Websites and phone numbers in the Year Zero alternate reality game

Websites and phone numbers in the Year Zero alternate reality game

The story of the "Year Zero" alternate reality game is primarily told through the "Year Zero" album and a number of fictitious, in-game websites and phone numbers. The appearance of these websites and phone numbers from the year 2022 (Year 0 BA in-game) seems to be as a result of the Solutions Backward Initiative, a group of students, professors, and IT specialists who have devised a method of sending information back through time through "quantum computing."

In-game websites

The numerous sites with the "Year Zero" game all have a distinct "hacked" or "corrupted" appearance to them, with the exception of "Open Source Resistance". They were registered through Domains by Proxy, a company that protects site owners' identities.cite web
url =
title = Full Breakdown Of Nine Inch Nails Year Zero "Web Story"
author = Michael Melchor
publisher = 411mania
date = 2007-03-30
accessdate = 2007-04-08
] Presented is a list of the most relevant websites, in the rough chronological order in which they were discovered.

" [ I am Trying to Believe] "

The first website discovered, "I am Trying to Believe" is primarily concerned with the fictional drug Parepin as well as its relationship to sightings of The Presence. On one of the pages, an email is provided as contact information to the "creator" of the website (, and upon sending an email to this address, an auto-reply is returned:cite web
url =
title = Weird Web Trail: Conspiracy Theory-Or Marketing For Nine Inch Nails LP?
author = James Montgomery
publisher = MTV News
date = 2007-02-15
accessdate = 2007-03-11

Auto-reply from wrote:

Thank you for your interest. It is now clear to me that Parepin is a completely safe and effective agent developed to protect us from bio-terrorism. The Administration is acting purely in the best interests of its citizens; to suggest otherwise was irresponsible and I deeply regret it.

I'm drinking the water. So should you.

" [ Another Version of the Truth] "

"Another Version of the Truth" is primarily an in-game forum in which characters discuss varying topics of resistance and life within the world of Year Zero. The opening page resembles a picturesque, propagandistic picture of an American farm, but through Flash the user can reveal another, bleaker picture of a destroyed wasteland. This picture in turn links to an in-game [ forum] . Besides the topics posted on the forum, [ another forum post] has since been discovered that does not link from the main forum page.

Thus far postings on the forum have lead to discoveries of three MP3s and a brief timeline of the Year Zero world:
* [ Opalo.mp3]
* [ ballgameOver.mp3]
* [ nohurry.mp3]
* [ America Unites the World / Another Version of the Past]

Like the opening page, the "America Unites the World / Another Version of the Past" page, which initially displays an "official" account of history since Year 0, with the implementation of Flash, the user can drag an alternative, satirical, and highly critical version of the same timeline into view.

[ This wreckage] on "The Mailstrom" leads to [ this page] on "Another Version of the Truth", on which a clue is given on how to reach the next page. On the next page, another clue is given, and so on.

* - contains a link to [ this page]

It can be seen that every few pages contain a certain step in building a bomb.

" [ Be the Hammer] "

A resistance site apparently maintained by the "Angry Sniper."cite web
last = Gunderson
first = Edna
title = Nine Inch Nails 'Zero' in on bleak future
publisher = USA Today
date = 2007-04-18
url =
accessdate = 2007-04-19
] cite web
url =
title = The contents of tonight's USB key...
publisher = The NIN Hotline
date = 2007-02-25
accessdate = 2008-01-10
] cite web
title = "Year Zero" Project = Way Cooler Than "Lost"
publisher = Rolling Stone
date = 2007-02-22
url =
accessdate = 2007-04-06
] The site was first discovered via the "Another Version of the Truth" message boards. The site contains seven different sections or "entries," which serve as an insight into the character's past and his own personal views on his contemporary, Year Zero society.

