Author: Geoff May (Page 1 of 4)

Staff Writer
Also known as 'thebruce', Geoff is a full time professional web and datasystems developer who was introduced to the world of ARGs when a mysterious website flashed at the end of Halo's theatrical preview trailer - - the trailhead for the viral marketing campaign for Bungie's Halo 2. Taken in by the mystery and intrigue, Geoff became an avid member of the ARG community, and has spent untold hours of his life in it ever since. His involvement in the community had him converted to an ARGer, and granted moderatorial status at Unfiction. He also began a website that would eventually become a high activity portal for ARG wikis and news at Geoff is a lover of science fiction, movies, volleyball, art and photography, and is also an avid musician. And while now over 30 years of age, he still takes public transit everywhere he goes... because he hasn't yet made the effort to get a driver's license or car. Hey, at least he can say he's environmentally aware.

Geoff owns and runs - a source for ARG wikis and news, and - a resource for thoughts and articles on transmedia, storytelling, and ARGs.

ARGFest 2010: Hotlanta Recap

Near, far, wherever you are – ARGFest 2010 in Atlanta, GA was a blast. Whether at ARGFest or its virtual Twitter counterpart #PretendARGFest, the annual conference dedicated to alternate reality games was filled with informative panels and discussions, hands on gaming, mysteries, and social and professional networking opportunities.  While the player community in attendance was less this year and creative minds and industry folk were in relative abundance, all aspects of the ARG/Transmedia genre and community seemed well represented.

To usher in ARGFest 2010, Brian Clark welcomed everyone and introduced the newly appointed “Grand Inquisitor“, Steve Peters. The first session was presented by Andrea Phillips of Deus Ex Machinatio. Andrea set the pace for the fest by presenting Beyond the Brunette – an analytical look at stereotypical gender roles in gaming and storytelling. By providing a look at numerous common character cliches, attendees couldn’t help but notice throughout the remainder of the conference how common they actually are. As one of her session’s focal points, Andrea posed the challenge to be unique and break away from using standard, typical archetypes.

Other panels and sessions this year covered a host of informative topics, including:

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An Arcade Classic Comes to Life, Secret Blueprints Revealed

An important and much hyped event in the Flynn Lives! ARG came to fruition May 6th–the public unveiling of Encom International’s online version of their 1981 arcade classic “Space Paranoids,” which debuted at San Diego’s Comic Con 2009 for the Flynn’s Arcade event.

As a prelude to its release, a special countdown teased the game’s release. Players who visited the countdown splash page were able to click and destroy Recognizers that appeared and hovered across the screen. It served merely as a timewaster, but if players had the patience to keep clicking and destroy 99 Recognizers, they received a badge on By persisting further and destroying 999, they received another badge.  Finally, when the countdown ended on May 6th, Encom published their much-anticipated Space Paranoids Online arcade game, just as Alan Bradley had announced.

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Halo ODST: Discovering Sadie’s Story

Halo 3: ODST / Sadie's Story“Prepare To Drop”
Those words have been resounding through the gaming community for months, and the clashing drums of excited gamers are growing as the release date for Halo 3: ODST draws nearer. But there’s something more in this video game release that’s attracting attention.

Back in 2004, an ARG milestone was achieved with the launch of a defining marketing campaign for the genre. Before Halo 2 was released, a mysterious URL appeared momentarily in a promotional trailer, leading the way to the discovery of another world, another story within the Halo universe. The campaign became known as “I Love Bees“. That campaign is what introduced me to the world of ARGs. Already being an enormous Halo fan, the combination of the Halo science fiction universe with this method of story-telling had me immediately hooked.

Chrysopteron / SuperintendentWith each iteration of the Halo video game franchise, there has been some form of extended experience, viral campaign, or ARG. For Halo 3 it was Iris. Bungie even produced their own relatively localized mysteries, such as the Cortana Letters leading up to Halo: Combat Evolved, and other strange A.I. users posting and interacting on the forums like The Smuggler and The Superintendent. Bungie had created a diverse, dynamic, and vast universe in which many stories could be told beyond the video game genre.

Sure enough, Halo 3: ODST will have a unique extended experience of its own. Or rather, an embedded tangential experience, for lack of a better term. Within the game, players will be able to uncover bits and pieces of a separate story arc throughout the campaign. This story is being called “Sadie’s Story“. Created by Fourth Wall Studios in partnership with Bungie Studios‘ Joe Staten and Ashley Wood, it’s an audio drama (not unlike the radio drama revealed in I Love Bees) that utilizes comic-book style story-telling and will reveal an exciting mystery throughout the campaign, told from the perspective of Sadie- a New Mombasa civilian, and her experience through the ordeal leading up to New Mombasa’s destruction. It’s reported to contain even more voice acting than ODST itself.

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Scholastic set to Shock its readers

Harris_TJF.jpgHot on the heels of the launch of the novel series The 39 Clues and its significant online experience aimed at young readers, Scholastic is working together with author M.G. Harris to create an extended experience for the second book in her series “The Joshua Files”, named ICE SHOCK.

