It’s the 10th anniversary of ARGFest-o-Con August 18th-21st in Bloomington, Indiana. Perhaps this seems inconsequential to you. Perhaps, you forget that 10 years ago an interactive experience called The Beast shook people’s lives more than any church mass ever has. So, chew on this: what once seemed crazy is now a definitive part of the future of interactive media. Today everyone from across the entertainment and media industries now lines up to imagine how an alternate reality game or transmedia storytelling strategies could be used to help market their products or shake their communities into action. In the music business right now, it’s the Lady Gaga ARG, while video games generate buzz through ARGs as with Valve 2’s ARG, and ARGs are used to support reality TV. Earlier this year, Fourth Wall Studios received a $15-million investment to bring together some of the most renowned ARG designers in one studio. They’re preparing to tempt the ever-growing audience for some of the latest and greatest blockbuster films on the horizon.
Not sure if ARGFest is for you? In the words of ARGFest’s primary organizer, Jonathan Waite, are you “ready to take part in a unique, perhaps life-altering experience”? Do you have “an open mind and a curiosity about how gaming can go beyond traditional media”? Then by all means, catch the early bird discount (promotion ends today!) and get yourself a ticket to ARGFest.
I asked Waite about the context of this year’s ARGFest: “I think one of the most exciting things about ARGFest-o-Con 2011 is that we are celebrating our tenth “anniversary.” Even though the first ARGFest-o-Con was in 2003, this is the 10th time we are gathering as a community, and the tenth city playing host for the event. I’m also very excited to be visiting Bloomington, Indiana, as it is a unique and welcoming city that we think will really impress the attendees. As always, ARGFest-o-Con will be a fun, informative and educational event where fans and players of games can sit alongside leaders in transmedia while enjoying intimate, interactive discussions and presentations.”
And, we’re excited to share some news with you: according to Waite, “We’re 95% certain that 2011 will mark the return of FestQuest,” he said. That’s right, folks: You heard it here first. The puzzle-based urban exploration design to introduce you to a new town is back, and Bloomington will host the surprise. Strap on your best thinking caps (or whatever you use), and register before it is too late to join us in Indiana for this historic event.
As if a 10-year anniversary and return of FestQuest isn’t enough reason to attend, the speakers include ARG legends like Dan Hon, Creative Director at world-renown advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy and one of the creators of Perplex City as well as co-founder of Six to Start. There’ll also be a week-long ARG involving time travel (and butterflies?) as well as something mysteriously titled “Super Fun.” Can’t wait to see what that one is. There will even be at least one member who has been to every single conference since ’01, although “she’s shy and probably wouldn’t want me to mention her by name,” Waite notes. “Instead I’ll wait to see her in Bloomington to give her a big hug for all her support over the years.”
With the incredible lineup of speakers, games to be played, and the historic aura of accomplishment as this movement has grown up from the fringes and now is part of mainstream pop culture, the choice seems clear. Mystery awaits, build your interactive narrative expertise, hug virtual friends in person… most of all, come join us and see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Maybe you’re in a summer haze and thinking more about the beach than the fact that 10 years ago ARG players came together for the first time, but it’s time to wake up out of that haze and register for ARGFest 2011. But you better hurry up! Discounted early bird registration ends today!