" [ Consolidated Mail Systems] "

The result of an amalgamation of all private and government run mail services, both paper and electronic. However, there are actually only two versions of the site available: one which corresponds to "citizen_unknown" [] , which is completely inert and unusable, and one which corresponds to "nooneimportant" [] , which leads to an inbox of sorts with a piece of mail offering brief insights into the drug Opal. Upon any link being clicked, however, the following error message is returned:

WARNING CODE 24.10.4 (All page functionality disabled): You are not the citizen assigned to this account. Close this window immediately and stay where you are. Authorities will be in contact shortly for appropriate reeducation.

" [ U.S. Wiretap] "

Referenced in 1-216-333-1810. The tapped phone conversation is given the case number "7-1-8-3-9-J," which when added to the U.S. Wiretap URL, returns a transcript of another conversation. []

" [ The Mailstrom] "

An in-game search engine designed to eavesdrop on messages contained in the Consolidated Mail Systems. Operation of "The Mailstrom" consists of two text input boxes, one labeled "Wreckage" and the other labeled "Shard." "The Mailstrom" is said to be a "decryption field" which, seemingly at random and only rarely, is able to intercept emails being sent through the government-controlled data stream, the Consolidated Mail System.

Combinations of "Wreckage" and "Shard" inputs have been discovered within buttons handed out at pre-release "Year Zero" listening parties and a few through a variety of other means. Later all the Wreckages and Shards that appeared on the buttons were listed on Exhibit24.
* [ Wreckage:gallows, shard:Y3RG7J]
* [ Wreckage:gasoline, shard:UUu891]
* [ Wreckage:tumbrel, shard:ad44us]
* [ Wreckage:wretched, shard:Ypq2QQ]
* [ Wreckage:bitter, shard:BGtg57]
* [ Wreckage:fratricide, shard:774FZx]
* [ Wreckage:wetwork, shard:c276e4]
* [ Wreckage:pliers, shard:Ji3p09]
* [ Wreckage:slander, shard:Yr4893]
* [ Wreckage:atropine, shard:gH319x]
* [ Wreckage:corrida, shard:MKs742]
* [ Wreckage:flense, shard:E5PPvv]
* [ Wreckage:venom, shard:D3i8Na]
* [ Wreckage:sickle, shard:Nnqa49]
* [ Wreckage:widow, shard:vC99iT]
* [ Wreckage:needle, shard:jP411R]
* [ Wreckage:infarction, shard:6k961g]
* [ Wreckage:spore, shard:pQw2pP]
* [ Wreckage:belladonna, shard:3Mz3tU]
* [ Wreckage:cleaver, shard:I682fg]
* [ Wreckage:necrotic, shard:blE34c]
* [ Wreckage:parasite, shard:tP366K]
* [ Wreckage:regret, shard:Ad5457]
* [ Wreckage:hubris, shard:39tpLe]
* [ Wreckage:scorpion, shard:4rTL21]
* [ Wreckage:usurp, shard:397W4p]
* [ Wreckage:pain, shard:HTDTNA]
* [ Wreckage:flood, shard:LHL7P3]

" [ The Price of Treason] "

This site was discovered through cryptic emails sent to Nine Inch Nails fans with the title "YOU HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED AS UNAMERICAN."cite web
last = Reuters
authorlink = Reuters
title = Cryptic Web sites build buzz for Nine Inch Nails
publisher = CNN
date = 2007-04-02
url =
accessdate = 2007-04-06
] cite web
url =
title = NIN fans receive cryptic email
publisher = The NIN Hotline
date = 2007-03-27
accessdate = 2008-01-10
] The text reads:

ATTENTION! The Bureau of Morality has identified you as A CONSUMER OF DISSIDENT MATERIAL.

This is a one time warning. Any further attempts to view, consume, or distribute un-American content will result in the loss of citizenship increments and/or the imposition of fines, penalties, or imprisonment.

You have choices. Make the RIGHT ones.

For further information on making good choices, visit

Bureau of Morality
One Nation Under God

The website is a collection of pro-Year Zero government propaganda about the consequences of rebelling. Much of the site is devoted to anti-music articles including an article about the life of Neil Cznero, an anti-government activist and musician, as well as a mother sent to jail for letting her daughter listen to music before killing herself in a suicide bombing. It also contains articles on the evil of removing necrochips, women receiving an education, and a link to the memorial site " [ Hollywood In Memoriam] ."

