A Group of Friends, Mourning Brian Clark


“All art movements start with a small group of friends…when historians look back on this phase in art, the movement that we will be a part of, what they will marvel at is how interconnected we are.” Brian Clark was fascinated with the formation of movements and creating scenes, and was tireless in his efforts to foster a community of creators looking to find new ways of telling stories in the digital age. Yesterday, Brian passed away after a brief bout with cancer, leaving behind a community and industry he affected deeply.

As president of GMD Studios (originally Global Media Design), Clark helped construct the web realities for Nothing So Strange and Freakylinks, extending the narrative storytelling of film and television onto the internet. He continued exploring different ways of telling stories through his work on beloved alternate reality games like Sega’s Beta-7, Audi’s Art of the Heist, and Eldritch Errors. His projects delighted in stretching the boundaries of fictional worlds outside their comfort zones, asking players to do everything from “stealing” SD cards out of cars on display at events to joining characters at a Lovecraftian cabin in the woods.

Clark worked tirelessly behind the scenes to mentor new creators in the space, offering them help on everything from the craft of subversive storytelling to the realities of running a small business, including knowing what to charge for their work. He delighted in playing with other peoples’ creations and testing their limits, whether that meant donning a Ronald Reagan mask and dancing under his “Jihadi Jazzhands” persona, or creating a well-endowed, chain-smoking sock puppet named “She-Crab” for a game originally intended for children. He was an irrepressible prankster, leading to frequently outlandish conversations punctuated by his staccato laughter.

His impact was not limited to the alternate reality gaming and transmedia storytelling arenas: he was a founding member of Indiewire, helped create an online marketplace for brand journalism, worked on a documentary about the next generation of astronauts, has been accused on occassion of inventing the spambot, and found a creative use for LinkedIn’s “endorsements” functionality.

More than anything, he’s been the dynamo that vociferously argued for the people who knew him to resist complacency, pushing them to make things to see if they’d work, and to figure out what went wrong when they didn’t. People impacted by Clark have turned to Facebook to offer their condolences and share their memories of him by sharing “things I learned from Brian Clark”.

We’re going to miss you, Brian. You took your not-so-small group of friends, and fused them into something bigger through the generosity of your friendship and the sheer force of your personality.


  1. Klaus Heesch

    Its difficult to summarize someone so freaking dynamic, but this is well-done, Michael. Thank you. The world needs more people like Brian. Both the real world, and the gaming world. What a loss.

  2. karine halpern


  3. Dr. Nick De Bonis

    For those of us who don’t know, a quick sentence about how he passed would be appropriate/helpful.

    :-{) n

  4. Michael Andersen


  5. Gene Clark

    I am Brian’s father. He was admitted to the hospital on June 18, when he passed out on the street on his way to the ceremony to announce the rebranding of GMD in New York City.

    His mother Carol and stepfather Max and cousin Jason and I rushed to his side. Many people came to see him in his last days. He was surrounded by friends and family, all of which loved him so much.

    He seemed to be babbling incoherently at the end, but Mike Monello explained what was going on, a fascinating observation on “end of life”. Mike recognized that Brian was, in his mind, in an ARG. Mike asked who the puppet master was; Brian answered with the name of a puppet-master (I don’t remember the name) who designs games that have no positive outcome.

    Brian asked Mike, “What can you do when there are no options left?” Then Brian passed into the acceptance of his fate, and the fighting for life transcended into a calm demeanor, still talking to friends and colleagues about “you two should get up to something”, just like his whole life of bringing together people he admired and loved.

    I will continue to miss him dearly.