematically hacked and challenged every square inch of the Hanso site, it was shut down completely. Now the key site was gone, a new one was needed, and it came in the form of rachelblake.com.
A mysterious video emerged. It was a young woman called Rachel, and she was at the time in Copenhagen researching the Hanso Foundation. She talked about all the things discovered about Hanso, and made references to the DHARMA initiative (apparently everyone working on the project had mysteriously vanished 30 years previous).
This site was to be the new home-ground. Using a quick password "evident agenda" got users onto the hidden blog where Rachel would post her progress. This often included videos, which were hidden on a number of different "in-game" websites. This is a good point to describe some of the websites. N.B. we also found out she was actually Persephone.
In terms of the narrative, DJ Dan is seemingly a funny filler. He's hated the Hanso Foundation for many years, and is a bit paranoid generally of fat cats and anything Capitalist. With his assistant Tonya, he runs an underground radio show where they discuss the Hanso Group along with other things. Dan's broadcasts are good fun, and sometimes give little bits of information that could be important. His podcasts were also hidden around the net like Blake's videos.
As far as sites go, this one is odd. Working out the login gets you into the Hanso Foundation website through the backdoor. It gives a directory to emails and folders reserved for the staff. Some have nothing, others have codes and web links needed to find Rachel's videos and Persephone's hacks.
A seemingly kindhearted website about dogs and such. However, logging in with the right passwords brings you to a threaded board, where a few users discuss how much they hate their bosses and the company that owns them now (the Hanso Foundation). They're very paranoid about security, and so are often extremely cryptic, but reading between the lines makes you realise they're giving you clues on where Rachel's videos and such are hidden. Retrieversoftruth, or ROT, clues are usually in reference to hidden links on verizon broadband or richerdeeperbroader.com (both actually REAL company sites, but sponsors of the Lost Experience...). The same can be seen with hidden links on the Jeep website, another sponsor.
Another one of the sponsors, though less important than many of the other sites. Enterring words brings up links and web definitions, and so sometimes enterring particular codes meant one could access videos...
The rest of the story will be summarised in a basic Rachel Blake story so far biography from the main Lostpedia:
Story so Far
Little is known about Rachel’s life before she began hacking The Hanso Foundation website under the guise of “Persephone”, though some information can be gleamed from her blogs and videos. Rachel initially worked for the Widmore Corporation. She later refers to them as an evil megalithic corporation, and this may in part explain why she quit the job, receiving her severance pay. According to her blog, she is now 24 years old. It is also known that at some point Rachel’s mother died, and this is attributed by Rachel to be why she is undertaking her mission to expose The Hanso Foundation.
Arriving in Copenhagen, under the pretense of traveling, Rachel began to further her Hanso investigations. After making a number of hacks on the Hanso Foundation website about her discoveries into the disappearance of Alvar Hanso and other Foundation executives, she began to publish her blogs and video clips about her findings. During this time, Rachel learnt that Hanso executive Thomas Mittelwerk was researching islands for some purpose, as well as a specially designed ship. To gain this information, Rachel had to take a number of risks, including directly confronting Mittelwerk himself, and narrowly escaping a run-in with one of Mittelwerk’s cronies.
Her research took her to Iceland, where Mittelwerk had headed following a fire at the Hanso funded “Vik Institute”. Here, Rachel learned about the Valenzetti Equation, which was being secretly analysed in the institute by mathematicians and savants. Rachel came to the conclusion that Enzo Valenzetti, the creator of the equation, could have faked his own death in a plane accident, and may be alive in well in hiding. On a tip-off from one of her contacts, “GidgetGirl”, Rachel moved on to Italy, finding once again the presence of Hanso executives. Along with seeing a strange boat called the “Helgus Antonius” loading Hanso Foundation cargo at a nearby harbour, Rachel received a mysterious phone call from “GidgetGirl”, instructing Miss Blake to go to Paris, France immediately.
