Author: Jonathan Waite

Peter Weyland Delivers Stunning TED Talk…in 2023?

Sometimes the journey down the rabbit hole is an interesting one. In a recent Twitter post, Damon Lindelof linked to a sound file he deemed “Rad. Just… Rad.” The file in question, available for your listening pleasure at Soundcloud, is a remix which includes audio from a TED talk delivered by Peter Weyland. The message is fairly inspirational, concluding with Weyland’s assertion that he “will settle for nothing short of greatness, or [he] will die trying.” Alas, in this case, a picture tells a thousand words more than the few Weyland used to entertain his captive audience.

Upon further review, the original video was found at a special TED page in which we discover that Weyland looks remarkably similar to Guy Pearce, the wonderful character actor. And lo and behold, the title not only reveals that the TED talk in question occurs in 2023, but that it is “[a] TEDTalk from the future as envisioned by Prometheus director Ridley Scott.” The video adds an additional layer of depth to the talk, picked up by some exceptionally rad hover-cameras that cover the action. And thus the rabbit hole deepens, leading down the trail for a viral marketing campaign for the upcoming film Prometheus.

Quite a few online communities and blogs have been closely following the campaign, and have uncovered a few other interesting, albeit fairly benign, aspects of this particular viral campaign. For starters, there is a fancy web site dedicated to Weyland Corp at weylandindustries.com, which hosts the TED Talk video (don’t miss the bit.ly link displayed on the screen at 0:52, as it leads… somewhere) and provides background information about the company. You can also register as an investor if you’d like to get email updates on the goings-on of the company (which, unfortunate-in-a-suspension-of-disbelief-kind-of-way, clearly come from Twentieth Century Fox US). But wait, there’s more! At the About Us page, there happens to be a flashing light hidden amongst the star field surrounding Earth, and flashing lights often lead to secret sections of websites, no? Without spoiling it for you, there’s a thread at the Unfiction forums where people have done the hard work for you, and the result is a spectacular piece of art not to be missed.

Unfortunately, that’s where the trail ends, for now. The film is set to be released in June, so there are still quite a few weeks for other things to develop, especially as quite a few sections of the Weyland Industries website are suspiciously locked. In the meantime, there may or may not be a glyph puzzle hidden among the images (secret and otherwise) on the Weyland Industries web site, so if you’re holding a flame for the hot new summer blockbuster, this might be right up your alley. However, if you’re simply a fan of awesome and interesting TED talks, perhaps this one is more your style?

PICNIC ’09: Not Your Ordinary Picnic

PICNIC 2009Question: What do you get when you combine interesting speakers, special events, hands-on labs, two contests, networking opportunities, an Ignite event, and dinner? Answer: The PICNIC event in Amsterdam, which kicks off its fourth annual festival in just under three weeks!

Once again, ARGNet is proud to be a Network Sponsor of the event, which has been an annual must-see for those interested in the fields of cross-media, transmedia and social networking for the past three years. This year’s festival is the biggest yet, and it’s going to be a test of endurance for our man-on-the-scene Daniel van Gool, who will be at the conference again.

The line-up for the week is formidable and wonderful, starting with keynote speeches from such people as Peter Molyneaux (Lionhead Studios), Niklas Zennström (Skype) and Ed Ulbrich (Digital Domain). Of the other speakers and presenters, Daniel will be paying close attention to Alice Taylor (Channel4), Dan Hon (Six to Start), Kevin Slavin (Area/Code), Matt Adams (Blast Theory) and Kati London (Area/Code) as they convene for the panel “Games That People Play” on September 24th. Daniel may also want to check out some of the special events scheduled for the festival — “Reality Continuum” is a really cool and interesting title which sounds like it could be fun to take in. Or maybe he’ll make his way over to the PICNIC ’09 Labs for some hands-on experiences at the Augmented City Lab. Any way you slice it, PICNIC ’09 is going to be magical and unforgettable, and we know Daniel is already counting down the days until it starts.

Of course, some of you out there are probably thinking of attending PICNIC ’09, and if you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, we’ve got great news for you. As sponsors of the event we have a special discount code for our readers, which we will tell you…. after the jump.

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The End… is the Beginning?

theihcYou know when you get that feeling that you should have done something last week but you forget what it was? Today was one of those days for me, but luckily a little birdie reminded me about The Institute for Human Continuity, an ARG that launched (gasp!) in November 2008 in connection with the movie 2012. While this campaign has been going for ten months now, activity has been ramping up in recent weeks, with a letter making its way into ARGFest-o-Con 2009 swag bags, as detailed on the Unfiction forums by our own Celina Beach.

We have it on good authority that things are about to get very, very interesting in the next few HOURS, so head on over to theIHC.com (currently redirecting to instituteforhumancontinuity.org) and get your ticket for the survival lottery before it’s too late!

Sweet nDreams: Life After Xi

Earlier this year, the Xi alternate reality game invaded the Playstation Home community-based service with cryptic clues scattered across the virtual playspace that Home provides. The game was billed as the first console-based ARG, and put nDreams (the company behind the game) into the spotlight. Recently, the company announceda return to the Home community with new projects, and another ARG project. According to David Varela, ARG producer at nDreams, “[i]t won’t be based in PlayStation Home – sorry, Home fans – but I fully expect it to be one of the biggest ARGs in the world next year.” Varela adds that the ARG is still in development and will not be released until early in 2010, but the company is very busy behind the scenes. In fact, they are expanding their team through a recruitment drive as they search for a Senior Programmer, Programmer, Artist, Web Developer/Engineer and Finance Manager.

We will keep tabs on this new, mysterious nDreams project, as can you by following them via RSS.

For Everything You Gain, You Lose Something Else

goodbyeWell folks, here comes the day I know I’m going to look back on and think, “Wow, I wish I had written something much more insightful and interesting.” Starting September 1, 2009, I will no longer be the senior editor and owner of ARGNet. This is a decision I’ve reached after a great deal of thinking and soul-searching, and I know I’m walking away from a great group of people that work behind the scenes here. What I’ve come to realize is that with a new job starting in September and with two kids that are active in extracurricular activities, I don’t have the time necessary to put into this site anymore. So, rather than try to muddle through at a sub-par pace, I’ve asked Michael Andersen to take the reins, and thankfully, Michael has accepted the job.

When ARGNet (then ARGN) first arrived on the scene, it was a network of like-minded web sites, and I has happy to have my Lockjaw-inspired site GuysGuise included. I worked with Steve Peters, Sean C. Stacey, Bill Shaw and others to make a Flash banner that appeared above all of the member web sites, but over time, that network dissolved and ARGN became more of a news blog. I started writing news articles in 2004 (yay, ReGenesis!) along with other community members, and Steve handed control of the site to me a few months later in the summer of 2005.
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ARGFest-o-Con 2009 Only Days Away, Auction Tomorrow

As most of you are undoubtedly aware, ARGFest-o-Con 2009 starts this Friday in Portland, Oregon, and those attending are in for an amazing time. With a Must Love Robots speed dating event, a stellar line-up of panel discussions and presentations on Saturday, and a keynote dinner featuring Jordan Weisman of Smith & Tinker, this year’s event looks to be an entertaining and exciting event. Of course, you can get the latest information at the official conference web site, and we will have panel summaries and event news here starting next week.

One of the things that the public may not realize is that the costs involved in presenting and producing ARGFest-o-Con are high. I know from being part of the Directing Committee that it’s more than just blood, sweat and tears being poured into the planning of this year’s event. There would be no conference if not for the generous donations of so many (including the conference sponsors) and the hours of work put in by volunteers. Now, you have a chance to be an important contributor to ARGFest-o-Con and Unfiction by bidding on rare, valuable ARG swag! Tomorrow night, starting at 5:30 pm PT, ARGNet is hosting an auction that will take place live at the Courtyard by Marriott Portland City Center. The auction will involve those in attendance both at the hotel and in the #arg-netcast chat room on chat1.ustream.tv. The auction will be streamed live at live.argnetcast.com and is estimated to last just over an hour. You can see all of the items at the ARGFest-o-Con wiki, and if you are keen on a particular item or three, send in a pre-auction bid to [email protected].

All proceeds from the auction go directly to ARGFest-o-Con, so bid early and bid often. There are a lot of one-of-a-kind and rare items in the auction, and items left over after tomorrow’s auction will go into a separate silent auction available only to ARGFest-o-Con attendees on Saturday. We hope to see many of our readers at live.argnetcast.com tomorrow night for this event!

Getting Played

longnoseRecently, I’ve learned that the author of a article here on ARGNet isn’t who he said he was. According to this post at the Unfiction forum, the person we thought was Martin Aggett isn’t really a person at all; it turns out that Martin Aggett is a persona, a character to be featured in an upcoming alternate reality game. Martin Aggett is, as the person responsible for creating him claims, “a complete work of fiction.” This caused me to take a step back last night, to take time to examine the situation and think about what it means here. This is what I’ve come up with:

  1. Although Martin Aggett isn’t real, the article will stay put. I’m going to trust that the person that wrote the article didn’t have a hidden agenda when he wrote the content, although submitting it in the guise of a future ARG character was… how do I say this… not the best option. The content is still a great read, and I have enjoyed the comments added after publishing it.
  2. Needless to say, I won’t be accepting any more articles from Martin Aggett. Our web site shouldn’t be regarded as “in-game,” and I’m disheartened to find out that we were deceived about the fictional nature of the author before publishing the article. I hope that our readers understand that our goal here at ARGNet is to deliver news and report on games, not to be used as a promotional device for any past, present or future campaign.
  3. We are going to change the byline on the article submitted by Martin Aggett. One of the troubling aspects of this situation is that I asked the person I thought to be Martin what name he wanted for the byline, he said, “Martin Aggett will be fine.” This was only two weeks ago. I had no idea that Martin was a fictional creation, and would have never published the article under that byline had I known.

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Spring Cleaning, Part Two

streetsweeperAs promised, here is our second installment of the spring cleaning of the ARGNet inbox, with game tips and news items dating back to the beginning of the week. Enjoy!

May 21: “N” sent us in the following game tip which he found on “this new site online”: I found this article below on this new site online. There have been random texts with riddles going around about it. What do you guys make of it? I figure this is your area. ——————————— Is When they were Pharaohs really an A.R.G. in disguise? by E.A. Wallis First there was The Beast, then there was I Love Bees and Lost Experience, now an A.R.G. in a story on ancient Egypt? In an age where alternate reality gaming has taken on many forms, there are practically no limits in the way that mass online adventures are now being played, but in the novelization of an upcoming theatrical stage play? In a way When they were Pharaohs might represent the ultimate in reality fact finding, puzzle-solving missions, in what is looking to be another world-hopping adventure, but you’ll need to be an Egyptologist or hieroglyphics expert to crack some of these modern takes on ancient riddles, because though some clues are hidden out in plain sight with hieroglyphic translations conveniently included, others are presented completely without. Of course the ancient Egyptians themselves had games and other leisurely pastimes to remedy their boredom (although without Facebook) but a modern-day reenactment of the mythological quest of Horus and Isis to revenge Osiris? With the re-discovery of the mummy of Hatshepsut in 2007, this real life saga has enough drama and irony, worthy of a Greek Tragedy. I may have found the eye of Horus, but if you can tell me where Osiris is laid, you might as well solve the riddle of the Sphinx. We did a little Google-fu and found this exact text (save for one line) on Craigslist ads from Los Angeles and Baltimore. After looking at the web site from the ad, I’m going to go out on a limb and say no, not an ARG in disguise. However, prove me wrong and earn a place in my heart.

May 21: The good and wonderful Tony Walsh send in this tidbit about an upcoming event: Hi guys, just wanted to let you know about this upcoming event in San Francisco. Tony Walsh (Phantom Compass), Lance Weiler (the WorkBook Project), and Ken Ecklund (sic) (World Without Oil) will all be appearing at KQED in San Francisco next Saturday. http://www.bavc.org/index.php?option=com_registrationpro&Itemid=935&func=details&did=903 On Saturday, May 30 at 1:30PM Pacific in the KQED ATRIUM, Tony Walsh (Phantom Compass) and Ken Eklund (World Without Oil) will present on the topic of games for change: Games for Change has turned into its own movement of creatives, technologists and gamers who are developing interactive and game projects driven by social issues.Tony Walsh, CEO of Canadian game design firm Phantom Compass, and Ken Eklund, developer of the award-winning ARG World Without Oil unpack some of the most successful social change games and related creative experiments and provide a blueprint for filmmakers looking to get into “game space.” Hey, that’s only three days from now! Hopefully this meas that some of our Bay-area readers can make it down to see this presentation!

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Spring Cleaning – Game tips, news and more

streetsweeperIt’s been a whirlwind of activity for us here at ARGNet, and the inbox is overflowing! We haven’t had much of a chance to look into most of these, but every rabbit hole is worth taking a peek into, so here’s what we have from the past few weeks:

April 22nd: A reader named Laura was kind enough to send in this newsworthy item: Kaede writes a monthly column in the Japanese creative magazine “Brain”, and this month’s column is all about ARGs! I (@lauraehall on Twitter) and a few other players (@jasper_su, @cubicgarden, Roberta Romero and @redbanshee) were contacted about using our photos, and they sent me a copy in return. The PDF is available at lauraehall.com/brainmag.pdf. They talk about Find the Lost Ring and Art of the Heist, and Unfiction gets a mention too, so I thought you guys would want to see! Thanks Laura!

April 23rd: We received this game tip from someone calling themselves Reasonableman: A game called “Help Lisa” is now playing. The start point is: http://www.youtube.com/pandoralee999 The game is promotion for The Ennead (enneadseries.com). There is a thread dedicated to this game at the Unfiction forums.

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Remembering Dave Szulborski

meandtyler_smToday is an extremely tough day for fans and friends of Dave Szulborski. Dave has passed away after battling leukemia for a long time, and he is remembered by his wife Marianne, his son Tyler, and so many people across the world. Beyond his reputation as a consummate professional and an innovative, creative designer and producer of alternate reality games, Dave was an inspiration and friend to many in the ARG community.

Dee Cook broke the news on the Unfiction forums earlier today, and we’d like to relay the following information from her post:

If you are interested in attending the funeral services, here’s the information:

Sunday night, visitation at Long Funeral Home, 500 Linden Street, Bethlehem, PA from 6-8 PM.

Monday morning, memorial service at St. John’s Windish Lutheran Church, 617 East Fourth Street, Bethlehem, PA at 11 AM.

If you would like to send along your respects:

It was Dave’s wish that in lieu of flowers, people contribute towards his son’s education. You can do so by sending a check to the following:

Long Funeral Home
500 Linden Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018

Make the check payable to Long Funeral Home, and put “Tyler Szulborski Education Fund” in the memo.

Also, there is a memorial page posted at the funeral home site where you can write in the guest book, and there will be an obituary posted on The Morning Call tomorrow.

As most of us are just now learning about the news, it’s tough to put into words the impact Dave has had on the staff here at ARGNet. From the bottom of my heart, I can say that the memories I have of Dave will stay with me forever, and the body of work he has completed will always be an important part of the history of gaming. Godspeed, friend.

www.daveszulborski.com

SXSW Interactive awards for TDK ARG, We Tell Stories, Lost Zombies

2009-sxsw-web-awards Image courtesy of the SXSW Interactive Web Awards site.

It’s a big night for three campaigns tonight, as the teams behind The Dark Knight ARG, Lost Zombies and We Tell Stories have won major awards at the 12th annual SXSW Interactive Web Awards. The awards were handed out earlier tonight at the Hilton Austin Downtown, and according to The Underwire blog at Wired, the major hardware found its way into the hands of the wonderful people behind these highly successful campaigns.

One of the biggest wins of the night came for We Tell Stories. This project was a collaboration between Six to Start and Penguin Books and, as reported here in March of 2008, was a way for media-savvy designers to retell classic stories through the use of technology. We Tell Stories won in the Experimental category, but as a bonus, also walked away with the Best in Show Award. This is a monumental win for the company, formed at the beginning of 2008 by former members of Mind Candy.

