Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) are transmedia experiences that weave together to build a story. Not to be confused with Augmented Reality Games or Virtual Reality, they take place in the real world, conducted by real people, called ‘puppetmasters’. Players follow clues left by the puppetmasters across different media forms, which lead to more puzzles/bits of story that are pieced together to create a single narrative.
ARGs are a lot similar to a treasure hunt or a detective mystery, they almost always have a subtle launch. The ‘rabbit hole’ can exist for years until someone particularly observant notices something strange about it. After it is found it gains attention on forums, word spreads virally, and a community develops around the ARG.
Because of this community engagement, ARG puppetmasters have to create increasingly difficult and vague puzzles in order to withstand the collective intelligence of gamers working in collaboration with each other. A puzzle may be difficult for one person, but can be cracked in a matter of minutes by members of an online forum working together.
It truly is beautiful to see a community go from fighting over trivialities to unifying behind a common goal. The Overwatch community for example –
The effort that goes in to solving an ARG can be massive, and thus requires as many minds as possible to participate. The community’s engagement with an ARG can be attributed to a few things.
- Participation is addictive. Making a contribution to the cause puts your name down in history, and the more you grapple with the mystery, the greater your urge to uncover it’s secrets.
- Mysteries are intriguing, and as humans, we instinctively want closure – this helps draw you in initially
- ARGs exist in real life, their transmedia mediums create a seemingly real world of connections – it is so much more exciting seeking out these conne-1ons in yourself rather than consuming it through a movie or a video game.
If you haven’t already spotted it, there’s something hidden in this post – see where it leads you
UPDATE: No-one seems to have found it, and this post needs to be marked so here is a solved version, the soundcloud file had to be downloaded, reversed and sped up to reach this stage.