When she arrived in Paris, Rachel went to the meeting place, but GidgetGirl never appeared. Rachel later learnt that GidgetGirl was actually Darla Taft, the mistress of Hanso executive Hugh McIntyre, and that both had died in a suspicious car accident. Whilst still reeling from this development, Rachel was attacked in her hotel room, with gunfire shooting from outside. She was rescued by an unlikely ally, the subordinate of Thomas Mittelwerk known as Malik who Rachel had previously encountered in Copenhagen. Taking her to safety, he tells her of a flat in St Germain de Pres that was owned by Hugh and Darla, and gives her a key. When she got there, Rachel found a video of Darla’s last words, telling her about a package. Inside this, Rachel found folders on the “SPIDER PROTOCOL”, as well as discovering designs for the “Helgus Antonius” ship which outlined a hospital boat with “quarantined” wards. Finally, Rachel found a fake ID and a plane ticket to Sri Lanka, and she hastily booked her flight.
In an appearance that blurred the fourth wall of the series, she appeared at the LOST panel at Comic Con and slammed writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse for allowing The Hanso Foundation "to prove themselves as this great philanthropic organization" by buying their way into the show's plot with advertising dollars. Near the end of her irate speech, she instructs all who want the truth to go to www.hansoexposed.com.
HansoExposed.com then became the latest part of the adventure, with individual fragments of a video of Rachel's time in Sri Lanka locked, needing clues that are themselves hidden all over the Internet. Rachel's justification for this is that the video is so explosive it "will tear The Hanso Foundation apart...". The video (dubbed the Sri Lanka Video) showed Alvar Hanso, discussing the Valenzetti Equation and the numbers. Mittelwerk could then be seen lecturing Hanso Foundation workers, whilst Rachel secretly filmed in the background. It seems that the Hanso Foundation is desperately trying to solve Valenzetti's equation, but all they end with after running it is six numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42). Mittelwerk himself says that they have been plagued by these numbers, and so radical action must be taken. He tells his team about villages in Sri Lanka, where they have seemingly introduced a genetically targeted retro-virus. For some reason, they are attempting to achieve a 30% mortality rate in the victims, and require the bodies of the dead for examination. In the final moments of the video, Rachel is spotted by Mittelwerk and attempts to escape. Although we did not know how at first, Rachel managed to escape Sri Lanka and most likely returned to the United States, as she appeared at Comic Con.
Next, Rachel set up whereisalvar.com, where those who find Apollo bars can upload their pictures. This is done to show the Hanso Foundation "the army that's united to oppose their crimes". Rachel has promised that when enough of her followers have uploaded their faces, she will reveal further instructions. She ends her message on the site with "you won't want to miss what I have to show you".
After the completion of the Sri Lanka Video, Rachel contacted Malik through the blogs of Speaker, Lost Ninja and Other Girl, in response to his encrypted message during the August 11 DJ Dan Podcast. She explained to Malik how de Zylva, a mutual friend, had rescued her from Mittelwerk's clutches when she was attacked after filming her video. He helped her escape to India, though never came when Rachel waited for him. It is presumed the Hanso Foundation found him first. Marik and Rachel then set up a meeting in New York.
When whereisalvar.com showed 100% of bars being found, Rachel issued a message stating that we will learn "the whole truth. About them. About me." She then called for all to tune into the DJ Dan podcast...so we can once and for all "shut it all down!"
In her final video on abc.com, it was confirmed by Alvar Hanso himself that he is her father. It appears that Rachel wondered as a student how her single mother could pay for all her tuition. Investigating her trust fund, she discovered it led back to the Foundation, and this is how she got involved in researching them, and eventually standing against them.
Now you are pretty much up to date, minus what Apollo and whereisalvar.com is, as well as Bad Twin. These shall be done as footnotes, but first a little extra information on Hanso Exposed and the glyphs will be given (they were a big part to this game).
