Letter to the Editor – “I, Puppetmaster”

June 25, 2004 · By Steve Peters in Opinion 

letter.jpgARGN has received a good number of opinions about our recent opinion piece entitled “I, Puppetmaster.” Here’s one:

There has been much discussion on the article “I, Puppetmaster” and I would like to take a moment to add my opinion to some of the assertions made by that article. Please note I said “opinions,” which in no way reflect the opinions of ARGN or any other ARG related site. I am only offering a different point of view.

The author of “I, Puppetmaster” put forth that:
In a not-so-perfect ARG universe PMs are often challenged to keep their identities secret but are seduced by the interaction with players to reveal themselves. It’s not difficult to seduce PMs, especially if they don’t have a corporate shield to hide behind and don’t have a lot of experience being published and appreciated for their creativity.

What sets the anonymous PMs apart from the PMs who can’t resist identifying themselves and interacting directly with players? Why are the anonymous PMs able to retain their discipline and professionalism while others succumb to socializing with players and taking their bows (in some cases) before the game has even begun?

I would say that the author is not aware of other reasons that PM’s become “known.” One way is that through no intentional planning on the Puppetmaster or Behind-the-Scenes personnel’s part, their identity is revealed. This could be through players back tracking someone’s IP, a player accidentally or intentionally finding and entering a room set up by the PM’s to discuss game matters, or players finding a sent message in an e-mail account that the players have been given access to. In some cases the PM may have let people know in public before the game starts. In others it may be to minimize damage from an event that the PM has no control over. It is not a good idea to say that one PM has more self-discipline than any other, in my opinion. In most cases it has nothing to do with a PM seeking to get a “pat on the back” as the author of “I, Puppetmaster” appears to assert.

My personal opinion is that each game is different, each PM is different. I do not see knowing who the PM or BTS people are as a problem. When you go to see a movie, you may recognize the actors playing various parts, but do you let that take away from your enjoyment of the movie? In some cases, you may go see the movie based on who is acting in it.

It is my personal opinion, that having at least one PM be known to members of the player base is a good thing. The reason I feel that way is because it allows the players a way to clarify issues outside of the game with the PM. Such as game sites all going down. It has happened, but it does not need to be a catastrophe. Having one known PM also allows for people to volunteer to be BTS without the player making a public announcement about it, hoping to be contacted by the PM. In some games additional people may not be needed, in others the PM’s may be juggling too many sites and characters alone and really need the assistance.

ARGs are not one size fits all. In my opinion, that is a good thing. Players have the option of lurking, of getting involved with solving puzzles, contacting characters, giving their address and telephone number to the PMs for greater immersion. In my opinion that is a good thing too.

I’m not asking you to like or agree with my opinion. I just want you to know, not everyone has the same opinion as the writer of “I, Puppetmaster.” Thanks for listening.

-Magesteff (aka Steffeny)

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