Among 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:
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.