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A novel idea: Dot Robot has its own secret website

doyouknowanysecrets

It was about a month ago when we received a game tip about the web site doyouknowanysecrets.com, which was found in the book Dot Robot by Jason Bradbury. In the context of the novel, which is geared towards a younger demographic, the web site is discovered by one of the protagonists. Arriving at the site, it appears (on the surface) to be a sounding wall for anonymous comments, and after poking around for a bit this afternoon, I can’t find anything for further investigation, but I may be missing something… obvious, having not read the book yet. Perhaps one of our intrepid readers can point us towards the more secret secrets in our comments?

The use of the Internet to expand the narrative of a book is nothing new, but it’s always encouraging to see it happening, especially with books for kids and teens. I’m a big fan of getting the young’uns more interested in reading, and tying the written word to the World Wide Web has worked for such properties as 39 Clues, Ice Shock and Skeleton Creek. Hopefully those that have been entertained by Dot Robot will enjoy the secrets discovered at the web site.

Stop TARP ARG protests to rock SXSW?

tarpargIt would seem that there is trouble brewing at the SXSW Interactive festival in Austin this week, and it’s a very persistent kind of trouble – protesters. On March 11th, Steve Peters posted the following on his Twitter account: Hmm, some group is protesting our SXSWi panel?? RT @StopTarpARG Alternate Realities are set to destroy our children. Visiting the Twitter account for StopTarpARG leads to their web site, stoptarparg.com. Once your eyes have adjusted to the multi-font experience at that site, the message sinks in: there’s a new ARG set to launch at SXSW, called TARP ARG 2009 for the kids, and according to StopTarpARG, it’s a government-sponsored attempt at brainwashing the minds of America’s children in the face of hard economic times.

Of course, the folks behind TARP ARG 2009 for the kids see it differently, claiming to be part of the economic bailout assistance program in the U.S. while promising to build a “direct interface with [their] targeted child audience.” Brian Cain’s name is all over this, and a simple Googling leads back to Campfire, the company behind many of the most popular ARGs of all time. Brian is going to be at SXSW Interactive on the same panel as Steve Peters, so we assume this is related to the hijacking of the panel Steve alluded to in the recent press release about his new company, No Mimes Media.

For those curious enough to sort through this madness, StopTarpARG has set up a phone number (866-397-7406) where Brian Cain’s apparent manifesto can be heard, while the TARP ARG folks have an email address where people can ask their questions. It would also seem that events are starting already, two days before the scheduled panel discussion, as our own Michael Andersen has outlined recently in the Unfiction forum discussion thread for Stop TARP ARG. In my opinion, this should be a fun way of showcasing alternate reality gaming, and I’m sad that I can’t attend the event myself. We’ll keep up with the Tweets and the shenanigans leading up to and following the panel discussion, so stay tuned.

Our down time, explained

network_cablesIf you’ve arrived at the site in the past few hours and had some trouble connecting, there’s a good reason. Our lovely (and I’m not being snarky, I do like them a lot) hosts at Dreamhost have been responding to my support emails about intermittent downtime today, and they have offered to move the site to a newer server!

This hopefully means fewer problems and improved uptime, and if there are any problems along the way, they’ll be helping out with that as well. So, if you find the site hard to get to in the next 72 hours, it’s a temporary effect of a more permanent solution.

No Mimes Media: New company, familiar faces

nomimesWhile the news hasn’t been all peaches and cream in the world, what with companies finding themselves in financial trouble and the what not, here’s a feel-good story for fans of alternate reality games: a new start-up called No Mimes Media has been officially launched, and there are some pretty heavy-duty names attached to the “full-media company.” We received a press release late last night, and here are the details:

No Mimes Media is a collaboration between “[f]ormer 42Entertainment creatives Behnam Karbassi, Maureen McHugh and Steve Peters,” which will be based out of Los Angeles and Austin. The company bills itself as one that “produces engaging cross-platform narrative entertainment, popularly known as Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), to support a wide-range of projects including feature films, television, games and original content.” You may know the trio of Karbassi, McHugh and Peters for their work on large-scale ARGs like Why So Serious and Year Zero while under contract with 42Entertainment. You may also know Steve Peters as the original owner of ARGNet (then ARGN). Needless to say, this is a very experienced, savvy group of creative designers, and it appears that they have hit the ground running, as they are already reaching out to project partners for opportunities.

Perhaps by design, this announcement comes days before a panel scheduled at SXSW Interactive, entitled You’re Living in Your Own Private Branded Entertainment Experience. The panel includes Peters, who hints in the press release that the panel may be hijacked, commenting, “We’ll be announcing something that’s sort of an ARG wrapped in enigma wrapped in an ARG; and it’s not without controversy, let me tell you!” More controversial than a nearly naked man with temporary tattoos? Sounds juicy! Hopefully, we will have someone on hand to take in the panel and relate their experiences here in the days to come.

Editor’s note: Article title revised after initial publication.

Six Minutes to Midnight: Watchmen goes interactive (sort-of)

6minutesA mere two days before the release of The Watchmen, the highly anticipated film version of the famous graphic novel, another viral web site has launched, and this time, participants are thrust into the middle of a narrated peek at the six main characters of the story. Six Minutes to Midnight is the latest in a long string of web-based buzz-generating campaigns promoting the film, and has the look and feel similar to Eagle Eye: Freefall, the enjoyable 10-minute experience first discovered in September 2008.

Upon arriving at the site, players are asked to provide their first name and, if they feel up to it, their phone number — so far, U.S. and Canadian numbers have been proven to work. For those that choose the web-only version, the experience kicks off with an introductory video and then jumps into the game, whereas those brave enough to enter their digits are treated to a phone call (complete with a Warner Brothers pre-amble about a do-not-call list, yuck) as the intro video kicks in. Either way, the end result is the same — the player’s job is to enter words into a text box based on what they see within a looping, changing ink blot image. Figure out the correct terms, earn a reward: a video clip montage of each of the six characters, narrated by Rorschach himself (we assume).

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The next phase of Heroes Evolutions is the iStory

heroes_evolutions_istory

Editor’s note: This article deals with the television show Heroes. If you are not up to date with the most recent episode, and you don’t want to be spoiled by details, you may want to turn back now.

So there I was, watching Heroes on NBC tonight, when I saw a commercial about Rachel. Rachel, as the ad told me, somehow survived the explosion at Pinehearst that marked the end of ‘volume three’ or the series. As curious people often do, I headed over to the Heroes web site at NBC to see what the deal was, hoping for a return to what was formerly known as Heroes 360, which became Heroes Evolutions. I had not had the opportunity to play along with the original experience, and as I’m still a huge Heroes fan, I thought that now would be a good time to jump back into the ARG. While what I found wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, it’s still a pretty cool experience for fans of the show.

Enter the iStory titled The Private. Described on the web site as an “ongoing, interactive story,” players will be given the chance to play along with the choose-your-own-adventure style narrative, as the choices they make will determine the outcome of the story and its characters. This appears to be a game that players can jump into at any time, as all new players start at the first “book” of the series, and progress can be saved in the player profile.

heroes_istory_charactersI had a chance to play through the first story tonight — there have been four published to date — and was impressed by both the narrative and the artwork. Within the story, there was a Morse Code puzzle, and while the choices were few and far between, there’s a great deal of potential here for future chapters of the story. Combine this aspect of the Evolutions experience with a web series called The Recruit, a series of graphic novels and season walkthroughs and it appears to be a robust expansion of the universe laid out within the boundaries of the weekly hour-long action show. Again, it may not be the type of interaction the typical ARG player might expect, but it deserves a second (and third, and fourth…) look from anyone who wants to more about Hiro, Peter and Claire the cheerleader.

Acts of kindness, secret dances keep citizens entertained

akoha_tsdoNot every project we write about here starts with an attractive brunette female in trouble, and in the case of these two campaigns, we don’t even know where the game starts and real life ends. First up, we have Akoha, a company that describes itself as one that believes that “community is not only the lifeblood of our company, but also an ongoing dedication to listening and working with our users to create something special.” Akoma recently made waves at the TED Conference by distributing packs of mission cards in its Inspired Minds series. The cards describe missions tailor-made for kindness, which include giving someone a hero medal, or sharing a book. In the world of community building and social networking, Akoma missions seem like a good way to spread kindness throughout your digital and physical world.

The second project on the list is the Top Secret Dance-Off. We were tipped off about this endeavor through Jane McGonigal’s twitter stream, and many people in the ARG community are participating in the game. The general idea, as described on the web site, is that there is an “underground world of dance quests and dance-offs,” where players can “[d]iscover new dance battlegrounds and develop [their] top secret Choreopowers!” Choreopowers might just be the word of the year, and as such, we encourage those that aren’t afraid to don a mask and complete an dance-based mission to grab your nearest video recording device and get started. Learn all about the rules through a video posted by a very familiar-looking Punky McMonsef, and check out the videos of one of our favorite Cthulhu-loving dancemasters.

You don’t know J.A.C.K.

mindflowAs we continue to play catch-up from the past two weeks of email, we’re intrigued by a new campaign coming from Brazil. According to tipster Alessandra, there’s a new ARG out there just waiting to be had called Follow Your Instinct 2.O: J.A.C.K. We must have missed the original FYI ARG, launched in 2006 to coincide with the release of Brazilian band Mindflow’s Mind Over Body. However, we discovered the band’s Facebook group that told us the first game involved an imaginary serial killer, and based on what Alessandra has told us, this sequel begins as “not even the strongest bars could stop his never ending talent of bringing fear and his unattainable thirst for evil.”

In this game, which can be played at the band’s web site, players take on the role of a detective looking for clues and evidence exposing an ominous-sounding Destructive Device which is supposedly hidden inside Mindflow’s upcoming album of the same name. Now, how this has come to be isn’t clear, but in the game tip, Alessandra states that the “leads could be anywhere: music, websites, booklets, photos, videos.” How very cross-media!

The Flash-based web site is very slick and well-designed, and the music is catchy enough to leave playing in the background as you analyze the clues. For players who need a bit of a head start in getting into the process, there’s an instructional YouTube video set up to help make sense of the game. The most recent blog post from J.A.C.K. was a few days ago, so it appears that the game is in full swing. And even though this game originates in Brazil, there are English and Portuguese versions of the content, so those of us in English-speaking countries can jump right into the mix.

Do you have what it takes to capture J.A.C.K. and prevent the Destructive Device from doing damage? Register at the web site and get started today!

TNT launches “episodic Flash game” for Leverage

leverageWe received a game tip early in January from the fine folks at TNT TV regarding their new original series Leverage. According to Seth Miller, the Senior Manager of Digital Partnerships at the network, “[t]he games take elements and storylines of from the show, add on a layer of a 3D virtual headquarters and features a sweepstakes to help the Leverage team recover some stolen money.” Miller admits that he doesn’t know if this “qualifies as a true ARG” so let’s have our readers be the judges of that! You can access the game at LeverageHQ.com and please, let us know in our comments how you feel about the campaign.

Leverage is a con series in reverse, in which a group of “specialists” take on the corrupt people and companies that plague our society in a sort of modern-day Robin Hood theme. It stars Timothy Hutton and can be seen Tuesdays at 10/9c on TNT, or you can watch full episodes on the TNT website (U.S. visitors only, we assume).

Get Intimate with Intimation

intimation_vidcapIt wasn’t too long ago that discussion at the ARG Netcast included a look at The Way Their World Ended, a game that launched through a Twitter account on Christmas day of 2008. At the beginning, a few of the players that followed Intimation on Twitter were discouraged by the flood of cryptic updates to the account, but once the messages were decoded, the game began dropping references to the Halo universe.

In the past week, there have been more discoveries which lead at least one player to believe that this game’s narrative takes place, “after the events of ILB, since this AI knows about ‘the legendary Melissa.'” ILB, for those who may not know, is short for I Love Bees, the massively popular alternate reality game from 2004 which was a promotion for Halo 2. There have also been references to material discovered through the Iris ARG, which Bungie/Microsoft put together for the release of Halo 3.

So, is it an official tie-in to some sort of Halo product, or a fan creation? We’ve sent off an email to Bungie to see what they have to say, and we’ll update once we get a response. In the meantime, if you’ve been waiting for something to fill the void until Halo Wars hits store shelves, this may be just the thing.

In-game YouTube account
Unfiction Forum thread

Puppetmasters wanted, Geppetto need not apply

job_opportunityOur roving reporters regularly scan the blogs and news sources that make up our digital world, and this morning, staffers Marie Lamb and Michael Andersen found two unique opportunities for aspiring game designers in Los Angeles and New York City. If you are someone who wishes to work in the exciting field of alternate reality game creation, these might be a stepping stone in the right direction!

First up, a craigslist ad from a company called Urban Interactive, who is advertising for an “Alternate Reality Game Writer for iPhone (NYC).” The ad talks about a new product called Urban Sleuth, which is described as, “a platform that allows anyone to create alternate reality games, ranging from simple treasure hunts to full-blown storytelling adventures that incorporate improv actors, local merchants, flash mobs, etc.” It also reveals that a new ARG will be launching in March called The Analog Resistance, and lists the cities of Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago as locales affected by the game. Specifically, they need help writing missions for events taking place in Manhattan, and the ad suggests that owning an iPhone or iPod Touch would be helpful.

The ad triggered a spark of a memory for me, and as I looked back in my cluttered inbox, I did find a game tip from last month that we weren’t able to follow up on which relates to this ad. The email, from Nick Tommarello, further describes The Analog Resistance this way: “It’s the ‘Amazing Race’ meets The Game (with Michael Douglas).” Sounds altogether cool and wonderful!

The second job opportunity isn’t a paying position, but an internship at Studio 33 in Los Angeles, according to this posting at internweb.com. There are quite a few positions available to those who wish to intern at the start-up, including Production Office Management, Web Series production, Alternate Reality Game production, Website Development and Maintenance, Sponsorship & Advertising and Marketing. The hours are flexible, and students may be able to use this for college credit. The start date is listed as “immediately” and the internship runs to the end of April, 2009.

So what are you waiting for — get out there and make a great game!

Game Preview: The Big Plot

thebigplotSo many game tips, so little time! We’ve seen a steady stream of email come in through our contact form this past week, and within the tips comes word of The Big Plot. While it doesn’t appear to have launched yet, we did look through the trailhead web site and a press release for interesting bits, and here’s the summary:

  • The story will be “dispersed in more than seven cities, across several media platforms and among a
    cluster of actors.”
  • The game will utilize many recognizable social networking sites, including Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, BlogSpot, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. Yes, even LinkedIn.
  • The game designer is one Paulo Cirio, and in the release he is describing this “multi-platform, multi-[channel] and cross-media form of storytelling” as “Recombinant Fiction.” Great, just what we need, another label to remember. But I digress.
  • The narrative will be a “romantic spy-story” featuring four key characters: Mark Savin, a Russian pilot; Brian Steiger, a trained psychologist; Vanessa Pinney, a Canadian journalist; and Paul Hampel, the spy and businessman from parts unknown.
  • Keeping track of the game might be easier than having to check up on characters through their various social site profiles — there are many RSS feeds available for subscribers, including character-specific feeds.
  • The content on the site is covered under a Creative Commons license, which allows for the sharing and remixing of content so as long as the end result is attributed to the source material. Sounds like user-generated heaven!

If there’s a clear indication as to when the game will start, I couldn’t find one, so I guess it’s wait and see, Good thing there’s that handy RSS feed to help us keep track of when the game goes live!

This just in – Help Find Jane

findjane_logo

For those of you in a helping mood, head over to Help Find Jane, which appears to be a site dedicated to — wait for it — assisting in the efforts to find Jane Henry. While we don’t know if Jane is an attractive brunette or not (it’s hard to tell from the silhouette), she is a damsel in distress just waiting for an ARGonaut to rush in and save the day. Notice the odd capitalization in the text of the web site, which would have surely tipped us off that this was an alternate reality game and not a real-life search for a missing person had the URL itself not contained the letters arg.

Keep us posted as to whether or not Ms. Henry turns up, okay?

Trailhead, or errant arts and crafts project?

Pencil pinwheel picture 1It’s not everyday we receive a package in the mail that lists its contents as “pencil pinwheel toy” so today must be a very special day indeed. The envelope, which originated in Maitland, Florida and was sent on January 9th, contained exactly what was described on the customs declaration — a home made pencil pinwheel. Inside the folds of the pinwheel were two pieces of paper, which we assume are part of a larger puzzle. And what is this larger puzzle, you may be asking? Well, it turns out that this is part of the Creepy Luny Inn Radio Adventure Show that we first told you about last week. Players at the Unfiction forums seem to be the target for the mailings, as members MrToasty, Sheep and ifihadahifi all received similar packages.