Hanso Exposed In More Detail
As you read in the story so far bit, Rachel hid codes that unlocked parts to the Sri Lanka video all over the world, both on the net and in the real world. Some were on in-game sites like DJ Dan's and Richerdeeperbroader.com - but others were in Time Square, Sydney Harbour, Manchester etc.
The codes were on posters of hieroglyphics, and enterring the codes brought up a fragment. After tireless rearranging/cheating by looking on Lostpedia how everyone else had done it, it made the full video, details above.
Bad Twin is a book, as in one you can buy in the shop - but it is classed as "in-game". It was written by Gary Troup, who supposedly then got on Flight 815 and crashed and died on the Lost island. The real ghost-writer is Laurence Shames, a famed mystery writer, but the book credits Troup, which confused a lot of people.
The book circles around Paul Artisan, a P.I. who finally hits big with a high profile case of disappearance. Cliff Widmore is he contractor, and wants to find his brother. In the middle of a reasonably OK read, we do get a couple of sort of "in-game" suggestions. Remember though, even in the alternate reality, the book is meant to be seen as fiction, so its a bit dubious whether the stuff it tells us is more implying or real to the overall Lost Experience storyline.
First, through researching Widmore, Artisan sees that they've had past dealings with the Hanso Foundation. Indeed, when he goes to meeting with Cliff at the Widmore Building, he forgets the correct floor, pressing 42 in the elevator - he arrives at a Hanso Foundation research floor (so obviously the two companies are connected). Later on we hear mention of a Mr. Paik - he's also in Lost as a construction company owner and so may also be important. Finally, we hear Arthur Widmore talking about the Hanso Foundation to his son, particularly how much he dislikes the new guy who's taken over as Hanso rep for the Widmore Board of Directors, Thomas Werner Mittelwerk. He compares him to Alvar Hanso whose recently left for some reason, calling Mittelwerk a sleaze basically who has his own agenda.
Definitely a footnote to Experience, Joop is still a name you might hear about in the world of the game. Basically, he's a 105 year old Orangutan. Back at the start of the Experience with the Hanso site, Joop was featured as a success of the Foundation's Life Extension Project. They seemingly experimented on his DNA, making him live far longer than any monkey should. Rachel protested that Joop was just another Hanso attempt to make themselves look like a friendly, family company - when in reality its all just a show. Joop, however, remained a fan favourite and you'll often find mention of him on the net if you decide to do some research.
Apollo and Whereisalvar
These also made little appearances in the show, most notably at the start of Season 2 where Kate stops to have one while Jack and John are at gunpoint by a crazed Scot (you know where her heart lies...). It also stood out as being the only real food the islanders found that actually had its own packaging and stuff. Well it was done as part of the game.
The Apollo bars are owned by the Hanso Foundation, see apollocandy.com for details. They were distributed at events in America and the UK and fans could literally go get them. With them, you can photograph yourself and upload onto whereisalvar.com. The idea behind this is that we're showing the Hanso Foundation how many of us are against them and their evil plot.
Speaker, Lost Ninja and Other Girl
If you got involved in the game, you'd probably know all these people. They're basically our middle men and women behind us and the people who make the game. Speaker is the guy for America's team, Ninja caters for the Australian needs, and Other Girl looks after the UK. All three are involved in the team who organise the game, but they're good for summarising whats gone on every few days and are good people to ask if you're wondering if a new website is real or just a fan-made hoax. All three have their hidden identities: Speaker and Other Girl dark themselves out in shadow, and Ninja oddly enough wears a ninja outfit. If you don't feel like actively finding clues yourself, you can always just view whats been happening in their daily blogs.
There were additionally a number of other themes covered in the Lost Experience, such as Project Sumo and the Missing Organs folder. See Template:Nav-TLEE for a list of other elements to the storyline.
- Rachel Blake's official catch-up guide. Note, this is classed as in-game so will address the reader as though the story is complete reality
- An Experience guide by The Other Girl. Similar to the style of this article, though less detailed