" [ Open Source Resistance] "

Unlike the rest of the "Year Zero" sites, "Open Source Resistance" is set in present day (2007, -15 BA). The appearance of the site reflects this, particularly since it doesn't carry the "corrupted" appearance of the sites set in the Year 0. Also unlike the other "Year Zero" sites, "Open Source Resistance" is interactive: participants in the game can submit artwork, videos, and messages related to the game and story.cite web
url =
title =
publisher = The NIN Hotline
date = 2007-04-06
accessdate = 2008-01-10

The site acts as a hub for a grass-roots resistance movement, urging people to "Wake up and give a shit," in order to prevent a world like the one described in the "Year Zero" game.

" [ Grace The Teacher] "

An online journal from a young man that moves into the country. He notices changes in himself, particularly increased aggression, while unaware that it is the lack of Parepin in the water that is responsible for such changes.Fact|date=April 2007

" [ One Country At A Time] "

A website with letters and comic strips depicting a war in Syria. Discovered from a mural in Los Angeles, California.cite web
last = Montgomery
first = James
coauthors = Todd Brown
title = Nine Inch Nails' Year Almost Here, But Real-World Game Continues
publisher = MTV News
date = 2007-04-16
url =
accessdate = 2007-04-16
] It is speculated that the artist of the comic on the website is comic book artist Mark Bagley.Fact|date=April 2007

" [ Exterminal] "

The digipak versions of "Year Zero" have a thermochrome disc, which when heated changes from dark grey to white, revealing a binary sequence. When passed through a binary to ASCII converter, the series translates to ""cite web
last = Gunderson
first = Edna
title = Reznor nails big 'Zero' on the future
publisher = USA Today
date = 2007-04-18
url =
accessdate = 2007-04-19

The site itself contains hacked content from an unknown website centered around the "Extra Judiciary Federal Detainment Camp" in Guam, consisting primarily of evidence collected against detainees. Of the evidence presented, "exhibitA.wav" is Track #7 from the "Year Zero" album, "Capital G."

" [ Brian Tsunoda] "

A website consisting of a scholarly paper, which explores the phenomenon of The Presence, presenting several theories on what it might be.

" [ Viability Index] "

A real-estate guide which rates locales on their viability and property value. Each city is given a "Viability Index," with higher numbers representing the most viable locations. According to the website, nearly every city is affected by some sort of disaster on a regular basis.

Many of the major cities of the world have been adversely affected by global warming, the most significant of which are New Orleans, Louisiana and Charlotte, North Carolina, which have been flooded by rising sea levels, and Mexico City, which is described as "Hell on Earth." New Orleans and Los Angeles, California both have index scores of 0, due to global warming and lingering toxicity due to terrorist attacks, respectively.

The "Viability Index" is so far the only in-game website to link to real modern-day websites, featuring animations of the effect of rising sea levels on [ New Orleans] and [ Charlotte] , and a [ study of the microbial air quality of Mexico City] , among others.

" [ Free Rebel Art] "

A site found within the liner notes of "Year Zero".Fact|date=April 2007 The site has two text entry fields, where users can input their name and phone number. Doing this will result in a phone call which tests the user's knowledge of the resistance movement, which results in an official message from Bureau of Morality.

" [ Mining For Life] "

A corporate site found through [ this Wreckage/Shard combination] of "The Mailstrom". It is the webpage of "Anglo-Johnson," a fictional company that pays African workers for skin grafts, blood transfusions, bone marrow transplantats, kidney transplants, and cornea transplants, which are then sold on the open-market in wealthier countries.