The game continues to move along, with a new countdown being discovered earlier today. Seems like as good a time as any to jump right in and book your stay at the Inn!

Pencil pinwheel picture 2 Pencil pinwheel picture 3 Pencil pinwheel picture 4

ARGNet: Retooled, Relaunched, and Re-diculously Fabulous!

The many faces of ARGNetChange. It’ll do you good, or so says Sheryl Crow, and who are we to argue with Sheryl Crow? After a small statement about a year ago regarding the backend of the argn.com web site comes the all new, shiny and sleek 2009 version of the web site. This year’s model — and no, we’re not going to be updating the look every year, mmmkay? — comes with a powerful WordPress 2.7 engine under the hood, some fancy new Web 2.0 AJAX-y image handling, and a much needed management system for the What’s Hot list in the sidebar. Other enhancements include a more aesthetically-pleasing comment system (that’s for you), a quicker load time (again, for you) and a comment spam system that doesn’t make us want to gouge our eyes out with rusty scissors (for us, definitely for us).

As the transition went down earlier today, I had the feeling that things would go horribly, horribly awry. Much to my chagrin, nay, AMAZEMENT, everything has seemingly gone off without a hitch. That is not to say we have overlooked nothing, so if you find an error or a cause for concern, send us a note via our contact form.

The site redesign could not have happened without the full cooperation of the ARGNet staff — you can read more about them by clicking on their names in the sidebar over -> there. I would also like to extend a special thanks to drizjr and Alex Farnsworth who answered the call for volunteers and dedicated their time over the last few weeks to getting posts edited and ready for the relaunch. Between the staffers and the two volunteers, a whopping 1,555 tags were applied to 695 posts in 16 categories, which is no small feat in itself.

We hope you like the new design, and hope you continue to visit for the latest news, rumors and interviews related to alternate reality gaming, cross-media entertainment and experience design!

Welcome to the new recruits!

welcome.jpgJust before the holidays, we asked our readers to come forward and join our staff of volunteers, and wouldn’t you know it, some of you did just that. Now that the craziness of the holiday season is over and we are firmly planted in 2009, we’d like to make things official by welcoming our new staffers!

John Fogg joined the ranks of the ARGonauts in 2002 when he followed along with Push, Nevada, the short-lived television series with an extended reality and a one million dollar prize. According to his staff bio, he spends a lot of free time researching cross-platform narratives and stories that play out in a non-traditional ways, and so far he has written about Natalie Ross and Breathe, the new project by Expanding Universe.

Tim Hill is a filmmaker and storyteller from the sunny shores of Australia, earning him the distinction of being our sole international staffer in a while. Tim is the creator of Jack Kain an interactive film that takes place on the Internet. He is the only person on staff that I know of who “debat(es) the merits of fluoridated water.” Tim has written a lovely article on This is My Milwaukee, an experience that has created a great deal of buzz within the ARG community and beyond.

Robbie Smith describes himself as, “a flash-developer by day and comic nerd by night.” He got involved with the Dark Knight ARG and hasn’t looked back since. Robbie wrote a recent article on Transition Village and a brilliant feature called The Family That Games Together in which he details how he managed to get his mother involved with Project Abraham. We imagine Robbie might not be celebrating the recent NCAA football title win by the Florida Gators, seeing as how he is a rabid fan of the state rival Seminoles of Florida State.

Once again, we welcome our new writers to the fold, and know that their contributions will mean even more news about ARGs, cross-media experiences, extended realities and anything else we might dig up, tune into or have sent to us in the mail.

The Legacy of Julian Teng

julianteng.jpgWe received a game tip in the email inbox a few days ago about The Legacy of Julian Teng which contains what we are being told is a unique clue to the launch of the game. According to the email, the alternate reality game ties in with the World of Warcraft universe but will be played out at various Internet sites, including the GamerDNA.com forums.

For those that are already playing, or are interested in playing, here is our exclusive clue:

4.jpg

There is a further opportunity to win another clue by heading over to http://randomeis.gamerdna.com/images/argnet where registered members of gamerDNA can “vote up the image.” By voting up the image, our community may receive another, “very exclusive clue.”

The email goes on to talk about the story behind The Legacy of Julain Teng: “Brian Morgan and his friends started playing World of Warcraft to stay in touch last summer, but Brian’s research into the mysterious Tunguska event and the life of Julian Teng has caused them to grow further apart than they could have imagined. The last time anyone saw Brian Morgan he was playing a Tauren called Tunguska on Korialstrasz in World of Warcraft in mid-November. Nobody has heard from him since. ” Sounds juicy!

You can get involved by heading to the character’s group website and there has been a separate area created for puzzle solving and speculating. There’s a wiki set up at Wikibruce and a thread at the Unfiction forums to catch you up to speed.

Help! We need somebody(s)!

help.jpgHoly smokes, it’s almost 2009! It’s been another great year for us here at ARGNet and I owe it all to the wonderful volunteers that research, write, edit and publish articles for this site. Without them, ARGNet would be a tumbleweed blowing in the breeze, so my hat is off to all of those that contribute here.

Of course, we’re always looking for writers and contributors to this site, and we haven’t made an open call for writers in quite a while, so here is a repost from February of 2007:

If you are someone who is dependable, honest, and willing to write an article for ARGNet once a month, we’re looking for you. The submission guidelines are as follows:

1. Write a 100-150 word blurb-style article on any currently running game. For recent examples, see ARGNet Owner/Editor to appear on Irish talk radio morning show and Update: Ghosts of a Chance Live Event.

2. Write a 400-500 word feature article about any of these topics: 1) a game, current or historical; 2) an interesting story or aspect of the ARG community; 3) a topic of interest to the ARGNet readership; 4) being a puppetmaster or behind-the-scenes game creator.

Submissions need to be sent in to [email protected] by 11:59 pm (CST, GMT -6) by this Friday, December 19th, 2008. Naturally, spelling and grammar count, and a submission does not guarantee an invite to join the ARGNet staff.

We’re also interested in identifying key members of the community who would be willing and able to act as researchers and stringers for currently running ARGs. If you’re an avid player and have time to provide ARGNet staff members with highlight reels of games, but not enough time to dedicate to writing entire articles, we still want you! Send an email to [email protected] and we’ll add you to our growing list of community researchers.

One final bit of volunteer goodness: We will be moving ARGNet from Movable Type to a WordPress installation by Q1 2009 and require beta testers for the new site. These testers would be invited to tag articles and assign proper categories for articles that already exist, as well as adjusting HTML code for images. Some technical knowledge is a bonus, but the process is fairly easy once we get you started. If you’d be interested in this endeavor, you can send your name to the [email protected] email address as well.

ARGNet Owner/Editor to appear on Irish talk radio morning show

newstalk_argnet.jpgSo, it turns out that the folks in the Emerald Isle are itching for news on alternate reality gaming. After RTÉ news ran a nice feature about Traces of Hope earlier in the month (which featured a brief appearance by yours truly), the newstalk radio station has called and arranged for a chat about ARGs on October 31st at 10:45 am local time (and yes, as I write this, that’s only a few hours away, at 6:45 am ET).

I am pleased to be a part of the on-air discussion, and hope that a few of our readers will be able to tune in, either on the radio or via the live Internet audio stream.

Editor’s note 10-31-08: Leave it to me to leave out the time zone. Added, but the interview has already happened. Watch this site for a downloadable mp3 version.)

Game Launch: Mare Vitreum (Sea of Glass)

Sea of Glass swagOn a very busy day for us here at the ARGNet offices, the last of our day’s articles deals with a beautiful piece of etched glass sent to us through the post. With the words “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire” written into the glass block, and with nondescript symbols etched along the bottom, we had a feeling that there was a mystery to be solved here. Even as we talked about it during tonight’s ARG Netcast recording, I didn’t have a hot clue as to what to do with this puzzling transparent square slab. And then, thanks comments from Geoff May and redct in the ARG Netcast Ustream channel, we had a destination — marevitreum.com.

You see, those symbols along the bottom which resemble the Klingon alphabet were only part of the message. Luckily for us, there were a few other recipients of the same gift, except at least one (thatsplenty at Flickr) had different etchings at the bottom. Simply line up the two and the web site URL magically appears.

The web site includes a mystery of its own, with blurry paragraphs that clear up as you mouse over them. The thing is, the blurry paragraphs have red letters strewn within the text, and the clear version do not. Sean C. Stacey and I actually went through and solved the puzzle during the netcast recording, getting the message “Oct thirty first new york city” which points, quite obviously, to Halloween in NYC. Besides that, other mouse overs reveal text which seems rather religious in tone — appropriate as the ‘sea of glass’ quote comes from Revelations 15:2.

So, anyone up for a bit of fun on All Hallow’s Eve in the Big Apple? If you’re in the area, stay tuned for developments of this new mystery.

Update: I am Blind sends us shades, mystery in a box

I Am Blind swagSo, remember that strange call we got on the ARGNet voicemail three weeks ago? You know, the one we couldn’t figure out at first? Well, it’s a good thing we figured it out, because it turns out to be a game for the newly-released film Blindness, and after we sent in our snail mail address, we’re happy to have a nifty little bit of game swag in our hands.

Included in the package was two pairs of the cheapest sunglasses we’ve ever seen — no frames, even! — along with a card with “i am blind’ and “IAMBL” written in Braille. There was even a self-addressed stamped envelope for a P.O. Box in Toluca Lake, which is interesting only for the fact that it is within walking distance of Universal Studios. One final note about the package is the white-out applied to the Statue of Liberty stamps that adorn the front of the envelope — right across the eyes. Our friends at Despoiler received a package as well, and have a full compliment of photos of their swag pack.

Discussion about the game continues at the Unfiction forums and we will be talking about the current state of the game tonight on the ARG Netcast weekly recording.

Voices in the Static

Blue static signalAbout a month ago, a series of strange emails originating from voicesinthestatic.com made their rounds across the Internet. When arriving at the site, titled ‘stare into us’, players are greeted by a wall of static, akin to what one would see on a television without rabbit ears or cable, and the sound of white noise interlaced with strange music. A quick view of the source code reveals that the owners of the site are “the taste of your fear the taste of fear like metal” and gives players three more parts of the site to check out.

So far, players have enjoyed the campaign, which updates regularly. The story revolves around three main characters, ‘spirits’ who are communicating from beyond the grave: Echo, who initiated contact with the players through email and died in a motorcycle accident; Margaret, a victim of an illness that resulted in ‘throat struggle’ that likes to communicated in Morse Code; Mona, a spirit familiar with hexadecimal code that may or may not have been held captive at a hospital in Pennsylvania. There are multiple emails from which characters write back to players, a phone number that players can call to get messages from Echo, and multiple Craigslist postings related to the game.

As we did, you can catch up on the game at the fabulous Voices in the Static Despoiler Wiki or by visiting the Unfiction forum section for the game (where we found the excellent and helpful reference thread by drizjr).

The 14th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition

IFComp LogoTake lamp. Open mailbox. Get ye flask. Ah, the simple pleasure of the text adventure game. For those out there old enough to remember and enjoy such classics as Zork and the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Infocom game, we have a treat for you. IFComp 2008, otherwise known as the 14th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition is in full swing, and you have the chance to vote for the winner.

According to the web site, the IFComp is “a chance to enjoy some of the best short adventure games available anywhere.” The games are available as a ZIP download and voting takes place on the site and through email. The competition opened up a few days ago, but judging lasts about six weeks, so there’s still plenty of time to get acquainted with this year’s entries.

Many people regard text adventure games as one of the inspirations for the alternate reality gaming genre, so we imagine many of you will appreciate these imaginative, puzzling narratives. I’m going to start with Nerd Quest by RagtimeNerd because I’ve always wanted to know how to free myself if trapped in a server room. Enjoy!

Game Launch: Love Resurrected

Image from love-resurrected.comAs far as web sites go, Love Resurrected isn’t the most flashy, nor is it the most intriguing. But there’s something about a site that asks for your phone number that grabs our attention, and coupled with the fact that this apparent alternate reality game was brought to our attention by a very reputable and trustworthy source, we’ll bite. Earlier today, Steve Peters (ARGNet’s original owner, currently with 42 Entertainment) posted the link to the web site to his Twitter micro-blog stream, and quickly, members of the ARG community have found a wealth of information.

So far, a number of phone numbers, social networking profiles, email addresses and even personal identification numbers have been discovered. Luckily for you, Geoff May of wikibruce.com has set up a wiki for the emerging mystery, and there’s a still-short (four pages) thread at the Unfiction forums where the latest news is breaking.

What we know so far is that after inputting your phone number, the site redirects to another page which includes a number of links and pieces of information. We also have word that a crew of dedicated gamers are on the way to an apparent dead drop which may glean even more important details about the game, so stay tuned as we get word back from that effort.

Six years, 648 entries later, we still like ARGs

Birthday cakeWhew! Just before the stroke of midnight, I’m ecstatic to say happy birthday to us! Yes, it’s been six years (give or take a few days) since this web site went live, and while the first article was the infamous sixteen word epic Forums Closed, it was really the second post on October 1, 2002 that kicked off what ARGNet (then ARGN) was to become.

Thanks to all of our wonderful staff members, our dedicated volunteers, and our network partners who continue to lend their hearts and minds to this site, and extra special thanks to the readers who visit for the latest info on the best damn game genre on the planet. We’re happy to keep on keepin’ on. To another year, huzzah!

(Oh, and lest we forget, this is also the five year anniversary of the wildly popular alternate reality game Metacortechs. Read all about it at the Unfiction forums archive. Stol!)

PICNIC 08 is days away

Picnic 08 LogoMy oh my, how the time flies. We are on the edge of our seats as PICNIC 08 fast approaches, now only three days away. As we have told you before, those of you lucky enough to be in the Amsterdam area with a few days to kill can still register for this cross-media conference at a discount rate. We are fortunate to have received an invite for the partner/speaker breakfast, and are fairly confident that Daniël van Gool will be on scene to meet and greet with industry leaders, visionaries and those that will shape the future.

We’ll be bringing you coverage of the event in the next few days, so keep it tuned right here for the latest news on PICNIC 08!

Game Launch: I Am Blind

I Am Blind logoWe got a weird call late last week that, at first, I couldn’t figure out. After asking the staff to help decipher, they discovered that the breathy, computer-generated voice was telling us us that we were “alone in the darkness” and instructing us to send our mailing address to [email protected]

Moments ago, we sent our snail mail addy to that email, so we’ll see what happens. While you wait, why not head over to iamblind.org and mouse over the center image, where multiple voices seem to be filling in the blank in the statement, “The last thing I want to see is _____.”

* * *

Aha, a quick update! That email we sent just a few minutes ago bounced back. We tried with two other addresses, fearing that Gmail was the problem, but alas, even an email from my ISP-hosted address came back with an error. Guess we won’t be getting a Christmas card from the I Am Blind folks. Aw, shucks.

Okay, we get it! Fringe has an ARG!

Image from the Fringe TV show

The much ballyhooed J.J. Abrams television series Fringe kicked off earlier this week, and with it came an update to a web site connected to the show, which in turn prompted quite a few of you to send in game tips about the apparent alternate reality game. We’ve heard you loud and clear, which may please The Powers That Be behind the game, since a viral campaign is only as good as the word of mouth advertising it generates. So, what’s the deal with this Massive Dynamic corporation anyway? And what does it have to do with FBI agents, six-fingered hand prints and something called The Pattern?

Honestly, there’s no clear answer to the variety of connections between the web site, which is assumed to be the trailhead into the game, and the broadcast of the pilot episode of the hotly anticipated TV show. Perhaps it’s best to look at a chronology of events before jumping into what might just be a blockbuster ARG.

On June 17, Jenna Wortham at the utterly fantastic Underwire blog at wired.com revealed that a rough cut of the show’s pilot had made its way onto the BitTorrent file sharing network. In the show, it’s obvious that Massive Dynamic will be a focus of the story.

Later in the month of June, a puzzle of sorts showed up at the official show web site, as documented by deletia at the Unfiction forums. Combined with subtle-but-mysterious messages in the show’s trailers, and given that other Abrams productions (such as Lost and Cloverfield) have used the Internet as a hype promotion mechanism in the past, ARG players felt that familiar twinge of curiosity.

