Using many different mediums, Matthew Ritchie has built up an elaborate alternate reality. In The Hard Way,
he tells the stories of seven mythological beings who were expelled from heaven in 50,000 B.C. Ritchie's online and offline components are interrelated -- texts, color-coded symbols, painted images, maps and time-lines imitate the ways people represent complex bodies of information.
Ritchie tells about his characters' histories, strengths, flaws and obsessions. You, the reader, are encouraged to identify with one of the characters, to decide which one best suits you, and then to embody that avatar. You are more than a visitor to the The Hard Way; you play an invested, interactive role, submitting to a series of difficult questions, registering your votes on important decisions and raising issues for others to read about and debate. As Ritchie himself explains in an outline for the project, this is a meta-narrative, a story about the act of storytelling.