One of the highlights of last year’s San Diego Comic-con was the introduction of Flynn’s Arcade. Attendees who successfully negotiated a scavenger hunt were treated to a visit to an off-site location where Flynn’s from the original TRON film had been faithfully re-created, fully stocked with arcade games from the period. After a short period of time, the TRON arcade game, front-and-center along the back wall, would move and reveal a secret backroom where they would find the now famous TRON Legacy Lightcycle in all its glory.
In short, it was one of the key reasons why I decided to embark on a journey to this year’s San Diego Comic-con, my first. Although I wouldn’t know about the return of the Arcade until much later after I had made my travel arrangements, I also heard that the Lightcycle this year would be replaced with something even more amazing. Missing this experience was just not an option.
It was while waiting on the line early in the morning to enter Hall H so I could see the TRON Legacy panel when I had seen a tweet from Yahoo! Movies advertising a site for the film. It turned out it was for a site I had already seen, but I managed to notice a twitter account in small print at the bottom that I hadn’t seen before. @operationtron had been set up to promote the alternate reality game (ARG) component that would eventually lead my aching feet into the arcade — I must’ve set a speed record for clicking on Follow.
Eventually, @operationtron would send out coordinates — an intersection in the Downtown area just outside the Convention Center — and directions to photograph yourself with the specified item and then report to yet another intersection. Only the first 32 people to successfully complete the task each time would be reported. It sounds simple enough, but it would appear that the task was fully completed in less than five minutes each time — something about it just didn’t seem right. Could the opportunity window to get into Flynn’s Arcade really be that small?
The answer is yes (yes yes). Wanting to attend panels, I had to opt out of the scavenger hunt because I couldn’t leave the convention. Eventually, however, I had made up my mind (especially since I had learned the event would be last night and my windows were getting infinitesimal by the second) and just left the Convention Center, found a random location on Market Street near First and waited. And waited. And waited. In short, my speed record for Following @operationtwitter was bested only by my refreshing its timeline.
Finally the call came: Find the Recognizer at Market and Sixth. This was a sign! The location was so close to me, it had to be meant for only me. Until I passed Second, where I was cut off by someone in a TRON shirt, so I knew I had a tiny bit of competition. Until I reached Sixth where literally dozens of FLYNN LIVES tees congregated, all looking for the Recognizer. Fortunately it was indeed a hunt as the Recognizer in question was a little icon on a poster on the glass of one of the shops. And, there being four different corners afterall, the mob was divvied up as the search took place. Let us just agree that it was pure dumb luck rather than destiny that guided me through the experience with success. Upon reaching the meeting point, I was handed a glow-in-the-dark identity disc and two wristbands to attend the evening’s event.
Due to space restrictions, folks were let into the arcade in small groups. Upon entering, we were handed a small coin purse filled with souvenir Flynn’s Arcade gaming tokens, just as last year. We had a few moments to look around the arcade (the games were covered up for the night adding to the mystique, but they will be playable (for free) as the Arcade is open during Comic-con). Then some soundbites from the new film played while the lights and neon signs around the room would flash in bits and pieces before the moment we had all come for arrived — the opening of the secret room.
Here we would find no Lightcycle. Instead, we weaved through corridors until we ended up at Flynn’s office — the same setup you see in TRON Legacy as Kevin Flynn’s son, Sam, gets digitized and transported to TRON City.
We too were digitized and marched onto the grid where it all opened up to the End of Line Club – an amazing lounge space filled with electronic music, lighting and more, not to mention props from the film on display as well as some of the new merchandise on display. Programs would roam around offering up a healthy dose of ambiance and Coke Zero to the partygoers. An ARG element allowed attendees to use a coaster-like sheet to match up with various locations throughout the club. These would eventually lead the attendees to a website where the found codes would reveal additional artwork from the film.
Finally, upon leaving the club, attendees were given a limited edition poster (700, individually numbered) commemorating the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
All photos copyright Stitch Kingdom. All Rights Reserved. End of line.