In July, animated advertisements started showing up on television, and the Massive Dynamic web site went live with an ‘under contruction’ page featuring the MD logo and the message: “Updating Our Site. Updating Your Life.”

On August 4, a comic was handed out at ComicCon that introduced “The Pattern, which was also a big part of the leaked pilot. Attendees of the conference were also invited to “find the pattern’, a scavenger hunt that began at the web site explortheimpossibilities.com (which had been discovered in July and now redirects to Hadley Media) and was documented by PostLarval at the Unfiction forums.

This takes us to September 9, when the series premiered in North America. We have details on what’s happened since then after the jump, and here’s a spoiler: there’s an employee login to be cracked.

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We’re helping to create the future at PICNIC ’08

PICNIC 08 LogoBack in 2006, a cross-media festival in Amsterdam called PICNIC ’06 caught the eye of our friend and cohort Sean C. Stacey. Billing itself as the “first ever annual event for people interested and involved in cross media content and technology in Europe, North America and Asia,” speakers included John de Mol, Philip Rosedale and Craig Newmark. It also included a presentation by the ARG IGDA SIG, who talked about their first published white paper. The conference was a smashing success, and plans were made for the following year’s festival.

In 2007, PICNIC ’07 expanded on the format of the previous year, incorporating nightly entertainment, partner events and a Green Challenge with their speaker presentations. Sir Richard Branson got involved with the Green Challenge, and visionaries such as Cory Doctorow, Walt Mossberg and Dennis Crowley delivered speeches and participated in discussion panels. Our man on the scene, Daniel van Gool, was especially impressed by a trio of speakers — Eduardo Dias, David Polinchock and Jeroen Mol, who collaborated on a presentation called “Augmented Reality for Advertisers.”

This brings us to 2008, and another installment of the popular cross-media festival. Things kick off on September 24th, and once again ARGNet is a proud media sponsor of the event. This year’s conference will feature a wide range of speakers which include Jyri EngEström, a co-founder of social networking site Jaiku, Martin de Ronde of the Onebiggame charity, and Kara Swisher from AllThingsD.com, a tech and media web site. There are also special events planned for each day of the festival, such as book releases and breakfast sessions with speakers, and PICNIC Labs, which are “practical workshops that challenge you to re-imagine your business, develop new products and services, refine ideas and formats and come up with creative business concepts.” Daniel van Gool will once again attend the conference for ARGNet, and we’re looking forward to more of his stellar reporting and analysis.

You too can attend PICNIC ’08, and because you are such wonderful, loyal readers of this little news site, you get a discount! So, if you plan on being in the Westergasfabriek area of Amsterdam and want to save a few bucks on attendance costs, click the link below for details on how to register and to find out how to apply the discount code.

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Lonelygirl15 sequel proves that resistance isn’t futile after all

LG15: Resistance logo

“The fountain of youth is real. It’s in the blood of innocent girls scattered across the world. They’re hunted, murdered, sucked dry of their precious lifesblood. We are The Resistance. We fight to protect and save these girls.” (from LG15: The Resistance)

When we first met Bree, the original lonely girl of YouTube fame, it was clear that there was more to the seemingly innocent girl than met the eye. After all, after only a handful of webisodes, clues tucked into them revealed Bree’s affinity for the occult, and exposed the darker reality hidden behind Bree’s seraphic surface. Now, two years later, the series continues down a path that is more Hannibal Lecter than High School Musical.

Yesterday afternoon, we received word that EQAL, the company behind LG15 and Kate Modern, is preparing a sequel to begin in September. For ARG fans, we have exclusive news that there is, indeed, an alternate reality game – now playing and full of surprises – preceding the launch of the debut video.

According to an inside source close to the project, the game includes assets that go beyond the online videos which have become a signature of the brand. In the mix are crowleycollection.com, lifesbloodlabs.com and verduspharma.com/press/, the latter of which outlines a legal battle between a pharmaceutical company and an experimental R&D sub-division gone rogue. Of the three, the one we connected with the LG15 mythology immediately was the Crowley Collection site, as it was the picture of occultist Aleister Crowley which began the speculation about the truth behind Bree.

As a bonus for our readers, we can reveal that entering the code 1103 at the Crowley site will yield information important to the game. This code was interlaced in fliers handed out at ComicCon and at various comic book stores, and has only been delivered to a handful of LG15 fans — we’re the first news site to reveal this code.

For those interested in following along until the new video series kicks off, there are a number of threads on the Lonelygirl15 forums, such as this thread, discussing how to get into crowleycollection.com, and this thread, which documents many of the developments of the last few weeks.

Lonelygirl15 producer to launch Scary City this week

Scary City logoAs lonelygirl15 proved, the new age of storytelling is upon us, and according to a recent article, a web-based endeavor by one of its key production staff is going to be a very big deal. Earlier last week, Unfiction forums member jlr1001 posted a link to an article at ThugLifeArmy about Scary City, which will include two separate but interrelated editions of the series running in the US and Japan. The international effort doesn’t stop there, as there may be possible expansion into Korea, Israel, the UK, France, and Thailand.

The article points out the extravagant cost of the Scary City web site, which was designed by IMJ at a reported cost of $1.4 million, which may or may not be part of the overal project budget of $5.2 million. Another press release reveals details about casting, as videos will be released on August 26th describing he process of getting a part on the show.

Oh, and as for any alternate reality gaming elements, Yumiko Aoyagi (formerly the executive producer for lonelygirl15) reveals that the web site will “include interactive online Alternative Reality Games,” according to the ThugLifeArmy article. Wait… games with an S? That sounds intriguing, especially with the international elements involved — it could mean that a Japanese ARG could run concurrently with an English ARG, with intertwining plots or characters. As things start to kick off in two short days, we’ll keep our eyes and ears on Scary City.

UPDATE: There’s gold in them thar’ real world locations

clue found under ultraviolet lightWhile it’s not quite a return to the gold rush days of yore, the alternate reality game for Velvet Assassin, dubbed Violette’s Dream by the players, involves much more than just fake Nazi gold bars. In fact, much to the delight of Dee Cook (addlepated) and Russel_k at the Unfiction forums, there are authentic gold bars ready to be found in the real world! According to a press release sent to us, while these gold bars are the first to be discovered, “[m]ore caches of gold are still being hunted down.”

The ARG, a campaign for the upcoming XBOX 360/PC game Velvet Assassin, has been entertaining players for three months thus far, and continues to play out at trailhead/meta site violettesdream.com. The premise of both the ARG and the video game is unique in that it is inspired by real-life British spy Violette Szabo. The video game launches in fall 2008, and we expect the ARG to continue past the release of the game, as

Along with the press release came some photos of the find in Fredricksburg, Texas, which you can see after the jump.

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Mailbox: Shadowbox Inn

Shadowbox Inn swag

In the mail today was a plain brown box, light in weight but heavy in mystery. Inside was a postcard featuring the URL shadowboxinn.googlepages.com on one side, and the numbers ‘808080808’ on the back. Along for the ride was a pool ball, number 11, which looks fairly ordinary.

Shadowbox Inn post card

A quick Google search turns up this thread on the Unfiction forums, which started just over a month ago. From what we can glean from the thread, there have been a number of web-based discoveries, including a MySpace page, and a countdown on the front page, set to expire in just under three days. So, given the timely nature of the countdown — I guess Steve Peters was right, countdowns are very useful tools — we expect things to heat up in this campaign sooner than later.

Update: Upon closer inspection of the box, and some diligent investigative journalism (read: Google search), we have found two more connections to shadows. The first comes from the signature the sender provided when sending the package — a must for Canada Customs when sending packages from the U.S. — which looks to be Lamont Cranston. Lamont Cranston happens to be one of the alter-egos of The Shadow, the popular fictional vigilante that has appeared in radio, television and film dramas since 1930. The second clue of shadowy importance is the return address, which matches that of the Shadowbox Cabaret. We’re unsure if these specific references will be important in the scheme of the game play, or if they are simply meant as atmospheric affirmations of the game’s name, but we thought they were noteworthy to mention.

The quick and dirty: New ARGs pop up, like, everywhere!

Truckload of ARGsDon’t mind us — we’re just catching up on the latest round of alternate reality game launches, via the ARGNet tipline/inbox/mailbox. Here is what we know of, in no particular order:

(1) Eklipse Global: We first heard about this game through the LiveJournal blog of staffer Geoff May, and were reminded again of its existence when we picked up our post-ARGFest mail. After sitting at the post office since the 18th of July, the USPS Priority Mail envelope was opened to reveal a letter, and a mysterious message: IF YOU HEAR THE HUM IS TOO LATE!!

hearhum.jpg

The letter notified “ARGN” that the decision committee did not select our marketing campaign bid as the winner. We’d be crushed, had we actually submitted a bid, but since we didn’t, um, yay? Later in the letter from Reinhart, the president of Eklipse Global, he assures us that their decision is not a reflection on our expertise or professionalism, which is a relief, because personally, I’d never work for a company run by a one-name person — and yes, that includes Madonna Inc.

This is only the start of the crazy amount of new ARGs that have appeared out of the chaotic fiction ether in the past few weeks — head on over the jump for the rest of the list.

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UPDATE: Dharma Wants You, but not quite yet

Dharma Wants You logoAs soon as the Octagon Global Recruiting ad flashed across the television screen during the final commercial break of the season four finale of Lost, fans were on their computers, headed towards the advertised web site. It wasn’t more than a few moments before the world figured out that something big was bound to happen at Comic-Con 2008, which is happening right now in San Diego. True to their word, the Dharma Initiative is actively recruiting new members for its global corporation, and quite a few lucky attendees have had the chance to take the test to become part of the Dharma team. For those unable to attend, a sister web site is all we get for now, but rumors swirl that claim that the new Lost ARG is scheduled to make a move to the mainstream starting tomorrow.

The events at Comic-Con were disclosed through an email sent out to those who submitted their emails to the Octagon Global Recruiting (OGR) web site, which also appears at the site itself. One thing to note here — if you view the source of the web page version, an interesting message from someone calling themselves RuckusGuy shows up — we won’t spoil it for you, but it involves Bluetooth, which we’ll get to later.

Reports about the events in San Diego are still coming in, but according to the fine folks at Lostpedia, the team from Dharma have Australian accents and are vehement as to their purpose at the Con — a member of the Lostpedia forums claims to have overheard one of the recruiters saying, “Yes. We’re an actual REAL organization currently trying to recruit new members,” to a curious onlooker. The test itself takes about five minutes, and involves a few oddball questions as well as some interesting images shown on audio/visual equipment. To make sure everyone at the Con was aware of the campaign, Dharma ‘sponsored’ Saturday’s panel discussion at which executive producers Cartlon Cuse and Damon Lindelof were joined by actor Matthew Fox to answer questions about the hit television series. However, the sponsorship was quickly pulled when a test applicant — most likely a paid actor — interrupted the discussion to show a new video featuring Dr. Marvin Candle, aka

Our own Celina Beach has been on the scene at Comic-Con all weekend, and we expect her reports to start trickling in sometime today or tomorrow. Hopefully, she has a chance today to take the Dharma test — she’s on a waiting list — and can tell us about her experiences. That Bluetooth reference we hinted at earlier? Well, there’s a video floating around showing what happened when someone enabled their device within proximity of the Dharma area. As for the next stage of the game, we’re optimistic about new content tomorrow, so watch those web sites!

ARGNet is SciFi’s Site of the Week!

SciFi logoAs television stations go, we’re big fans of Sci Fi, and not just because they named us the Site of the Week earlier today. With original programming like Battlestar Galactica (the best show on television), the 4400 (which had an ARG of it’s own) and the Stargate series, it’s hard not to be a fan of the network.

Thanks to Ken Newquist at Sci Fi for recognizing our efforts here at ARGNet, and as we told him in an email a few minutes ago, it comes at a great time for us, as we have a series of articles coming this week on ARGFest-o-Con 2008, which officially wrapped upon Sunday this past weekend. Look for the first in the series to hit the site later today, with the rest coming in the next few days!

UPDATE: Prototype 161 Launches July 12

prototype161.jpgFor those that remember the postcard we received a few days ago with the enigmatic “Wish You Were Here” message, we can now point you towards something more than just a vague location in New York City. A comment was left for that article by prototype161, stating, “Infringement will not be tolerated. Your sticker has been removed.” This led us to look at prototype161.com, which is the home of prototype161 investigations. There’s a client section which offers solutions when “problems cannot be solved by ordinary methods,” and a recruitment section that reveals details about a live event in New York on July 12th.

Two days ago, a letter was received, addressed to me, telling me that I have been selected as a prospective agent of prototype161. According to the letter, I will play a vital role in the development of a new “perscrutative method” — yes, I had to look up perscrutative, and it means thorough search — in the evening of July 12th. I hope that my vital role can be played as I sit at home, because I won’t be in New York City on the 12th. The letter encourages me to assemble a team of not more than eight people, and notes that if I am unable to locate a sufficient number of friends, some will be provided for me. What are you saying, mysterious recruiter, I can’t find my own friends?! Just kidding.

The only potential puzzle I’ve found so far is on the letter itself — the footer contains the text prototype161 form LMTH.”EUR”, with the E in EUR red in color. Our friend Sean C. Stacey at Despoiler received a postcard and a letter as well, and there is an ongoing thread at the Unfiction forums for developments thus far.

If you are in the New York area and wish to represent ARGNet at the recruitment event, drop us a comment or a voicemail and we’ll get in touch. Anyone attending the event that is able to take pictures or video, please send them our way, with our thanks and appreciation!

Cannes Lions Award for 42 Entertainment

42Cannes.jpg42 Entertainment has won yet another distinguished honor, and this time, it’s a grand prize. On Thursday, June 19, the company won the Grand Prix Cyber Lions award at the Cannes Lions 2008 festival in the Viral Advertising/Viral Marketing category for their alternate reality game. The Cannes Lions awards are widely considered the most prestigious of all advertising awards, so this is definitely a feather in the cap for the company responsible for this enthralling collaboration with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame. Congratulations to the crew, which includes Steve Peters, the previous owner of this very web site.

In picture: Susan Bonds, Producer/CEO, and Alex Lieu, Creative Director/CCO, 42 Entertainment

Mailbox: From zombies to a mystery pole

lostzombies.JPGIt’s turning out to be quite the summer for alternate reality games, or so the relentless parade of packages, letters and postcards to come through the ARGNet snail mail box seems to indicate. First up, from last week, is a lovely package from Lost Zombies, a new post-apocalyptic venture billing itself as “a community generated zombie documentary.” Inside the package was a letter, a paperback copy of The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks, and a retail DVD copy of 28 Days Later, the superb film by Danny Boyle. According to the letter (full text available after the jump), these materials “provide valuable insight into zombie behavior and its many forms,” and should help increase our chances of survival. Sweet!

Also in the mail — just today, in fact — was a postcard. Apparently, we’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year, because the sender wishes we were there, ‘there’ being New York City. And, beyond that, we have no idea why this postcard was sent to us. We do know that our friends at Despoiler received a similar postcard, and surmise that the image on the front is of a location in Times Square, NYC. They’ve urged their legion of readers to go outdoors and find the pole marked with the arrow, and we urge the same of our loyal viewers, if only to satisfy our curiosity as to the mystery of the blue pole.

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Come to the White Island, stay for the all night dancing!

ibiza_newspaper_01.jpgSomething is happening in Ibiza… or so says the press release for The White Island, which filtered into the ARGNet tipline last week. The new alternate reality game began on June 1st, and involves dance music and late night parties across Europe. There are some interesting names connected to the project as well — Pete Tong, known best for his work on BBC Radio 1 and for being the subject of the mockumentary “It’s all gone Pete Tong“, and Charles Kriel, a DJ who previously worked on the Fallen ARG and now heads up Black Swan Media. If these names aren’t enough to get you clubbers interested, what about the cool swag we received earlier today? There’s video and more pictures after the break, so put down the glow sticks and click on through!

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OMG Hax0rz!!!

huh.jpgImagine my surprise today, after a nice (albeit short) family vacation, to get back into the swing of things in the alternate reality gaming universe, only to find out that… we’ve been hacked? Well, that is what happened, according to a Digg entry we were, um conveniently linked to via a game tip. And what goes on Digg must be truth, of course.

