Free! Psychic Readings! Also Free! A Chance To Be A Human Sacrifice!

fpr.jpgAmong the myriad bizarre religious groups that have cropped up on the internet, one of the more humorous is the Church of Google, which argues that Google fits the criteria for a deity. We’re not so sure, but we will admit that it makes a pretty good psychic.

At least, that’s where we assume the puppetmaster of Free! Psychic Readings! is getting the information for his character’s cold readings, with varying and sometimes humorous results.

News of the game arrived at the Unforums via an anonymous tip sent to UnFiction’s SpaceBass, pointing to psychic Miss Corinn’s website. Capitalized letters in one of the testimonials on the site led to a blog written by Frank, a man who claims to have lost his job due to false accusations by Miss Corinn, a cheery Miss-Cleo-style psychic who can “gaze across space and time” to tell you what you need to know. Frank has dedicated himself to exposing Miss Corinn as a fraud, and information on his site thickened the plot considerably by directing players to the website for PhoenixFire Corporation, which promotes belief in the “metaphysical world,” claims Miss Corinn as a “project,” and supplies subjects for a Satanist coven to sacrifice. Add in Frank’s star-crossed love affair with the descendant of a psychic who started PhoenixFire Corporation, his death, and his posthumous communications with players, and you have a recipe for drama.

The game has attracted a community of devoted players with its combination of mystery, humor, and clever, lighthearted opportunities for player participation, such as the psychic poetry contest. The introductory concept seems to have been a draw for players. Sylvia, author of the detailed Story So Far guide, says it was the idea of psychic victimization which caught her interest: “It was the twist ‘a victim of a psychic,’ I can see that as there are only very few real psychics in the world and the rest are just frauds. And I was curious as to how Frank had been victimized.” For Ruuku, it was the game’s infectious sense of fun, as well as the relationships he formed with the rest of the players: “I guess what drew me to the game was the first interaction with Miss Corinn, I thought I’d jump in with a awkward question (that I won’t say out loud ) to see what kind of response I would get, and I’m pleased to say it made me smile. It seems that game does this a lot, I think my face is a little stuck now! …It’s the most fun I’ve had in a ARG; I laugh, I sometimes cry (with laughter of course!) and I love the players!”

F!PR! is also notable among grassroots games for the amount of content provided to players — at last count (as noted in ARG Netcast #4 — listen for a plot summary emphasizing different points than the one above) there were 19 in-game sites, all apparently hosted for free in a good demonstration of the fact that “grassroots” doesn’t have to mean “small story.”

We at ARGNet may not be psychic, but we do have a warm relationship with Google: our intrepid investigative reporters turned up the PM’s website and have breaking news for you! According to the site, F!PR! will conclude on November 19th, and the PM will be in bringingdownmisscorinn for a post-game AIM chat on November 20th, at 4:30 EST. For those who are enjoying the game, it may be of interest that the PM has two more games in development.

So now is your chance to experience the game before it draws to a close, and to get your Free! Psychic Reading!

For a quick catch-up, Sylvia recommends the following steps:

1. Set up a profile at F!PR’s Social Networking Site!.

2. Read the Story So Far thread on Unforums.

3. Visit the following three blogs:

Victims of a Psychic
Curse the Black Crow
Putting Out the Fire

The blogs contain links to all the other websites. And as always, the game’s players are probably the best resource. (Special thanks to Sylvia and Ruuku for their patient guidance through the complex plot!)

Editor’s Note: The URL for the PM’s F!PR information page is still undergoing changes at the time of this article’s publication. If the URL given above no longer works, you can find information about the game under the subheading “Previous Games” on the site’s left sidebar. We’ve also updated the date, time and location for the post-game chat, as the Puppetmaster has indicated on his site.


  1. A. Nonymous

    You might want to spoilertag that website. It’s got some pretty heavy-handed game spoilers there…

  2. Ruuku

    Was there really any reason you had to post the PM’s site?

  3. Jonathan Waite

    A couple of responses here…

    First, our target audience for articles is not necessarily the existing player base of any game or campaign. As a news source, we are constantly having to write concise, informative articles for the general public. Therefore, if we receive first-hand information that a game is scheduled to end four days after we publish an article about it, then it is fully within our right to disclose the public information to our broader audience. In fact, in this case, we see it as a disservice to our readers if we were to write the article without mentioning the fact that we received this information. For your information, incidentally, the information about the PM’s site came directly from four separate Google news alerts which many on our staff received through the course of the past few days, none of which were directly related to the game at all (three triggered by the term “Cathy’s Book” and one triggered by the term “Alternate Reality Gaming”).

    Second, we don’t “spoilertag” information. We linked to the site which we found through the Google Alert, and as such, it is the responsibility of the reader to make the choice on whether or not to click on the link. And, also, the link we included in the article contained no specific information about the plot or story arc of the game itself, despite the fact that story/plot information was clearly and publicly available at the time we published the story. Therefore, we feel that we were within our rights as a news reporting web site to present the article as we did, and we stand by the article and its author 100%.

  4. EdricGames

    a couple of further responses here…

    First, while your target audience for your article is not necessarily the player base of any particular game, you must obviously realize that players of the game are going to read it. Think about it; if a newspaper were to receive information about the season finale of a television show four days before it aired, they have more respect for their readers than to publish the information without warning faithful viewers what is coming. In fact, many readers would see it as a disservice to them if the newspaper were to publish this information. For your information, the fact that this website is written in past tense as if November 19th had already passed should have given you an indication that it wasn’t meant to be seen yet. The fact that it doesn’t appear on any search engine, coupled with the fact that it is obviously written for an after-the-fact launch, should have caused you to have better judgement than you did.

    Second, you SHOULD spoilertag information. It should be treated the same as any other entertainment form, if you want ARG to become as popular as television or books (which I think we all are hoping for some day.) A respectable website giving a plot summary of an upcoming novel always warns readers that plot details are ruined. A respectable newspaper article revealing ending information about a movie always includes a warning for readers. Yes, in this case it was the choice of the reader whether or not to click the link, but your article was written as if the link only gave information about me, not about ending details of the game. The fact that plot points were revealed was in no way “clear” to readers, nor was the site “publicly available.” The article was written to suggest a simple google search could have turned up the information, which reflects negatively on me.

    Thus, the information should have been spoilertagged. You were within your rights to present the article as you did, but if this falls within your sense of JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY and MORALITY, then I think you have a couple of things you need to work out.


  5. Jonathan Waite

    In light of recent comments, ARGNet makes the following statements:

    All information discovered regarding this article was publicly available. As mentioned previously, Google Alerts, based on the Google search engine, are created by users that wish to have an email sent to them at regular intervals that outlines the latest news and blog entries on specific search terms. In this case, multiple members of our staff received Google Alert emails with this web site linked, stemming from the terms (specifically) “Cathy’s Book”, “Last Call Poker”, and “Alternate Reality Gaming”. The results of the Google Alert can be duplicated at Google’s Blog Search — the web site link appears as the tenth entry in this search, the fourth entry in this search, and the third of three entries in this search.

    We are a news source that reaches a large global audience. As such, we’re not able to cater specifically to a game-playing audience while ignoring the interests of a much larger demographic of readers. This article was written with the intention of informing the largest number of people with the most accurate information available.

    We continue to stand by the article and the way in which it was presented.

  6. vpisteve

    EdricGames, if you don’t want content to be seen, you simply can NOT put it ANYWHERE on line until it’s ready to be made public. The responsibility for this incident was yours and yours alone.

    Buck up, accept the responsibility for your mistake, and learn for next time. 🙂