The Threshold: Redefining Teamwork
In 2009, No Mimes Media was tasked by Cisco, JUXT Interactive and George P. Johnson to design an Alternate Reality Game thriller as part of Cisco’s Global Sales Meeting virtual event. This Global Sales Experience (GSX) was created to inform and motivate 19,000 Cisco sales people from around the globe.
NMM wrote and designed an experience that would create hours of entertainment, challenges and collaboration for our audience. The project required an enormous amount of collaboration between NMM, Juxt and Cisco. Cisco responded by becoming involved with the project from the highest levels of the company; a decision, as it turned out, that was crucial to the success of the project.
To help build anticipation, The Threshold was treated like a summer blockbuster film, with Cisco offices displaying digital posters resembling movie billboards. The highlight of a pre-launch email campaign featured a gripping clue-laden trailer video that raised buzz in Cisco hallways around the world.
The Threshold officially launched three weeks prior to GSX, and players were immediately immersed in its story, and emotionally invested in its characters. Many devoted most of their waking hours to the experience. Players demonstrated both collective genius and tenacity as they worked day and night to follow the ever-evolving storyline and unlock the game's mysteries.
As The Threshold unfolded over 4 intense weeks, players exchanged phone calls and emails with fictional characters, scoured every corner of the GSX platform for clues, and uncovered websites, emails, secret surveillance videos, recorded Webex sessions and more. Cisco's CEO John Chambers even made cameo appearances, while Executive Vice president Rob Lloyd released crucial clues in his live opening session.
Teamwork and collaboration played a major role in the experience design, as players hit the game forums and wiki pages to share theories and solve puzzles together. Some teams also turned to Cisco technologies like Webex to facilitate communication and speculation. Then, on the last day of the game, players were given the final clues and 2 hours to discuss findings with teammates, and submit their answers to The Threshold mystery.
The Threshold effectively combined collaborative gameplay with friendly competition. At the game’s conclusion, a host of awards were handed out to participants, including top scorers in each Cisco region. The winning Threshold team received a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend The Superbowl™ with Cisco CEO John Chambers and Executive Vice President Rob Lloyd.
The Threshold proved to be an unqualified success. The number of participants was more than double the projected. The revolutionary transmedia experience captivated 13,000 of the event's 19,000 attendees, and for many of them, playtime was several hours a day. Numerous unsolicited forum threads championed The Threshold for promoting collaboration and learning, and for bringing the company one step closer to its vision of ONE Cisco.