Actually, the only truth is the fact that it’s April 1st. In the past, we’ve done our share of April Fool’s Day pranking. Heck, we’ve enjoyed the various Unfiction mock-ups we’ve been a part of, and as far as comedy goes, who can forget my stellar writing and Sean C. Stacey’s award-winning artwork for No Strings Attached? So, we think we know funny, and today’s idle report of an hackjob-that-wasn’t by a semi-prepared puppetmaster wannabe suave individual wasn’t really that funny. Maybe it’s the sour grapes talking, but being part of the joke without being in on the joke seems… lame.

We’ve decided not to link to anything related to this sham — Google is your friend — but rest assured, we weren’t hacked, and there were no well-timed AdSense advertisements on the site today. As for the person behind the Digg post and the Unforums thread… thumbs up for the awesome trailhead!

Thanks to Jackie Kerr for her contributions to this article.

Harvey Dent campaign swag!

dent_03.jpgIt wasn’t long after the latest stage in the Dark Knight alternate reality game went live that we began noticing reports of cool swag delivery — staff writer Michelle Senderhauf got one in the mail, as did our associate editor, Marie Lamb, and a friend of the site, Brian Enigma. I received the ARGNet package a few days ago, and in the package was a T-shirt and a folder which contained postcards, bumper stickers, buttons and a letter. It’s always a treat to receive treats from game developers, so I thank those out there who are responsible for sending the package up to Canadia. So, um… does this mean that the campaign will be heading above the 49th parallel sometime soon? Inquiring canucks want to know!

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I Was Blind… so they sent me broken headphones?

headphones_01.jpgA note from FedEx on Monday alerted me to a delivery attempt during a time when I wasn’t available to receive packages. After some careful thinking, I figured that the package was one of the Harvey Dent press packages that some others have been receiving. The next day, as I arrived home, I saw not one but two packages waiting to be opened. It was like my birthday, except without all of the feeling old and stuff. And while one of the packages was, indeed, a Harvey Dent swag explosion (more on that tomorrow), it was the other that has me scratching my head. For you see, unlike the tidy folder that held the Dark Knight promo material, the other package contained… broken headphones. Broken headphones wrapped in a single sheet from Monday’s “The Guardian”.

For a few more pictures, and the rest of the details, read on. Maybe you can help us figure out this mystery!

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World Without Oil wins big at SXSW

2008_sxsw_web_awards.jpgYes, that’s right — World Without Oil, the socially conscious alternate reality game that kicked off in April 2007, has won the Activism award at this year’s SXSW Web Awards!

Although word is just now coming in, and there’s no official note on the SXSW web site, we’re happy to be able to congratulate the team, including our very own Marie Lamb and Michelle Senderhauf!

Eldritch Errors: No news is bad news?

ee_implode.jpgWell, there’s not much joy in the land of Eldritch Errors this week, as players and curious onlookers are stuck without an update or an explanation as to why the game has stalled. We reported earlier this week on this unfortunate turn of events for the GMD Studios production. We contacted GMD Studios for comment and were promised a statement from The Powers That Be but none has been forthcoming. So, without any indication as to the whys and hows of the current state of affairs, I’m ready to call this stalled.

In response to comments by NordicNinja, Biff and Dante, I suggest that players should wait for another few days to see if the public outcry for information results in a statement (in-game or otherwise) from the puppetmasters. Barring that, there is a slew of other games in progress — some are just starting this week — in which to get involved. As usual, the Unfiction forum is a great place to get the latest word on new, emerging alternate reality games, as is its sister site Despoiler. We’ll keep you updated if and when news develops.

Breaking News – Slowdown of Eldritch Errors

ee_implode.jpgCan this nightmare be true? Has Eldritch Errors fallen, unable to get up? According to a new section of the player-run Sentry Outpost in-game web site, the game has stalled. As well, we received a tip from a player that stated, “Eldritch Errors seems to be in the midst of imploding. Brian Clark has disappeared completely as far as we, the players, can tell.”

If this is indeed the case, we feel your pain, faithful readers, and are doing our best to get to the bottom of things. Look for an update later in the day tomorrow, as we have been told that official word from GMD Studios, the team running the game, will be coming soon.

Help Us Find the Properly Gifted Fellows

van_velsenmeer.jpgAh, trailheads. They come, they go, some are memorable, and some are forgettable. And some come in pretty wooden boxes. No, I’m not reminiscing about the kick-off to the original Sammeeeees game, I’m taking about a brand new game that seems to be originating from Germany. On Friday, I was pleasantly surprised to find a parcel card in my post office box — I wasn’t expecting a package, but I am always a bit excited to find one waiting for me. Handing the card to the clerk, she exchanged it for a plain brown padded envelope.

Nothing too strange here — the postmark reads “Briefzentrum 60” — so I was eager to peek inside. Once I got out of the cold air and into the warmth of my vehicle, I tore open the end of the envelope, to find a small, flat wooden box inside.

wood_01.jpg  wood_02.jpg

Sliding open the top of the box revealed two pieces of paper. On one, a message, seemingly written on a typewriter: “To execute these commandments you’ll have to find the properly gifted fellows.” The other, a punch card, was riddled with rectangular holes, and had “THE FINAL MILL INC. SERIES AAB” written in ink on the back. We have pictures and more information about the campaign after the jump, for those ready to travel further down the rabbithole.

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Extra, extra! ARGNet iEdition has arrived!

iphone.jpgHey, we like to think that we’re pretty tech-savvy individuals here at ARGNet, with at least one of us owning one of those sorta-new-fangled iPod Touch device thingies. Well, on a whim this weekend, I decided to adapt a WordPress plugin called iWPhone into our Movable Type installation, which you can see at iphone.argn.com. Heck, that interface might be the preferred view for people who don’t use Apple devices!

We are going to be moving things over to WordPress in 2008, but are having CSS issues, so it’s still a work in progress. Rest assured, we’re constantly looking for ways to improve the site, both visually and with functionality. If you fine, fine readers ever some across a problem with the site, shoot us a message and let us know about it.

GAME LAUNCH: Conspiracy Asylum

conspiracy_asylum.jpgAfter only a few weeks since the end of Deus City, the fine folks at Fundi Games are back at it again with Conspiracy Asylum File Zero. Our very own Sean C. Stacey had reported two weeks ago on the hint that the puppetmasters left for the players late in November, and noted that the game would be launching around the first of February.

However, here we are five days short of the end of January, looking at new content and open registration on the trailhead site. Currently, the forum-style web site has one entry — “File 1 – Aliens: ‘Are we really alone?’ — which players can comment on, once they register and log in. Once logged in, players are able to offer their theories to either prove or disprove the conspiracy video.

The original beta video is still available on YouTube, although it has changed locations since our previous story. We will provide updates here at ARGNet as more is discovered about the game.

Discussion at Unfiction forums

Eldritch Errors Launches Book Three, Officially

redmoonrising.jpgLet the speculation end! After last week’s article from Michelle Senderhauf and mention on episodes 46 and 47 of the ARG Netcast series, we turn to Schmeldritch for definitive word regarding the launch of Book Three of Eldritch Errors, the long-running Lovecraftian alternate reality game. In the January 23rd entry on the developer’s blog, Brian Clark points to a post on the Unfiction forums (as well as back to here, thankyouverymuch) as a clear indication that festivities have begun for the third installment of the experience.

Clark also notes that he is setting the bar even higher for this new stage of game play, stating, “My expectations for ‘Red Moon Rising’ are obviously higher than they were even for ‘Scream in the Mountains’,” adding, “May I recommend that experienced participants change their tin foil hats daily during Book Three and leave it at that?” If this tickles your fancy and you wish to get caught up with everything that has happened thus far, head over to EldritchErrors.com. Clark acknowledges the new people who may want to jump on board by promising, “Don’t worry that Eldritch Errors has been going since last April, Book Three was developed with you in mind. It was also developed with Book One participants in mind, as well, so you’ll have lots to discover together.”

Cloverfield is Out — What Now?

Editor’s Note: This article is spoiler-free, for those who haven’t see the movie yet. However, outgoing links may contain spoiler information.

cloverfield_poster.jpgWho was to know that when J.J. Abrams launched the first trailer for what we now know as Cloverfield that the buzz surrounding the movie would be so powerful that the famous Mann Chinese Theater in Los Angeles would have a special midnight showing of the film? Well, we won’t say “told you so!” — in fact, we didn’t tell you much, except that there were curious web sites to be found in July of last year, and that the Ethan Haas viral web site was officially unconnected to the 1-18-08 mystery. Thankfully, there are many resources out there for fans of the movie to get caught up on what’s happened in the web campaign so far, in case (like me) you decide that today is the day you finally take a look at some of this stuff.

I began this morning by taking a look through the Cloverfield forum section at Unfiction. I thanked my lucky stars when I came across this post by TheRabbit, which summarizes the story so far, chronologically, and links to all of the relevant sites. It’s easy to follow and helps to connect some of the dots that Abrams and his crew have left along the trail. Essentially, the experience seems to be a tale of the effect of environmental misdoings, which may or may not be connected to a secret ingredient in a popular beverage. I highly recommend reading the post, which looks to be a work in progress.

From there, I surfed over to cloverfieldclues.com which has been an ongoing archive of news regarding the movie and the online experience. The owner of the site, Dennis Acevedo, was recently interviewed on the NPR show “All Things Considered” as part of a feature on the movie and the buzz that was built along the way — our own Sean C. Stacey was also interviewed, but his contribution never made it to the final edit. The Cloverfield Clues web site offers readers a chance to view archives of the in-game web sites as well, which was handy to see today, as many of the sites are “under construction” after the U.S. release of the film.

Onward I went, to the Cloverfield wiki at Despoiler, which is another great source of information and archived items. Wikis seem to be the easiest way to compile info into a trail, and this one is as comprehensive as one would hope. User contributions help to keep facts organized, while discussion is relegated to tabbed Talk pages. The latest news page has documented the recent changes to the game’s web sites, and updates are ongoing.

So now that we’re all caught up, what now? Will the experience keep going, now that the movie is out? Will we see an extended reality that further explains events as they happened in the film? Or is this it for the Cloverfield web presence? While no one knows for sure — except Abrams and his creative team, of course — it seems to be a shame if all of this goes fades into the ether.

UPDATE: Sneak Peek at Heroes 360, Now Heroes Evolution

heroes_exp.jpgThere’s something to be said about major broadcasters who go out of their way to bring interactive content to their dedicated viewership, so when we were tipped off about the continuation of “Heroes Evolution”, the official Heroes ARG, we were quite pleased. This is the same game we began talking about almost a year ago, which we previously knew as the Heroes 360 Experience, so those of you familiar with web sites such as primatechpaper.com and YamagatoFellowship.org are going to be happy to know that the campaign will most likely continue to use these resources.

The announcement of the next stage of the game is part of a press release we dug up at The Futon Critic in which the message is clear — NBC is big on transmedia experiences. On top of announcing expansive digital experiences for new series “Lipstick Jungle” and “Knight Rider,” the release contained this:

The next chapter in the highly anticipated “Heroes” online mythology continues with “Heroes Evolution.” Fans will discover intriguing new back-story and plot twists through the “Heroes” online and mobile micro-sites. The popular graphic novel continues in originals all winter long as well.

So, we mentioned an sneak peek, right? Well, it’s waiting for you, just after the jump, so click on to bask in the glory of exclusive, unreleased content!

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UPDATE: Oceanic Air Flies Again

SPOILER ALERT — This article reveals information that may nor may not have meant to be found by now. Read at your own risk.

oceanic_2008.jpgAs we reported yesterday, there’s a new alternate reality game starting up for acclaimed television series Lost, known as Find 815. According to the Lostpedia, the action revolves around Sam Thomas, a former employee of fictional Oceanic Airlines who is discouraged by the lack of progress in the search for Oceanic flight 815. For those unaware of what this all means, the simplest explanation is that many of the castaways on the TV show were on the doomed flight, which has driven the plot and mythology of the series, soon entering its fourth season.

Players of the game have discovered a wide range of content connected to the game, including web sites, email, a voicemail number, various videos and even a few hidden secrets. As with any new ARG, players are dissecting every aspect of the game, and in the process, discoveries have been made in the last 24 hours that indicate that certain game elements aren’t as secure or hidden as the game designers might have hoped for. In the instance of a guest post on the Unfiction forums, a directory was apparently left unprotected, allowing a player to gain access to game assets. Another issue that defies explanation, for now, is why the mysterious login form at the front of the Maxwell Group web site is actually hosted on find815.com.

The game is expected to run until late January, when season four of Lost kicks off. We’ll keep an eye on things as this new experience marches on.

Various Links:
Find 815 – Trailhead
The Maxwell Group web site
Recording of outgoing voicemail (link leads to recording, not official site)
NetNinja archive of game videos

Comments not working? Our bad…

oops.jpgSo, if you are the type of person to comment on articles here at ARGNet, thank you. If you are the type of person who tries to comment and then notices that their comment fails to show up, we apologize. Some of the comments from the last month (or, in some cases, two months) slipped by us and landed in the junk comments bin. We were able to go back through the queue and publish some of those comments tonight, so if you were one of those people who thought we were censoring your point of view, we apologize (again). The way our comments are approved and published is something we have to explore in the next few weeks, so hopefully this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.

Have a happy new year — see you in 2008!

Book Two of Eldritch Errors comes and goes, PM chat tonight!

pm_chat.jpgNow that Book Two of Eldritch Errors has wrapped up, the people behind the curtain are eager to get together with ARG players to talk about things, and so tonight at 9 pm ET, you can join Brian Clark, Brooke Thompson and a few other distinguished guests in the #stfeline room on the Chat-Solutions IRC network (irc.chat-solutions.org). If you’ve never accessed IRC chat before, you can use our handy-dandy chat applet here at the web site — simply pick the room from the drop-down list and give yourself a nickname, and join in the fun!

In case you’re not up to speed on all things EE, the puppetmasters have their own behind-the-scenes blog at Schmeldritch.com, where they have commented on a very interesting (and somewhat creeptastic) three-day live event that occurred late in October. While we missed the boat on live coverage (sorry!) you can read all about it at Sentry Outpost, the in-game forums for EE, through Biff’s summary post, as well as Mapmaker’s four-part detailed recap (part 1, 2, 3 and 4). From all accounts, it was a nerve-wracking, intense, unforgettable experience.

The Mailman Cometh

postmark.jpgToday was a great day for getting mail. The newest Rolling Stone magazine arrived, as did the December copy of Macworld. Also, nestled between a CAA membership renewal notice and a flyer for a grocery store, was an inconspicuous package addressed to ARGN… from ARGN. ‘Weird,’ I thought, ‘I don’t remember sending myself a package.’ And then it hit me — we were being RABBIT HOLED!

Quickly, I flipped the package over and pulled the easy-open red tab. Inside, I found a DVD, a newspaper headline clipping, and a ripped picture of a fairly attractive woman. After scanning the contents (and the postmark) I went for the DVD and stuck it into my trusty laptop. The name of the disc, My DVD, revealed nothing of use, so I played it, and what I saw shocked and amazed me:

Yes, that was a scary looking guy, hitting a fence. And yes, that was a puzzle piece that flashed on the screen near the end of the video. Okay, so maybe it’s not as shocking and amazing as I might have previously stated, but it’s still a mysterious, ominous video that’s worth watching. Is this the lovechild of The Human pet and the Golden Jigsaw? Probably not, but it’s still something that has us curious about what’s to come.

puzzle_image_video.jpg

So, how do we go forward from here? My guess is that we will have to wait until more people receive similar packages — Sean C. Stacey of Despoiler got one, and is going to be posting a message shortly about what he got. If anyone else out there has more information, be sure to send us a quick note (via the contact form, perhaps?) so that we can provide an update later in the week.