" [ Exhibit Twenty Four] "

Government site, found through the GarageBand release of Capital G, that apparently echoes the number system found throughout the alternate reality game. The site acts as an "evidence dossier" of all the media of the game thus far, presented as a catalog of mounting evidence in a surveillance campaign and criminal investigation of an unnamed ("Classified") inmate. Evidence within the website suggests that this "Classified" inmate is none other than Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor.The site presents a few additional pieces of "evidence" new to the game, specifically two "Subversive Networks." ( [ #1] , [ #2] ) Contained within these lists are a series of 4,810 "Resistance members," which seems to be a directory of particularly active Nine Inch Nails forum and fan club members. The entry describes the forum and fan club members as "intelligent, organized, and highly motivated" and that "finding, catching, and destroying them should be a top priority." Many of the "resistance members" are described as "Incarcerated," "Deceased," "Missing," or having fallen victim to a number of other fictitious fates.

" [ Hour of Arrival] "

Found through a phone call to the mobiles handed out by the Open Source Resistance, the website is a letter from a high-ranking government worker to his yet unborn child (who is due in the next few hours), calling the child Danny Jane (Danny if the child will be a boy, Jane if it will be a girl). In the letter he describes his childhood, sightings of The Presence (the author thinks that it means the nearing of the end of the world) and other facts about the modern time. The letter is cut off at the end.

In-game phone numbers

Also included in the "Year Zero" game are a number of fictitious, in-game phone numbers, often leading to new and previously undiscovered websites.


The MP3 file of static found with "Me, I'm Not," "2432.mp3," when analyzed through a spectrogram, reveals the phone number 1-216-333-1810. Calling this number returns a [ wiretapped phone conversation] which is described from a different perspective at [ U.S. (Case No. - 71839J)] .cite web
title = Third Nine Inch Nails Track Leaked
publisher =
date = 2007-02-20
url =
accessdate = 2007-04-06


A Nine Inch Nails tour T-shirt contained highlighted letters that spelled out another phone number: 1-310-295-1040.cite web
url =
title = 1-800-Survivalism (DO NOT CALL THIS NUMBER, IT'S JUST A HEADLINE!!)
publisher = The NIN Hotline
date = 2007-02-14
accessdate = 2008-01-10
] Calling this number plays [ a series of clips] , including a clip of the album's first single "Survivalism."


Another phone number appears on the digipak packaging of "Year Zero". On the back is a sticker showing the album's Universal Product Code, copyright information, and a label from the fictional US Bureau of Morality with the phone number 1-866-445-6580. This leads to an [ official recording] from the Bureau.cite web
url =
title = New Year Zero cover art posted
publisher = The NIN Hotline
date = 2007-04-04
accessdate = 2008-01-10
] cite web
url =
title = Year Zero Released Today
publisher = The NIN Hotline
date = 2007-04-17
accessdate = 2008-01-10



*cite web
url =
publisher = 42 Entertainment
title = Year Zero Cast Study
accessdate = 2008-04-09

* cite news
url =
title = Secret Websites, Coded Messages: The New World of Immersive Games
author = Frank Rose
work = Wired
date = 2007-12-20
accessdate = 2008-01-08

External links

* [ Official "Year Zero" page] at
* [ "Year Zero" Research] at the unofficial NIN Wiki
* [ echoingthesound] – discussion forum regarding the ARG

"Year Zero" phenomena

* [ IAmTryingToBelieve]
* [ Another Version of the Truth]
* [ 105th Airborne Crusaders]
* [ Consolidated Mail Systems]
* [ Be The Hammer]
* [ First Evangelical Church of Plano]
* [ United States Wiretap for a Safer America]
* [ Art is Resistance]
* [ Hollywood in Memoriam]
* [ Secure Broadcast Informatics]
* [ The Water Has Turned to Blood]
* [ Judson Correctional Facility]
* [ Cedocore]
* [ Operation Chip Sweep]
* [ Operation Swamp 0000]
* [ The Mailstrom]
* [ The Price of Treason]
* [ Open Source Resistance]
* [ Grace the Teacher]
* [ Red Horse Vector]
* [ Exterminal]
* [ Free Rebel Art]
* [ One Country at a Time]
* [ Viability Index]
* [ Mining for Life]
* [ Brian Tsunoda]
* [ Exhibit Twenty Four]
* [ Hour of Arrival]

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