“The Joshua Files” is a book series aimed at young readers 10+ years of age, much like 39 Clues. Harris’ first book, Invisible City, was released Feb 4, 2008 in the UK as the first book of this series. Harris drops hints about the upcoming novel and ARG in her website’s blog for her fans – she even asks if they’d rather hear more about Ice Shock‘s upcoming plot, or rumours about the alternate reality game. Harris and Scholastic plan to launch the ARG in March of 2009, and until then, she’ll be keeping her fans occupied and interested with teasers and contests.

At the time of this writing, Harris is running a contest for a bound proof of Ice Shock – using a code key, readers are challenged to find a hidden word in the content of Invisible City. Submit the word and register, and you may win. The contest, however, is only open to residents of the UK and Ireland.

Information about the ARG at this point is fairly hush-hush, but we know it’s coming. Stay tuned to her website for details if/when they’re released.

Invisible City: An ancient civilization is awakening. An ancient Maya prophecy is unfolding. One boy – Joshua – holds the key. When his archaeologist father goes missing in Mexico, Josh suspects alien abduction. But when he realises his dad was murdered, Josh is caught in a race to find the legendary ‘Ix Codex’ – a lost Mayan prophecy which predicts the end of the world.

Ice Shock: Josh is even more certain now that his father’s death was no accident – and he’s starting to wonder if he can really trust his closest allies. When he learns of a secret buried within the Ix Codex, he must journey back to the secret Mexican city of Ek Naab. Shocking news awaits him about the mysterious Bracelet of Itzamna. Did Josh’s dad really take it? And where is it now? Josh has no idea what’s waiting for him…

The ARG (source: Readers, I have been SO busy with stuff (…) most of all working on the Alternate Reality Game we’re developing to co-launch with ICE SHOCK. That’s right, I said Alternate Reality Game – ARG! Conceptually, our game is a cross between Lonelygirl15 and The Beast. But! It’s a secret. So don’t tell, okay?

The secret’s out!

For more information about Harris and The Joshua Files, bookmark,, or the fan community hub Keep a watch on this site as we get closer to the launch of Ice Shock and its ARG in March of 2009.

Citizens of Virtue

jwtsc.jpgWe’ve been hearing a lot lately about the “Citizens of Virtue,” and they sure seem to be up to some shady practices. In this ARG-that-campaigns-against-ARGs, the C.O.V. are a fundamentalist Christian group that may or may not be holding some individuals captive while also apparently lying about their business practices. Citizens of Virtue is part of an Alternate Reality Game created by Rob Bell and Don Golden, as a promotion for their latest book – Jesus Wants to Save Christians. Yes, it is in fact of a rare breed – the Christian ARG.

Our first encounter with the C.O.V. came from an email we received in late September from a Ms. Savannah Merks, listed as the Public Relations Specialist for the group. In the email was a press release which claimed, among other things, that, “[a] sweeping wave of ‘alternate reality’ games is steering our nation down a dangerous path, according to the Citizens of Virtue (C.O.V.), a Christian organization dedicated to improving Christian lifestyles around the world.” Merks herself noted that, “[w]ith alternate reality games, literally millions of people could be caught up simultaneously in a mind-altering swirl of confused thinking.” Yeah, imagine that!

Since then, we’ve received a number of game tips pointing us to the game, and while it was part of the discussion in episode 63 of the ARG Netcasts, we know we’re a bit behind on getting involved in this one. However, we know that the community discussion at the Unfiction forums will help those who wish to get started, and we’re pretty sure that anyone there will be glad to help get you up to speed!

We’ve got more information about the plot, the book tie-in, and a few interesting images of swag cards we received in the mail after the hump, so click on through!

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Tying up loose ends in fairyland

HETFET logoNot only was it a tight box office for Hellboy II, releasing just one week before Batman: The Dark Knight, but the alternate reality game running in its shadow was also competing against TDK’s massive viral campaign. As a result, the game, which was a joint venture between Hellboy II director Guillermo del Toro and Double-20, found itself flying in under the radar for the most part. However, the community following it very much enjoyed it, myself included. There is, however, still one minor piece of content that never got a chance to see the light of day, which is revealed at the end of this article.

For those unfamiliar with Double-20, they were part of the team that created the alternate reality game known as Ocular Effect for ABC Family’s Fallen last year. For this campaign, the story focused on Lexi Lloyd, a girl who loves fairies and whose father disappeared years ago. Living with her mother, Lexi worried about a cat she had found and returned to a mysterious old lady, was bothered by prank calls and a stalker on YouTube, and was eventually led to try to contact her father.

Action also revolved around an organization named HETFET, an acronym for Humans for Ethical Treament of Fairies, Elves, and Trolls. Backed by Guillermo del Toro himself, HETFET ran rallies in a couple of cities to bring awareness to Troll abuse, and was instrumental in bringing down Augustine Pharmaceuticals – the creator of the miracle “anti-aging drug” Uthyntrol, or “glamour” as described in Hellboy II.

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