New podcast investigates global experiment that spiralled out of control


A new Audible Original podcast series, produced by BBC Studios Audio tells the untold story of arguably the internet’s first conspiracy theory.

This is Not a Game is like nothing you’ve heard before, says host Marc Fennell as he goes back to the early days of the internet in the 90’s, to investigate an elaborate global experiment that spiralled out of control and lured people across generations.

Marc looks into the previously unexplored world of tech hippies, eccentric web subcultures and simmering paranoia, uncovering how a tongue-in-cheek artistic experiment backfired on its creator and went on to influence much of what’s wrong with the internet today.

As part of his investigation Marc goes to an undisclosed location in Eugene, Oregon to meet Joseph Matheny, the supposed Svengali behind ‘Ong’s Hat’ and the architect of one of the first internet conspiracy theories, who has agreed to give his final interview on the subject.

Marc Fennell says: “Joe has experienced the best and worst of the internet and it has changed him forever, so the question is, why did he start this particular hoax in the first place?”

Producer and co-writer Emma Weatherill says: “This story could be straight out of Mulder and Scully’s X Files: a portal to another dimension hidden in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The reality is more hackers and how early internet cyberpunks fooled the world.”

This is Not a Game with Marc Fennell is available exclusively on Audible now.