Most social games have perks for those at the top of the leaderboard, but USA Network may be unique in making one of those perks be the opportunity to become a murder victim. But it does suit a game based on Psych, USA Network’s drama starring two detectives known for their quirks and quips. The Psych tie-in #HashTagKiller (HTK) went live today in a seven-week game leading up to the show’s Oct. 12 season premiere.

The game immerses fans in a Psych storyline specifically created for this experience, which involves inspecting interactive crime scenes fans, deciphering crime scene clues, and following leads to catch the mysterious killer. Making the game a genuine extension of the USA Networks hit show, the integral original videos are shot in broadcast quality and feature Shawn and Gus (series stars James Roday and Dulé Hill). Players can engage with them and with other fans in real time through messages on Facebook, picture messages and audio feeds, as though fans were actually helping the detective duo solve the case. Fans also can join USA’s own cross-platform Character Chatter, which pulls together live feeds from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and elsewhere, to discuss HTK clues and developments.

“This gaming experience further illustrates USA’s commitment to pushing forward and defining the concept of SocialTV, while giving fans the content they crave in an entertaining new package,” said Jesse Redniss, vice president, Digital, USA Networks. “It allows our fans unprecedented interaction and engagement with cast, characters, show creators and other loyal fans extending beyond the on-air boundaries of the original series.”

HTK was created in conjunction with the writers of the show and executive producers Chris Henze, Kelly Kulchak and Steve Franks, adding to its authenticity. The #HashTagKiller social experience was built using the scripted social networking platform from SocialSamba. USA also teamed with Glow Interactive to develop the interactive crime scenes, the digital marketing and creative agency the network worked with on the interactive iPad ads for its series White Collar.

Integration with Facebook’s Open Graph technology means fans can weave their HTK experience into their Facebook presence as well.

New puzzles, more difficult challenges and a new victim are introduced each week, but game is designed so newcomers can join in at any time. Players are rewarded with points on the Club Psych leaderboard, competing for the ultimate goal of being selected to be one of the HashtagKiller’s victims.

Since it’s not the sort of project that can be released in beta, the development team said it’s collectively watching the experience go live today and is ready to fine-tune in case anything needs it.

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