If there’s one thing we love about the Internet, it’s how weird it is, and how deeply passionate fans of sub-cult followings tend to be. (Although, arguably, this is also why the Internet is the worst place?)
On any given moment on any given day, there’s someone introducing the internet to the most esoteric subjects via long form content, bucking the stereotype that being chronically online is responsible for at least two generation’s worth of ADD. (They just like to jump!)
Which is why we’ve come up with a program celebrating the curators who take an academic approach to their research of some seemingly arcane subject. From weekly pop culture dissections to histories of defunct theme parks and unpacking all of “The Vampire Diaries” in five hours to the rise and fall of dystopian YA novels and Brazilian butt-lifts, “Deep Linkers” will see us talking to our favorite creators about how they stay motivated to continue making projects for the Internet the length of most graduate dissertations.
For our first episode, I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Nick Nocturne, the cat-man behind the YouTube channel Night Mind, a supplemental multimedia index of unfiction projects and alternate reality games (ARGs). The unfiction community personally gives me faith in the next generation of storytellers, who use the unique properties of web technology to tell these incredibly complex and creative narratives. You may have come across a “trailhead” of an unfiction project — the gateway to the larger mystery box story — while not even realizing it.
Since he launched his channel in 2015 with hour-long explainers of early Slenderman ARGs like “Marble Hornets,” “Everyman Hybrid,” and Tribe Twelve, fans and creators alike have flocked to Night Mind and Nocturne to act as the sherpa through the dark and byzantine trans-media landscape of unfiction horror.
The music videos of American pop star singer Poppy; the British puppet series “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared” and the innocent-seeming flash website for an old public access show called Welcome Home are all gateways to interactive projects or immersive narratives; so are the 4 a.m. Adult Swim infomercials “Unedited Footage of a Bear” and “This House Has People In It” by Wham City Comedy.
ARGs meanwhile date back to the marketing campaigns of “Cloverfield,” “The Dark Knight” and “Halo 2.” The first ever ARG, “The Beast” was a collaboration between Microsoft and producer Kathleen Kennedy for Steven Spielberg’s “A.I. Artificial Intelligence”; the project’s developer Elan Lee was so inspired by David Fincher’s 1997 thriller “The Game” that he wanted to make a real-life version. And I will die on the hill defending this as the most hilarious origin story of all time.
Nocturne has spent a lot of time devoted to unfiction, and recently made the decision to dial back the number of long-form scripted video content in favor of collaborative walkthroughs on Twitch. He’s a fountain of wisdom, not just on unfiction but on what it takes to be a career creator, how to come back after the inevitable dreaded burnout, and the various ways content is like a garden. Enjoy!