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How Was Your Weekend?

weekend.jpgWhile the weekend represents quiet and solitude for many of you, alternate reality gaming does not stop for days of the week that begin with an S. We received a plethora of ARG tips, tidbits and updates through the past few days, and here are the highlights:

  • Lance Weiler, a recent guest on the ARG Netcast series, has written about Hope is Missing, the ARG that was created to promote the DVD release of his film Head Trauma. His article at The Workbook Project is chock full of details and statistics about the campaign, and is an excellent read for people finding themselves on either side of the Puppetmaster curtain.
  • This year marks the second time that the Trinity University’s Coates Library in San Antonio has run Blood on the Stacks, an alternate reality game that helps new students to get familiar with the school’s library. According to this entry at the SHU – Blogcause07 blog, “anecdotally the library and support staff reported feedback from students of feeling more familiar, less alien in the environment, the library was associated with fun and the staff were more approachable.” This appears to be yet another neat way that people are using ARGs to assist in a social environment.
  • Thanks to a press release we received, we know how survivors of a zombie-apocalypse will find each other — Last Day’s Journal. This is a project that began in 2005 at the hands of Superfreako Productions, a two-brother team that had the idea for a television show dedicated to the concept of a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested world.

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Help us figure out: DNV, LGV 14

whereis14.jpgWhen it comes to game tip emails, we’ve seen our share of cryptic messages, but none as puzzling as the two tips for what we assume is the same game. Tip 1 went a little something like this:

Message: The first messages are being spread. We are Artists, and this is our Art. This is a Game, and we need Players.

You will be informed soon

Signed,
DNV, LVG

PS: Find someone who speaks Dutch

Um, okay. We asked for more information from the author, which is when we got tip 2:

Over there, there is a bridge. Under the bridge, there is a message. Behind the message, there is a code. behind the code, there is a Project.

A website is coming. This is intended as a local game. If anyone lives in that area, feel free to ping him. Be cunning, for we will be aswell.

I’m looking forward to hearing of you.

Signed,
Vincent & Laurence

Accompanying this email was the graphic we include at the top of this article — click on it for the full version.

So, anyone Dutch-speaking ARGers out there willing to give us a hand with this?

What do Education, iPhones, and LG15 Have in Common?

classroom.jpgAfter cleaning out my inbox (1300+ messages!), I found a few stories from the past month or so that I found interesting, and I hope you will too:

Over at Cross-Media Entertainment, Christy Dena is reporting on a new educational ARG called Help Me Solve a Mystery. Quoting from the Research Quest blog , Dena notes that the ARG will be “designed to teach critical thinking and information literacy skill. The game will be targeted to college students, yet will be freely open and promoted in order to attract a broad range of participants.” Our very own Michael Andersen started up a discussion thread at the Unfiction forums earlier this week. Gayla Keesee, who blogs at Ed Tech Lady, has written an article asking for assistance from people currently playing this game, so if you can help her out, be a good samaritan!

Also on the educational front comes this article by Ian Bogost at Water Cooler Games. It tells of an instructional counter-terrorism ARG called the Never Rest Game and links to a discussion thread at the Unfiction forums.

Just as the news of two instructional ARGs comes to our attention Jeremy Vernon blogs about using ARGs as an educational tool. We hope Jeremy is watching the same blogs and web sites as we are.

The last of the education-themed story alerts pointed us in the direction of Dr. Scott J. Warren, a professor at the University of North Texas. Dr. Warren is teaching his students about alternate reality gaming through a course called CECS 1000, describing the course as a “hybrid course.” Warren is extending his classroom environment to Second Life, but exactly what kind of ARG this will turn out to be is unknown, as it is closed to outside access. However, you can read Warren’s own blog at doorarg.wordpress.com.

Shifting gears now, Wagner James Au and Jane Pinckard at GigaOm have pontificated about the most-wanted games for the iPhone, and #7 on the list is Perplex City, or another top ARG. Their argument is that an ARG would showcase the multi-funcionality of the iPhone, and they are calling for Jane McGonigal to be hired for the project.

Elan Lee of 42 Entertainment was recently a speaker at one of the IGNITE discussion nights in Seattle. Video of his talk can be seen at YouTube.

And finally, another ARG set in the universe of Lonelygirl15 has launched. Mission Anchor Cove is being run by TheLadyLazarus, according to this post at LG15 Today.

It’s Been Five Long Years and I Love You Just the Same

5birthday.jpgOn September 26, 2002, this site was born with the groundbreaking news: Forums Closed. Yes, on that day, the Godfather of alternate reality gaming, Steve Peters, relayed the sad news that the ARGN forums were closing, but this led the way to new forums at Unfiction and a new direction for this site as a news source and, shortly thereafter, a hub for community resources. Along the way, Steve found work at 42 Entertainment, which is when I was fortunate enough to be asked to take the site under my wing. The site shifted from a community hub to a full-time ARG news resource in 2006, which is what you see today on our fifth anniversary.

While we don’t have any cake to share on this wonderful day, I do have some bouquets to pass along:

First and foremost, I’d like to thank all of the current and former staff who have made this site a wonderful place to be a part of. The tireless work of these hard-working volunteers has always impressed and amazed me, so they deserve their due.

Secondly, I will thank those leaders out there who continue to dedicate their individual efforts in making sure the ARG community is a warm, welcoming place to be a part of. While we are no longer an official ‘network’ of resources, the camaraderie of the community members proves that we are as much a family as a group of puzzle-solving instant-messaging story-loving people can be.

And last, but mostly, I want to thank all of you readers who continue to make us a part of your day and your life. As cliche as it may sound, without you we’re nothing. We continue to work for this genre because we love and care for this genre, and it’s not only because of the great games, it’s also because of the great people playing them.

So, with all of that said, help us to blow out the candles and celebrate another birthday as we look forward to many more celebrations in the future.

Game Tip Round-Up

roundup.jpgWe have been a bit preoccupied here at the ARGNet Ranch, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not paying attention to the inbox. While we haven’t had much opportunity to follow up on some of the tips we’ve received, we thought it’d be best to release them into the wild to see what happened. Here, in no particular order, are the tips.

From someone calling themselves Fiddlefaddle comes a link to Worse Than a Fairy Tale, which is “ARGesque” in nature and is tied into the new CD of the same name by Drop Dead Gorgeous, a “hardcore/screamo band” that Fiddlefaddle digs. The plot involves murders and the game/experience looks pretty slick and well-produced upon initial viewing.

Guillaume Hugo led us to Nowheremen, but we’re not sure exactly what it is yet. Something to keep an eye on, perhaps?

Michele wanted us to know about SilverLadder, which already as a lot of discussion at the Unfiction forums. We mentioned it on Episode 37 of the ARG Netcast series (to be released in the next few days) and will be watching it closely. There are references to Alice in Wonderland and involves a mysterious “Korporation”, so there are definitely mysteries afoot.

There have been three emails — a tip, and two reminders (okay, we got the message!) — for a new game at What is this Game?. It has a spooky theme, registrations open on Halloween, and the game apparently starts January 1, 2008. No idea what the need is for a two month registration period, but hopefully it amounts to something worthwhile. And, hey, look at that, a MySpace profile that ties in!

Ty Kieth sent us this gem: “I’m sitting in a Safe Room right now surrounded by a random-signal quantum field so the damn Monks can’t see me. I’ve managed to compromise the site. Hopefully I can warn a few converts away while I’m at it. Avery, if you’re there, I’ve left some breadcrumbs for you,” with a link to The Electric Church. This is a tie-in with the book of the same name, authored by Jeff Somers, but we haven’t looked deeper than the front page. Besides, if this game tip isn’t supposed to be written by an in-game character, we’re not so much curious as we are bewildered and a bit scared. Seriously — random-signal quantum fields are our greatest fear.

(Actually, we’re not that scared, as Alex tipped us off to what’s really happening at the site: “It’s not technically an ARG, but Jeff Somers, author of the forthcoming novel The Electric Church, has included a deviously complicated series of codes and puzzles… which should appeal to ARG fans.” Thanks for making us feel safer, Alex.)

Finally, things seem to be progressing quickly at Dunder Mifflin Infinity, so much so that many regional managers have been chosen for new Dunder Mifflin Paper Company branches across North America. If you’re completely lost at this point, we’re talking about the fictional company at the center of NBC’s hit comedy The Office. if you’re a fan of the show, this one is shaping up to be something very, very cool.

And that does it for another few weeks worth of game tips. Keep them coming folks — we anticipate having a bit more time in the coming months for more frequent updates about new games. And, as always, you can check in with the Unfiction forums News & Rumors section for more news and game tips.

Breaking News: Eldricth Errors PM Chat Tonight

Sorry for the late-breaking update, but we’ve just found about a puppetmaster chat for Eldritch Errors, which recently wrapped up the first stage of its game. You can join the chat via IRC (chat applets here or at Unfiction) in the #stfeline room, starting at 9:30 pm ET/6:30 pm PT. This will hopefully be an opportunity to have your questions answered by the team of creators and designers before they disappear back into the mists of Book Two. Someone with a terrible sense of pun-humor might say, “I’ll B Seeing U there!” but there is no one on our staff willing to sink to that level of wit, so just show up, okay?

Welcome to Schmeldritch?

Schmeldritch.jpgAfter almost five months of game play, Book One of Eldritch Errors has come to a close. What began in April with mysterious Craigslist postings and targeted snail mail ended with a live event in Atlanta last Monday, during which a hard drive and boarding pass were found in a room which included three “shrouded ‘figures’ that looked about 4-5 feet tall,” according to this account by sapagoo at the Sentry Outpost in-game message boards. As an epilogue to this climactic event, several additional Craigslists postings have been discovered, where it has been noted that B.A. St. Feline, the psychic character who runs BSeeingU, is experiencing “excruciating pain. Oh, and there were a series of grotesque and disturbing photos uploaded to a player’s personal web site without his consent (or so he says). If this seems confusing out of context, the story-so-far at the Eldritch Errors web site might be a good place to catch up on recent events, as well as the fan-run BSUWiki.

With loose ends being tied up and a break in the action forthcoming, the puppetmasters have come out from the other side of the curtain to talk about the game so far at Schmeldritch, a behind-the-scenes blog. So far, one post has revealed how the recipients of the mailed packages were chosen, and a chapter one credits list is up as well. Game creator Brian Clark describes the site as, “something that happens in between the episodes of Eldritch,” and as “an opportunity to share some tidbits from behind the scenes and some “how to” tutorials for other immersive narrativists dissecting the production.”

Pics of the found hard drive
Contents of the hard drive

ARGNet <3 PICNIC'07

For the second year in a row, ARGNet is pleased to be partnered with the PICNIC cross-media conference! PICNIC’07 takes place at the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam from September 25th through the 29th, during which a wide variety of events and discussion will take place. This year’s festivities also include a Come Out and Play event — London and New York have also been COaP sites. Last year, Sean C. Stacey and Brooke Thompson represented ARGNet at the conference, and provided a number of articles outlining the presentations and events that took place at PICNIC’06, and Sean will be returning this year, so expect more of the same top-notch reporting as last year!

PICNIC at Night, one of the festival’s special features, is a series of concerts and exhibitions that include various aspects of cross-media entertainment, from live music by worldwide artists to virtual worlds and groundbreaking animation. These special evening events are sponsored by companies such as Red Bull and Heineken, as well as the Creative Commons organization, and should deliver enjoyable, entertaining experiences to attendees.

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Network Outages

network_01.jpgThrough the course of today, ARGNet may or may not have been unavailable, or may have been slow or sluggish. Our host has had sporadic, random problems with their servers today, especially (we found, anyway) with their SQL servers. We apologize if the site was misbehaving for anyone earlier, but things seem to be fine now, so hopefully they have their problems fixed.

ARGNet Editor to Appear at G4TV

aots.jpgOn today’s Attack of the Show on G4TV, alternate reality gaming will be the focus of The Loop, according to the show’s blog. ARGNet will have representation during the discussion as our very own Jessica Price will appear to discuss matters with 42 Entertainment‘s Elan Lee. The blog at G4 mentions the recent Why So Serious event as one of the “saving graces” at this year’s Comic-Con, and poses the question, “[A]re ARGs in general an effective means of advertisement?”

Elan was previously featured on Episode 28 of the ARG Netcast series, of which Jessica was a panelist, so this won’t be the first time the two go on-air to discuss ARGs. As well, we’re pretty sure that folks at G4 don’t know that Jessica and Elan also share a place in Cruel 2 B Kind history.

If you have G4TV on your dial, Attack of the Show airs at 7 pm ET (4 pm PT), repeats through the night, and clips are available at the G4TV web site.

In Case You Missed It… Sammeeeees 2!

tinfoilhat.jpgWhile we’re a little extremely late in reporting this story, I figured the word about a Sammeeeees sequel would spread through the ARG community like wildfire, given that the original game was looked upon with so much admiration. And hey, we did mention (on episode 26 of the ARG Netcast series) that there was an “apparent sequel” back in early June. Oh, and speaking of the netcasts, perhaps you tuned into episode 31, where we devoted much of the show to konamouse’s spirited discussion of the game? Huh? Did you do that? Did you?

Okay, all excuses aside, the game is still going on strong. The aforementioned (and totally awesome) konamouse has strung together one of the best Story So Far threads you’ll ever see at the Unfiction forums, and her website and email listing ain’t half bad either. The Sammeeeees puppetmasters were kind enough to fill in the backstory in one fell swoop with an early post at Happy Rogers’ Livejournal. It looks like there are still many, many opportunities to get involved in this intricate, interactive experience, so get your beer and burritos Under Nedd’s Bed and get involved!

Use our IRC Chat Applet to connect to other players in #sammeeeees, and be sure to keep us up to date on how The Wrath of Alan Johnson is going.

UPDATE: Clowning Around Pays Off at Comic-Con

whysoserious_02.jpgWhen Stephen Sondheim wrote Send in the Clowns, chances are good that he didn’t expect anyone to take him at his word. However, for 140 lucky participants, Friday morning at Comic-Con included a chance to become one of the Joker’s gang. If you haven’t met the Joker, perhaps it’d be best if you brushed up on your vigilante hero folklore. As it turns out, the Caped Crusader wasn’t around to stop the mob from taking over the streets of San Diego, moving effortlessly from location to location, many being aided by associates with Internet access, in an audition to fill one of the coveted slots in the Joker’s army. As it turns out, however, the luckiest of the lucky became real unlucky, real quick. Okay, not really — but it makes for a good comic book ending.

Now that I’ve thoroughly confused those of you that haven’t been following along with the happenings at whysoserious.com, let’s backtrack a bit. First, there were a number of uncommon dollar bills making the rounds at the Con last night, leading to the discovery of a creepy looking web site and a countdown. Next came the end of the countdown earlier today (10 am PDT) and a clue for the throngs of people ready for something big to happen. Once the game was on, it was a race that required a coordinated effort between those on the ground and people on the ‘net (unless you carried a Wifi-enabled device with you along the way) that took players to eight different checkpoints over 100 minutes of game play.

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UPDATE: Comic-Con and whysoserious.com

8003959646.jpg
A quick update, for those following along at home: The countdown on whysoserious.com has ended, and a large group of participants have begun to play along with what appears to be a treasure hunt/puzzle trail. Those active on the ground need to either have Internet access, or help from friends that are able to solve online clues. A toll-free number (1-800-395-9646) was given to players at the Con, which leads to the next step in the trail (audio can be heard here). You can watch progress and play along at the following web sites:

Trailhead (you need the code from the audio delivered through the 800 number)
Surveillance
Wannabes (not sure what this is for yet, although chances are it will be a leaderboard of some kind)

Stay tuned — there will be more to come, including a summary of the day’s events, later on ARGNet.

Comic-Con 2007

comics.jpgComic-Con 2007 has arrived, and our roving reporter Celina Beach is at the event, ready for the action to start. This year’s event includes attendees many alternate reality gaming fans will be keeping tabs on, including J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse of the hit TV show Lost. If you remember, it was this time last year when Rachel Blake, a character in The Lost Experience, confronted panel members about their involvement with the Hanso Foundation. We don’t expect the same sort of large-scale ARG event to take place with this year’s Lost, but you never know.

Abrams will be serving double duty at the Con, as he will also be discussing the upcoming movie Star Trek movie. However, there are rumblings across the blogosphere that he will shed a little light into the 1-18-08 mystery that began with a pre-roll movie trailer earlier this month.

With Celina blogging and Tweeting from the event, we will have up-to-the-minute coverage if any ARG-related news breaks through the course of the next few days, so bookmark ARGNet and check back regularly.

Odina Nova Event Scheduled for Today

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about Odina Nova, but thanks to a tip we received last week, we can report that the game is still on, and there is a major event scheduled to happen today. This comes as good news to the players still hanging on, as activity over the last month has been sporadic at best.

