What is a ARG?
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What is a ARG?

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    What is a ARG? What is a ARG? Presentation Transcript

    • Alternative Reality Gaming
    • This presentation contains no inception spoilers
    • What is a ARG?
      • Alternative reality gaming better known as unfiction, transmedia storytelling, extended experiences, chaotic fiction, pervasive gaming, immersive fiction, beasting, etc...
      • ...is an interactive fusion of creative writing, puzzle-solving, and team-building, with a dose of role playing thrown in. It utilizes several forms of media in order to pass clues to the players, who solve puzzles in order to win pieces of the story being played out
    • Forerunners to ARGs
      • Masquerade became the forerunner of an entire genre of cryptic puzzles
      • Launched in book form in 1979, along with a treasure hunt involving buried gold in a secret location in England
      • The book sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide
      • Searchers often dug up public and private property acting on hunches
      • The solution to the Masquerade puzzle is elaborate: in each painting, lines should be drawn from each animal's eyes through their longest digits to a letter in the border...
    • Forerunners to ARGs
      • The Game is a 1997 Neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by David Fincher, starring Michael Douglas, featuring Sean Penn, and produced by Polygram. It tells the story of an investment banker who is given a mysterious gift: participation in a game that integrates in strange ways with his life. As the lines between the banker's real life and the game become more uncertain, there are hints of a large conspiracy
      • A lot of puppetmaster's see the game as the almost perfect ARG
    • Characteristics of an ARG
      • Platform-less narrative, cross-media interactivity
      • A whisper is sometimes louder than a shout
      • The "this is not a game" aesthetic
      • Real life as a medium
      • Collaborative storytelling
      • Meta-communication
    • The beast
      • Created by a team at Microsoft to promote the Steven Spielberg film A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
      • The Beast ran for twelve weeks in the spring and early summer of 2001, is one of the most influential early ARG games
      • The Beast was set in the year 2142, 16 years after the events chronicled in A.I. There were three overlapping entry points to the game, or "rabbit holes"
    • The beast: the rabbit holes
      • 1 st - Trailers and posters for A.I. had a credit for Jeanine Salla as Sentient Machine Therapist hidden among the credits for Spielberg and the actors.
      • 2 nd - One of the trailers encoded a telephone number in markings on the promotional text; if a player called this number and followed the given instructions he/she eventually received an email stating in part that "Jeanine is the key" and that "you've seen her name before."
      • 3 rd - an A.I. promotional poster sent to some technology and entertainment media outlets had a very simple code stating "Evan Chan was murdered. Jeanine is the key."
    • The beast: Jeanine Salla is the key
      • News of the websites first broke on the Ain't It Cool News website and was sparked by eagle-eyed film fans spotting the name Jeanine Salla credited as a "sentient machine therapist" in one of the trailers available on the net.
      • Searching for this name on the net led fans to the fictitious Bangalore World University and on through a bewildering series of sites that detail the world of AI
      • http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1274487.stm
    • The beast: Jeanine Salla
    • The beast: Jeanine Salla
      • Jeanine Salla is a fictional character who was created as part of a marketing scheme for the film "Artificial Intelligence". Jeanine Salla was a name placed in countless clues in film posters, websites, previews, and commercials. Starting from her name, people were drawn into a highly complex interactive "game" that involved websites, phone calls, emails, faxes, and teams of "players" working around the world to solve the clues
      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0972095/
    • The beast
      • For three months, players unraveled the clues to figure out the murderer. This included live phone conversations with actors and rallies in three cities around the U.S. Players created a Yahoo! Group to discuss clues and exchange information and also archived the entire game
      • The game had classic viral, exponential growth: on the first day a player found the site, only a few hits were recorded. By the first week, hundreds of people had visited. Over three million unique users visited the game site months later
    • The beast
      • In tracking down those responsible for Evan Chan's untimely demise, the Cloudmakers—and the thousands of independent players who followed along—uncovered a secret cabal of Watchers, an underground movement of sentient robot revolutionaries, and a secret project gone madly out of control
      • In the process, players decoded messages encrypted with a World War II Enigma machine cipher; translated German, Japanese, and Chinese text; and created a nightmare database to trap an insane AI named Loki, who was "hacking" a swath through the in-game websites.
    • Terminology
      • Puppetmaster - A puppetmaster or "PM" is an individual involved in designing and/or running an ARG.
      • The Curtain - The curtain is generally a metaphor for the separation between the puppetmasters and the players.
      • Rabbithole - Also known as a Trailhead.
      • This Is Not A Game (TINAG) - Setting the ARG form apart from other games is the This Is Not A Game aesthetic, which dictates that the game not behave like a game
    • Moving on
      • Following in the footsteps of the successful Beast, several other games jumped into the picture with varying degrees of success. Some tried to follow the pattern of the Beast while others used the general idea but charted new territory for themselves.
      • Massive scale ARGs : I love bees, the lost ring, flynn lives
      • Self-supported ARGs : perplex city, edoc laundry
      • Serious ARGs : world without oil, traces of hope, black cloud
      • Open source ARGs : wedreamthecity, metacortex
    • Upping the game
      • No more - http://www.slideshare.net/picnicfestival/everything-we-know-transmedia-wrong-by-dan-hon
      • Viewing source code, “De-stegging”, Waiting, Codebreaking, More codebreaking, Esoteric knowledge, Viewing more source code, Solving stupid puzzles, More waiting, Not telling me what to do, “This is not a f**king game”, Lazy calls to action, Helping a teenage girl, Helping an attractive teenage girl, Helping an attractive amnesiac teenage girl, Treasure hunts, Millions of blog entries, Jumping through f**king hoops and finally Masturbatory platform excitement
    • Bad storytelling is bad storytelling
    • Thank you, any questions? Ian Forrester | c ubicgarden.com | mydreamscape.org Presentation : CC BY-NC-SA