With a background in live
events, Ryan Hogan and Derrick
Smith were fascinated by the
rising popularity of immersive
entertainment. In 2016, escape rooms
burst on the scene, and interactive
theater like the Off-Broadway production of Sleep No More, based on William
Shakespeare’s Macbeth, was captivating
audiences. People wanted new experiences, so why not tap into that interest?
Their idea was to create a 200-acre
living crime scene outside of Baltimore.
The instinct was good—more than 600
people flocked to the three-hour live
experience—but the idea didn’t scale
very well. So, they looked at trends in
other industries, weaving in the subscription box business model. In July
2016, they launched Hunt A Killer,
a monthly subscription storytelling
game that delivers clues, evidence,
and correspondence. Game players
use the clues and information to solve
CRIME-SOLVING COMMUNI T Y
Hunt A Killer’s amateur sleuths pore
over each month’s box of correspondence
and clues to figure out who committed
the featured crime. Users can participate solo or with friends. They can
also interact with other players via
Hunt A Killer’s online forums and a
secret Facebook group with more than
80,000 members. The company is No.
10 on Fast Company’s 2019 Most Innovative Companies list in the Gaming
Hogan and his team have been
delighted by the community and the
strong bonds within it; they frequently
hear members are like family to each
other and share in the experiences. And
game quality ventures close to reality.
After a Maryland woman received a
Hunt A Killer subscription as a sur-
prise gift from her grandson, she was
so alarmed by the package of clues and
“the letter” from a serial killer that she
called the police and turned it in as evidence. A county sheriff called Hogan to con-
firm that it was just a game.
GRO WING IN TRIGUE
Hogan says one of the keys to the company’s success is its commitment to great
storytelling, with intricate plots and well-developed characters. Each employee
has access to product ideas, sales information, and other data, and is encouraged
to give feedback that can make the company better.
In November 2017, the company branched out and launched Empty Faces, a
paranormal monthly subscription delivered episodically like Hunt A Killer. Soon,
the company will introduce Earth Break, a science fiction immersive story. In
addition to the subscription box, the company is debuting a fictional audio drama
podcast that occurs in the same universe as the game: Earth Break: A Fe w Suggestions for Survival, with Additional Hints and Tips About How to Make Yourself More
Comfortable During the Alien Apocalypse. Each is estimated to launch by June 2019.
In addition to the new storylines, Hunt A Killer is also moving into the corporate realm. With their new offering, called Team Building Kits, they work with
organizations to create stronger teams. In a little more than a month, Hogan and
company have received more than 400 applications from prospective clients. To
Hogan, this is a natural extension of what Hunt A Killer does every day.
“We didn’t realize it until companies were approaching us. Our product really
breaks down communication barriers. It really builds a foundation of trust as people
are working through these problems,” he says. And it all starts with a great story.
THIS IMMERSIVE GAME INNOVATOR IS AN AMATEUR GUMSHOE’S DREAM COME TRUE.
CREATED B Y FASTCO WORKS CONTENT STUDIO AND COMMISSIONED BY
HUN T A KILLER’S
is po wered
by a team of