Esteed at the Unfiction forums has found a new web site at which some of the game’s mysteries are revealed. According to the tip we received, this is the path towards the “final push” of the game, and that new players can catch up with the game’s story quickly with the information on this new site. There has been progress during the course of the day, so check in with the Unfiction thread for updates as well.

Click here (or here) for our previous coverage of Odina Nova.

World Without Oil: The Post-Game Press Release

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Voleine Amilcar at ITVS for this update!

wwo_logo.jpg(San Francisco—July 12, 2007)—At the end of the 32nd week of the global oil shock, things were looking up. Gasoline prices stabilized in the U.S. – at around $5.60 a gallon, down from a high over $7. Companies were starting to hire again – but more than 2 million people had lost their jobs. Cities were beginning to address more than $1 billion in damage from riots and civil disorder. And in some of the FEMA camps set up outside metro areas, handfuls of people were leaving agricultural work to return home. But among the citizen-journalists chronicling the crisis at www.worldwithoutoil.org, the watchword was caution. “It should be clear of all of us,” warned Blueski, a blogger in America’s heartland, “that this is just a taste of what is to come.”

Produced by the design team at Writerguy, WORLD WITHOUT OIL leveraged the power of people connected by the Internet to imagine the actual events of an oil shortage, document them and innovate solutions. As the event concluded, the grassroots website at www.worldwithoutoil.org had captured a vivid and visceral picture of what our next oil shock might look like, in the form of 1,500 blog pages, videos, images and audio clips documenting the crisis. “We provided the narrative skeleton,” WWO Creative Director Ken Eklund said. “The players fleshed out the story of this alternate reality game.”

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ARGNet Staff: A New Member, a New Role, and New Opportunities

23806838.jpgWe here at ARGNet would like to recognize the addition of a new team member, and the promotion of another. First, we’re happy to announce that long-time ARG community member Celina Beach (aka celina63) has joined our staff, and has already published a great article about Project Osprey. Celina was an invaluable resource at the latest ARGFest, recording video of all the panel discussions, which were later encoded and uploaded to Youtube. She is also a frequent panelist on the ARG Netcast series. Welcome, Celina!

Second, we’re ecstatic to tell you that Marie Lamb has moved up in the ARGNet ranks to become an associate editor. For those unaware of the responsibilities involved, Marie now has the dubious distinction of reading through, proofreading and publishing staff and reader-submitted articles, as well as answering emails and messages sent through our contact form. This is a big responsibility, especially for a volunteer (which we all still are), so we’re very grateful to the very lovely and wonderful Marie. She will work with Jessica Price and me to make sure that all the news that’s fit to print will get out to our readers in a timely fashion.

Speaking of articles, are you up for the task of writing short, blurbtastic news items about currently active games? Do you have a rumor that you want your fellow readers to know about? Is there a feature article or editorial burning in the back of your mind that you simply must publish before it gives you a stroke? Well, we’ve got a deal for you — ARGNet is looking for writers, and we think you might be someone we’re looking for. We have openings for staff writers who are interested in working in a professional(ish), fun, interesting environment, so if you want to help us crank the news out as a volunteer writer, drop us a line.

A Multitude of Game Alerts

busyoffice.jpgAs the saying goes, when it rains, it pours. While browsing my inbox from the last week or so, I’ve come across no less than four game tips, and in no particular order, here’s what we know:

Frank Sturgis, who has previously worked at Allied Resource Management Consolidation Inc. let us know about some shady business going on at the company, and requests help with “get[ting]into their servers” via the ARGNet voicemail. The first problem we see? Frank Sturgis apparently died in 1993. Players are already discussing things at the Unfiction forums.

Joshua at Triad Genomics dropped two separate emails into our laps — one stating “This is the beginning of the Ancient Word,” and the other giving us a string of numbers (18882015221, or 1-888-201-5221). The one-liner comes from the Popul Vuh, an with Mesoamerican/Mayan connections. Discussion has also started on the Unforums with the first post made only yesterday. The game is a promotion for Christopher Forrest’s novel The Genesis Code, according to the official web site.

A new “augmented reality game” (their description, not ours) has appeared which is connected to the popular MeiGeist ARG which concluded earlier this year. The game, called “Timehole” (according to creator Jon Williams) is a proof-of-concept stereotype that utilizes GPS technology, has a 30 minute gameplay duration, and will start within the next six weeks. You can join in on the discussion at this Unforums thread.

Finally, there is an ARG developing in The Netherlands called They Are Here. The game kicked off with an elaborate staged event in which white tents were set up in broad daylight, leaking steam, while people in biohazard suits moved about the scene (thanks to Lieke Voermans for an excellent recounting at her blog). A short discussion has begun at the Unfiction forums.

Let the summer ARGs begin!

ARGs Appear in Greece and Portugal

miguel.jpgOften, our coverage of European alternate reality games drifts somewhere between Manchester City and London, with the occasional dash of Düsseldorf thrown in for good measure. In the past few weeks (and days, in fact), we’ve been alerted to two new ARGs from two of the EU’s finest member states – Portugal and Greece.

While not much is known about how the trailhead video was found for the Greek ARG we’re dubbing Exeis (thanks, anonymous tipster!), we do know where it leads, and what’s connected. Watch the video, titled “Exeis blog?”, and see for yourself how a simple 30 second advertisement for the Gazpacho Music Festival 2007 can turn into a trailhead with a simple message (in Greek, at about the 17 second mark). That message leads to 4728489.com, and the start of the ARG. Greek speakers can start there, while the rest of us are stuck using online translators — and trying to make sense out of statements like ‘Truth Agnwoti Country’.

The offering from Portugal comes to us via a press release: From the creators of the successful interactive teen drama series Sofia’s Diary, Searching for Miguel is beActive‘s latest entertainment proposal – an alternate reality game that involves real characters in a plot of suspense and chase. The release goes on to mention interactivity through web sites, personal blogs, email, video, Hi5 (think Myspace) profiles, phone calls, faxes and SMS messages. The game will run for three months, and registration is free at the official web site.

Know of any ARGs being run in your country? Want to keep us abreast of the latest news of your favorite ARG? Send us a note through our contact form, and tell us about it!

Breaking News: Perplex City Season 2 Delayed Indefinitely

Earlier today it was revealed on the Perplex City game site that the expected June relaunch of the popular alternate reality game would “no longer be possible.” Season two was scheduled to be released this month, but the statement on the site makes reference to the quality of the experience, and how Mind Candy believes in holding off on releases until “they’re ready and… [they’re] entirely happy with them.”

The landscape of Mind Candy itself has also undergone major changes, as Story Team members Adrian Hon, Andrea Phillips, David Varela and Naomi Alderman, as well as COO Dan Hon, have all left the company within the last 48 hours. In blog posts, Dan Hon notes that he wants “to try something new,” while his brother Adrian remarks that “it’s time… to move on.” Phillips and Alderman echoed sentiments of celebration, sadness and thankfulness for the players of PXC, and Varela chose the Unfiction forums to sum up his thoughts on the turn of events.

Details are still emerging, so watch ARGNet for further details. The story will be part of the discussion on the upcoming 26th episode of the ARG Netcast as well.

Thanks to Brian Enigma at Netninja for the summary post and links.

Paul Denchfield + Violet Kiteway = Fun

fia.jpgThree weeks ago, we reported on the Frozen Indigo Angel game promoting BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend music festival. On the same day, we also found out about a season two preview for Perplex City. As it turns out, the two were fated to be reported together, as they were officially connected on May 12th in a blog post on Violet Underground, with a puzzle found in one of Paul Denchfield’s videos leading to a new PXC game web site.

Within a day of finding the puzzle, players of the Frozen Indigo Angel (FIA) game had solved it (see this thread at unofficialmills.co.uk) and discovered the tie-in with Perplex City. On the 14th, Denchfield posted on his blog about the recent activity and the new PXC web site, and Violet blogged about receiving emails which put her in touch with Denchfield himself. At this point, the story revolved around Cyrus Quinton, a member of the myserious Third Power who had set up a secret web page at the newly discoverd Silburn-Griggs Mining web site. Cyrus, according to Violet, is a “sound-engineer-slash-mass-murdering-psychopath,” and Denchfield warns about a “subliminal messaging scheme” Cyrus has planned for the Big Weekend concert — just as Cyrus warns his agents about Denchfield.

From the 15th to the 18th, Cyrus created “ticket challenges” for people to take part in during real world events. These challenges were noted by both Violet and Denchfield in separate blog entries, and players quick to solve the puzzles were awarded with tickets for the concert event. However, not everything is as it seemed, as a timetable was discovered at the same time, revealing that Cyrus was planning on using Perplex City technology during the weekend to send subliminal commands to listeners of Radio 1 who attended the Big Weekend concert. Alas, even as players, led by Denchfield, were told to do whatever they could to stop Cyrus from broadcasting a “primer” over the airwaves, the signal ended up going out on the 17th, “drowning out Beyonce and Shakira.”

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Transcript Published for SXSW ARG Panel

plat.gifDan Hon was kind enough to send us an email letting us know that the transcript from the 2007 SWSX panel discussion “ARG! The Attack of the Alternate Reality Games” is pubished on his blog, Extenuating Circumstances. Alice Taylor, the Vice President of Digital Content at the BBC, was the moderator for the panel which included Hon (also the COO of Mind Candy), Brian Clark (Founder/CEO, GMD Studios/IndieWire), Evan Jones (Creative Director/Producer at Stitch Media) and Brooke Thompson (Giant Mice and ARGNet).

There is a lot of information to sift through, as the panel talks about everything from how ARG is still “emerging” to how budgets are created. Thanks, Dan.

Crossing Your T’s

vault.jpgAbout two months back, I was watching the Conan O’Brien show on a whim, when I was treated to his story about hornymanatee.com. As Conan related to his audience, he had used the URL as part of a joke on a Monday night, but when the standards department of NBC got wind of the situation, things got complicated. Conan was told that if a web site URL is used on-air and doesn’t already exist, then NBC may be liable for the site’s content, which means that they must go out and purchase the URL themselves. So, in summary, NBC is the proud owner of a fake manatee porn site because of an ad-libbed joke.

As fans of alternate reality gaming already know, assets of any ARG must be secured before a game utilizes the asset in a live situation. If a game is going to use a particular email address, then the creative powers behind the game must secure that email address well in advance of the game being launched, and the same goes for web site URLs, phone numbers, addresses, and so on. At ARGFest 07 in San Francisco, Evan Jones commented about this type of situation, recounting a story about how a dot-com email address used in the ReGenesis show had originally been written into the script as a dot-ca address. A well-meaning editor thought “dot-com” sounded better and changed the script without notifying the extended reality creators. Fortunately for the creative team behind the ARG, the dot-com site was registered by someone on their team ahead of time, and everything worked out.

Fast forward to this week, in which a similar situation has unfolded.

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“Dark Days” Are Here?

darkdays.jpgIn the past few days, there have been many signs pointing towards Dark Days Are Coming, a mysterious web site that features some haunting music and puzzle, of sorts. While we’re still trying to sort out the mystery for ourselves, here’s what we’ve found out:

  • the site was discovered after a poem was sent to Rob Purchese, a writer for Eurogamer
  • each line of the poem, it was found, is an anagram for dark days are coming, which led to the discovery of the web site
  • WHOIS information reveals a related web forum, The Secret World
  • the Voodoo Extreme reports that the site is hosted on servers owned by Funcom, a developer and publisher of PC and console games. Funcom’s next release? The Secret World.
  • A post on the Warcry Network details how each line of the trailhead-leading poem is its own web site URL. Strange images can be found at each location, which help in solving the Flash puzzle at the trailhead site.
  • Solving the puzzle leads to confirmation of the tie-in with The Secret World, and a link to the aforementioned forum.

It’s too soon to tell where this will go next, if anywhere. That being said, it would be a shame to waste the wonderful art direction outlined at the DDAC web site if this doesn’t end up moving forward into a more interactive experience, such as an ARG. As soon as we know more, we’ll update this story. For up to the minute information, try the Unfiction forums thread.

Game Alert: Frozen Indigo Angel

frozenindigoangel.jpgThere’s a new alternate reality game in the wild, and it goes by the name of “Frozen Indigo Angel.” It’s a promotion put on by BBC Radio 1, and is promoting Radio 1’s Big Weekend music festival. The event is the largest free music festival in Europe, and the game has a number of tie-ins to real world entities — the BBC web site, radio, podcasts and many popular web sites are where you can find information leading to the game.

The trailhead for the game can be found at www.pauldenchfield.com, which details the life of Paul Denchfield, who obviously loves the conveniences of Web 2.0, as he uses Twitter, Flickr, Imeem and YouTube to tell his story. Recently, there was a live event involving Paul as he protested at the BBC, and our sources tell us that there are more live events in the near future.

The blogosphere has taken interest in the game, as Matt Deegan, Wonderland and The Guardian Blog have all featured the game in recent posts. This is yet another example of how the BBC has embraced alternate reality gaming as a content delivery model and buzzmaker, as previous ARGs Jamie Kane and Wannabes have come out of the BBC camp.

One last thing, for you faithful ARGNet readers — watch this game carefully, as we have an inside track on a very interesting development to come very, very soon.

Game Launch: World Without Oil

wwo_logo.jpgAfter almost two months of anticipation, World Without Oil officially launched today. Announced at ARGFest 07, the game is a “live interactive month-long alternate reality event” that will explore the idea of a worldwide oil shortage. Jane McGonigal (IFTF) and Ken Eklund (writerguy) have led a team of “some of alternate reality gaming’s most experienced puppetmasters” in creating this game, part of the Independent Lens Electric Shadows Web-original programming. With the official launch, the WWO trailhead site has a new look and new features previously not open for the public.

The self-proclaimed grassroots experience bills itself as “an insight into what happens when a great economy built entirely on cheap oil begins to run short,” as it looks at the “impact on people’s lives — work, social, family and personal — and explores what happens when our thirst for oil begins to exceed supply.” It’s not immediately clear as to how the game will take shape, but it seems that player-generated content will be at the heart of the experience, as the game will revolve around “citizen stories in blogs, videos, photos, audio and phone messages posted all over the Internet.”

You can get involved by reading the player wiki, official game blog, and the MySpace blog. You can also register at the trailhead site, and check in with developments at the Unfiction forums.

Source: PR Newswire

42 Entertainment to be Featured on Spike TV Program

unseen.jpgAlternate reality gaming has enjoyed a great deal of mainstream press lately, particularly for games like Year Zero and World Without Oil. Tomorrow night, 42 Entertainment will be featured on Spike TV’s Game Head, a “half-hour weekly program dedicated to everything that is happening in the world of video games,” according to the Spike TV web site. While the show description is interesting enough, a more intriguing tidbit of information game in a game tip sent in to ARGNet which states to watch the show closely, as there may be “something you are missing!”

If you are able to watch Spike, the show airs at 1 AM EST on “Friday” (technically, Saturday) / 10 PM PST on Friday. If you happen to miss it, there is a video archive on the show’s web site, but there’s no indication how long this episode will take to show up there after airing. So, just watch it!

ARGFest 2007 Panel IV: Defining ARGs and the Future of ARG

In the fourth panel discussion at ARGFest, titled “Defining ARGs and the Future of ARGs”, I was fortunate enough to moderate what turned out to be a lively and entertaining discussion from a panel full of people I have professional and personal admiration for. The panel consisted of Brian Clark (GMD Studios), Adrian Hon (Mind Candy), Jane McGonigal (Avant Game, The Institute for the Future), Sean Stacey (Unfiction), Brooke Thompson (Giant Mice) and Evan Jones (stitch Media).

There was an opening round of statements in which McGonigal talked about her latest project, The Institute for the Future, and spoke about how alternate reality gaming can have an impact on the real world by delivering messages about important world issues. She also discussed World Without Oil, which is poised to launch in two weeks. In his opening remarks, Clark went on to state that he was interested in the idea of sustainability, noting that the community needs to find ways to embrace and celebrate all forms of ARG.

The first question for the panel was, “When asked by others outside of the industry, how do each of you describe what alternate reality gaming is?” Clark described ARG as “platformless gaming,” while Thompson focused on the story and narrative and how pieces of the story can be broken up and distributed in many different forms. Stacey agreed, and as he talked about the “collaborative storytelling process,” he added that player actions ultimately color the experience and make it unique. McGonigal focused on the idea of “massively-scaled collaboration,” where game elements “can’t possibly be solved alone,” and real-time game design. Hon interjected with humor as he talked about a “decision tree” approach that he had used in the past, and discussed the ideas of controls and using real-life interfaces within game design. Jones wrapped up responses by bringing up the accessibility and cross-platform aspects of ARG, adding that talking about the idea that “characters believe that they are real” is one of the ways he describes ARG to others.

