argfestgroupthumb.jpgNew York saw bands of Alternate Reality Gamers invade their city last weekend, when ARGFest IV came to town. Historically a social gathering of fans of ARGs, this time around reached new heights in sheer numbers and cool events. Over 50 ARG aficionados from the U.S., Canada and Great Britain spent the weekend gaming, partying, attending sessions and generally enjoying one another. Many folks were meeting each other for the first time in real life, despite having known each other online for years.

After an initial meet’n’greet on Friday night, Saturday provided a great time for those in attendance to delve into the world of Alternate Reality Gaming. Presentations and Q&A sessions with various ARG development teams took up most of the morning. The teams behind Perplex City, Art of the H3ist and Metacortechs gave behind-the-scenes glimpses into their work, and answered questions both live and via the internet, courtesy of a streaming webcast. To wrap things up, 42 Entertainment’s Jane McGonigal talked about the high-level issues and philosophies behind this new genre. Most then took part in a StreetQuest which took them all over the city solving clues, until they ended up at a secret location for dinner.

On Sunday, most of us relaxed, met for brunch, and/or took a walking tour of the city. Then farewells were bid and everyone returned home with many great memories of a wildly fun weekend. Plans are already being made for the very next get-together, which we’ll announce as soon as details become available.

For us here on staff at ARGN, this was the first chance many of us had to meet each other face-to-face. It was great having Sean Stacey, Jonathan Waite, Brooke Thompson, Krystyn Wells, Dee Cook, Carie Ward and myself all in the same place for the first time. It was also great getting to meet so many of you, and finally be able to put a face to your name.

Sincere thanks go out to those ARG’ers who helped organize the event, much to the benefit of everyone else’s enjoyment. Major props go out to:

  • Rose, Bagsbee, Diandra and JoeBrent for overall organization, planning and implementation
  • the folks at Mind Candy, Haxan Films, Dave Szulborski, Abacus Video and 42 Entertainment for helping to provide the facilities and equipment
  • Dave Szulborski for the Street Quest
  • xnbomb and SinVraal for help in puzzle design and organization
  • Will Starr for the great tunes
  • Jane McGonigal
  • Kristen Rutherford
  • HitsHerMark, Wishi-san, RobMagus, BriEnigma and all the rest who designed posters
  • Anyone else who helped and we may have missed
  • Everyone else who attended, because you made ARGFest what it was

Be sure to check out various pictures from ARGFest in this Flickr photo pool along with this gallery and this gallery.

Finally, on a personal note, I need to just say how incredibly gratifying and humbling it was to witness the deep friendships that have developed, and the good times that are had by all, both at ARGFest and in the community in general, all because of this thing we call alternate reality gaming. It’s just amazing when you think about it, how many lives have been affected in such a positive way, and how many great relationships have been fostered (at least one even resulting in a wedding) all because of….Jeanine Salla. 🙂

You guys all rock.

Photo courtesy of celina63