Author: Jonathan Prendergast

Alternate Reality Gaming: A Dog-Eat-Dog World?

lettersmall.jpgI am sure that we have all pondered how the world of Alternate Reality Gaming will shape up in years to come. Will our genre be overshadowed by rabid publishing houses, clawing at each other for the largest market share, or will the dedicated PM with 63 dollars and three cents reign supreme?

There tends to be a peaceful coexistence between Grassroots and Corporate games. There is no visible attempt to pull players away from one ARG and draw them to another. The consensus of most, if not all, ARG Puppetmasters is to see their fellow game maker succeed in their foray behind the curtain. It is disheartening, to say the least, to see people talking about our world being “Grassroots vs. Corporate.”

The only real disadvantage of a grassroots game it that many have launched, attracted followers, and then collapsed prematurely the next weekend! It is mainly this fear that stops us normally eager ARG’ers from diving headfirst into a newly launched grassroots experience. Investing our time and effort in it only to see it meltdown becomes depressing after the nth time.

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Halo 2’s “I Love Bees” Alternate Reality Game

ilbreview.jpgThe story of I Love Bees proved to be slightly confusing at times, but the gist of it is this: Beekeeper Dana had a site which was attacked by some sort of virus; a countdown was placed on the site which spawned endless hours of speculation as to what the hell “System Peril Distributed Reflex” represented. Besides looking at the odd snippet of information through corrupted pictures and jarbled text, all the players could do was wait on tenterhooks until July 27th, on which “Network Throttling would erode…”

Sure enough, come noon July 27th, is updated. Someone was mad at Dana and posted pictures of her all over the site; Dana freaked out and decided to flee the country.

The next major plot advancement came August 10th, when “the medium has metastasized”. A lot of information was posted on the site- the most important being GPS Coordinates. 220 were posted in total, all of which pointed to locations the length and breadth of the United States.

On August 17th, to the dismay of some, the coordinates changed- now there were 210 in total. However, there were now specific times telling people when to be at a particular coordinate- which proved to quell a lot of confusion. The importance of being at the “axons” was further emphasized when Dana added to the excitement by implying on her blog that we really should get to them! All players could do was kill time, and many found the night of August 23 to be a sleepless one.

So what happened when the axons (pre-determined payphones in large cities) went hot?

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