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Welcome to our Recently Added Staff!

1writer3-med.jpgAs the steady stream of news concerning alternate reality news continues to keep us very busy here at ARGNet, we are pleased to announce the addition of six staff members since we put out our open call for writers in January. Joining us are Jessie Greene, Michael Andersen, Brian Clark, Will Emigh, Geoff May and Andy Darley — be sure to check out their work at our author archive, and to read their bios at our staff page.

ARG Netcast, Episode 18: Studio Cypher

argnetcast.jpgIn the eighteenth installment of the netcast series, we are pleased as punch to have special guests Will Emigh and Nathan Mishler from Studio Cypher joining us for a fantastic discussion. Will, Nathan and I are joined by Brooke Thompson of Giant Mice, Nicko Demeter of ARGNet and Sean C. Stacey of Unfiction.com. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through this link or via iTunes. Contact us at our special netcast email address, [email protected] with your tips, suggestions, concerns and submissions. Call us on the ARGNet voicemail at 630-274-5425.

ARGFest Panel Videos on YouTube

Without the work of Ben Wochinski (encoding and uploading), Celina Beach (filming) and Sean C. Stacey (transcribing), among others, these videos would not have been made possible. A huge thanks to everyone who worked hard to get these videos up and available.

The 2007 ARGFest-o-Con in San Francisco had some brilliant speakers, and now you can watch the panel discussion from the comfort of your own homes! Click on the YouTube link above to get to the playlist that contains all of the videos that were recorded in San Fran, including:

  • The Introduction
  • Panel 1: Developing an ARG
  • Panel 2: Running an ARG, Part 1
  • Panel 3: Roundtable with 42 Entertainment
  • Panel 4: Running an ARG, Part 2
  • Panel 5: Defining ARGs and the Future of ARG
  • Keynote Presentation: Sean Stewart and Elan Lee, 42 Entertainment

Some of the videos had to be split due to length of discussion, but everything that the panelists discussed is right there on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. Also, transcriptions are currently in the process of being completed at the ARGFest-o-Con wiki, and if any of you have a few extra minutes through the day, help them out by transcribing a few minutes of video.

The 2007 ScreenBurn Festival

We are happy to announce that ARGNet is an official media sponsor of the 2007 ScreenBurn festival, taking place at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival this weekend in Austin, Texas. The ScreenBurn festival is an initiative dedicated to providing programming about the newest developments in the gaming community, and we are honored that the festival’s coordinators are recognizing alternate reality gaming as an important piece of the gaming landscape. The festival will run from March 9th through the 13th, and will feature panelists many ARG fans are already familiar with. Brian Clark from GMD Studios and Tony Walsh from secretlair.com will be there, as well as Evan Jones from Stitch Media and Dan Hon from Mind Candy Design. We are fortunate to have representation at the festival as well, as staff writer Brooke Thompson (representing giantmice.com) will be talking on the panel entitled, “ARG! The Attack of The Alternate Reality Games,” which will be moderated by Alice Taylor of the Wonderland blog.

For those looking for a more robust experience (you know, the kind that goes beyond the realm of ARG), you’ll be happy to know that, according to the ScreenBurn website, “panels cover topics such as blogging, business models, content creation, digital convergence, e-learning, entrepreneurism, open source, ubiquitous computing, web design, web hacks and web standards.” With such a depth of topics and panels, the festival should be one of the can’t-miss events of the year.

So, with all of those superstars in attendance, how do you get in on the festivities? Easy! You show up at the door of the Convention Center in Austin, and you pay your money to get in. For the sheer amount of panel discussion and events taking place this year, the $350 cost for the weekend is a bargain. So, if you want in on one of the greatest cutting-edge festivals of the year, get down to Austin and get in to SXSW Interactive. Oh, and if you see Brian, Evan, Dan, Tony or Brooke, say hi for us.

ARG Netcast, Episode 15: FestCast 2007

argnetcast.jpgThe live netcast from ARGFest-o-Con 2007 in San Francisco is ready and waiting for you. Read the show notes at the ARG Netcast web site. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through this link or via iTunes.

My ARGFest

SFimage.pngAs the wheels of the small commuter plane touched down on the tarmac of San Francisco International Airport, the rush of excitement I felt having arrived for ARGFest-O-Con 2007 was almost overwhelming. It had been less than two years since I had attended the large-scale conference dedicated to alternate reality gaming – the 2005 event in New York City was my first ARGFest – but the anticipation for this event had me giddy as a schoolgirl. As I navigated through the weaving maze of gates and security checkpoints, I knew that in less than an hour, I would be meeting up with people from around the globe, some of which I had seen in late 2005 at the Last Call Poker finale, and some that I had never even had the chance to talk to in the online chat rooms that dot the ARG community landscape.

I had the benefit of arriving in San Francisco within minutes of Unfiction owner Sean Stacey and 42 Entertainment’s Elan Lee. After some careful coordination, we were able to share a cab to the convention’s home, the Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf in northern San Fran. We began to talk, and it was obvious that despite a bit of fatigue, the other two were just as excited about the conference as I was. We chatted as though we had seen each other only days earlier, and as we traversed the streets leading to the hotel, fifteen minutes elapsed before Elan finally said, “Hey, San Francisco is really pretty.” We hadn’t even looked out the window of the cab, too busy talking with each other.

The rest of the evening went by much faster than I would have liked. Arriving at the hotel to see old friends and meet those I had previously talked with online, events quickly led to a wonderful Chinese meal, a regrettable absence from the Cruel 2 B Kind game that over 50 teams enjoyed, and a number of beverages at the hotel lounge. It was great to see people I write with on this site, people like Jackie Kerr and Marie Lamb, people who I had never met with in a real-world setting previously. Smiling faces and loud, raucous cheers littered the gathering place, and the festival moved forward, full tilt.

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ARG Netcast, Episode 14: Cow Farts

argnetcast.jpgIt’s a whole new world for the ARG Netcast series. We have our spiffy new website, and a whole new attitude. It’s like Extreme Makeover, ARG style! Episode 14‘s panel, hosted by ARGnet‘s Jonathan Waite, includes Jessica Price, Marie Lamb, Jackie Kerr, and Sean C. Stacey. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through this link or via iTunes.

Head over to the new site for all of the details. Please note: because of the move to the new site, the iTunes podcast number has changed, so many of you regular subscribers will need to update your bookmarks in iTunes.

ARG Netcast, Episode 13: You Can’t Handle The Truth

argnetcast.jpgIn our last episode before migrating the netcasts to a shiny new web site, we reflect on the many, many emails we received in response to Episode 12. Episode 13 assembles the same panel as last week, which (in case you missed it) includes Jessica Price, Nicko Demeter, Jackie Kerr, Sean C. Stacey, Brooke Thompson and Jonathan Waite. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through FeedBurner or via iTunes.

A Disclaimer, A Discussion
The views expressed in the ARG Netcast do not necessarily represent the views of ARGNet. The opinions offered in the ARG Netcast are those of the panelists, and should not be assumed to be factual reporting for the ARGNet web site. We discuss this for a bit, just to make sure we leave no stone unturned.

Game News

  • A new Nine Inch Nails game is out in the wild (starting at www.iamtryingtobelieve.com). It may or may not be a 42 Entertainment game. Nicko has been playing and talks about what’s in the water. Head over to the Unfiction forums for discussion.
  • The Monster Hunter Club summary from molecularr has been published! Also, The Host movie screening was last Monday and included in-game character yumminess!
  • The Gumshoe interactive radio play has been postponed until Wednesday the 21st of February, due to inclement weather.
  • There’s a new game called The Wyoming Incident making waves at the UF forums. With 32 pages of threads so far, we’ll need some help from helpful listeners in sorting out the details for the next netcast.
  • The Vanishing Point post-game chat finally happened yesterday (Saturday), and Jessica was a moderator. She talks about the chat, and Rob from Neowin sends in a special message for the ARG community.
  • Lost Envelope is a new marketing campaign that Nicko has started… and finished playing, with less-than-awesome results.
  • MeiGeist had a live event in Bristol. At airtime there wasn’t much to report, but Russell_k at Unfiction sent us a link to his summary post. Thanks Russell_k!

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ARG Netcast, Episode 12

argnetcast.jpgEpisode 12 of the ARG Netcast series is supersized! Why, you might ask? The answer lies within the netcast itself, with three monster discussions on ginormous topics that found their way into this week’s agenda. So, if you don’t want to hear about how the Receda Cube was found in Perplex City, or how the Deus City creative team has responded to one of their players, or about the true meaning of This Is Not A Game, then stay away! However, for those interested, listen in as the panel consisting of Jackie Kerr, Jessica Price Brooke Thompson, Sean C. Stacey and Jonathan Waite and first-time panelist Nicko Demeter discuss these topics, and more. Note: we’re having substantial problems with audio lately, so we’re sorry for the quality of this netcast, which is not the best. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through FeedBurner or via iTunes.

Game News

  • Oh joyous day, the Receda Cube has been found! Of course, we talk about the center of attention in the Perplex City game, which officially ended (Season One, anyway) with the discovery of the Cube by Andy Darley, an admired and loved Unfiction forums member (Rand0m). Darley writes about his adventure here, and here. Also, here and here. Finally, here is the end of his tale. He’s a great storyteller. Aside from Darley’s discovery, we dish on how clues might have been given to one particular group and not the overall player base, and wonder why Violet was Combed Thunderclap, and how she knew about quirkyacuity.com months in advance of the site being registered.
  • Deus City has responded to a player who offered suggestions, help and bug reports by asking her to leave the game, citing Terms of Service violations. We’ve got the details! We also discuss how players might become confused by the gameplay, given that two of the characters in the game are real people.

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Yay for Player Summaries! An Update on “Meigeist”

geist.pngAfter weeks of our pleading in the ARG Netcast series for player input on games, given the fact that we just don’t have the time, resources or energy to be actively participating in all 173 (seemingly) alternate reality games going on at any given time, Karl “Thunderwolf” Smith was kind enough to step up to the plate and offer up an abbreviated summary of the Meigeist ARG that is currently turning heads and creating buzz. Here’s Karl with the latest:

Hi guys, I’ve just listened to your latest podcast, and so I’m writing in on behalf of all of us currently playing Meigeist. I’m really impressed with the game so far – the puzzles have been coming in steadily, we’ve had 10 already and the game’s not even been up and running a month. They’ve started off fairly easy and have gradually been picking up… a nice learning curve for new ARGonauts. The level of interaction has been very high; many people have received letters and phone calls, voice mail messages, picture-texts, the works. It’s shaping up to be very action packed, and we’ve all got our fingers crossed for live events too. Obviously as it’s being run here in the UK a lot of the events are in a GMT time frame, but people outside the UK have received letters and phone calls too, so it’s certainly not limited to UK players only.

As far as the storyline goes, it’s certainly starting to heat up now. What started as a search for a missing cat has started delving into the realms of hypnotism and mind control. There’s some great characters too. We all care about Eva, and so now we’re all worried after her latest video blog… has she disappeared for good? Add to that Bryan Wilson, the professor with a heart of gold who may well have a sinister hidden agenda, and the enigmatic Keir Jones, who is now apparently being surveilled by the very people he was keeping tabs on… but can we really trust him?

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ARG Netcast, Episode 11

argnetcast.jpgSo, after hours of post-recording edits for Episode 11 of the ARG Netcast series, the audio quality for one side of the conversation is terrible at best. Don’t let that dissuade you from listening though, as this week’s roundtable is as entertaining as it is informative. Regular panelists Brooke Thompson, Jackie Kerr, Sean C. Stacey and Jonathan Waite are joined this week by Jessica Price, ARGNet writer and Unfiction forums moderator. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through FeedBurner or via iTunes.

Game News

  • The Heroes 360 experience moves along, albeit very slowly. There is a lovely player wiki (yarr, there be spoilers) that has been created, so hopefully the game gains a bit more momentum, soon. Also, see this Blogspot page for more (spoilers ahoy!) information.
  • Meigeist is getting love from afar. They also have a nifty player wiki which will get you caught up in less time than you can say “Save the cat, save the world.” Although, you’d sound silly saying that.
  • Perplex City players are pretty darn close to finding that cube, we hear. Something about a rock, and a Jurassic… something. They also have some pretty cool plans for the reward money.
  • Monster Hunter Club explains away some advertising, and characters show up at the Today show.
  • Puzzle of the week: A grid puzzle needs reconstruction (and deconstruction) for Monster Hunter Club. See this thread at the Unfiction forums for more details.
  • The VirtuQuest people send us a response to our questions about Township Heights. Jackie weighs in on the “mildly insulting” situation. Then the rest of the panel piles on.
  • Check out this beautiful mock-up (totally unofficial, we understand) of the Neowin-Unfiction branded AMD chip. This will apparently be possible thanks to the winner of the meta puzzle of the Vanishing Point game. Neowin/Unfiction for the win! We also report on the now-postponed VP post-game chat with 42 Entertainment, so ignore that part when you get to it.
  • Studio Cypher will be releasing the fourth chapter in their Multiplayer Novel soon, called High Stakes.
  • Jessica talks about her experiences with Ravenchase, which you can also read about in her outstanding ARGNet article.
  • Jane McGonical is going to be the first ever female keynote speaker at the Game Developer’s Conference in March. We couldn’t be happier for Jane and wish her the best!
  • ARGFest is less than a month away.
  • We let the cat out of the bag about ARGNet’s partnership with SXSW for the Screenburn festival. Details will be released in the coming weeks. Brooke will be speaking at the conference, for those who can make it.

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Vanishing Point Post-Game Chat Postponed

vanishing_point.jpgA quick but important update about the post-game chat announcement we published late yesterday — the post-game chat with members of 42 Entertainment that was scheduled for later today has been postponed indefinitely. According to Neowin, the sponsors of the Vanishing Point game (Microsoft and AMD) want to wait until the list of winners is announced before chat takes place. As soon as we get word on the date and time of the rescheduled chat, we’ll let you know.

Vanishing Point Post-Game Chat Scheduled for Tomorrow

vanishing_point.jpgSorry for the short notice, but we thought it would be good for us to mention that the Vanishing Point post-game chat will take place tomorrow (February 6) at 4 pm EST (3 pm CST, 1 pm PST, 9:00pm GMT) through the magic of SkypeCasting. The chat will be co-moderated by people representing two of the largest communities who actively played the game — Unfiction and Neowin. According to the Neowin announcement, the chat will be organized into six sections — Game design, Puzzles, Community response, Behind the scenes, Media response/Live events and Miscellaneous. For those of you without the Skype software, you can download it for free at their web site.

ARG Netcast, Episode 10

argnetcast.jpgIt’s our tenth netcast, and as is the tradition, the roundtable discussion is both light-hearted and full of important game information. This week’s panel is made up of regular guests Jackie Kerr, Brooke Thompson, Sean C. Stacey and Jonathan Waite. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through FeedBurner or via iTunes.

Game News

  • The Vanishing Point game is over, and Sean was there in the flesh for the festivities. Get the skinny on the behind-the-scenes action!
  • Township Heights comes to a sudden and unexpected end. Was this a cash-grab or is the game still going, with the apparent endgame being part of the game?
  • Gumshoe is billing itself as an interactive radio play. It launches on Valentine’s Day, and we’ll be listening.
  • Meigeist kicks it old-school with enough content, puzzles and interaction to satisfy a multitude of players.
  • The Sector Seven/Transformers ARG viral campaign stalls. Fanboys and fangirls around the world really want this to be more than what it currently is.
  • Odina Nova will relaunch in March after a short hiatus. Our very own Jessica Price has the details on ARGNet.
  • The Heroes 360 experience launches for the hit NBC television series. Save the cheerleader, play the ARG?
  • The Library of Babel site for the Perplex City game holds what could be the final clue for finding the Receda Cube, after an article/advertisement in the London Sunday Times. Find it soon, please.
  • Monster Hunters goes live, a tie-in with the North American release of a South Korean movie called The Host. Did you get your Yeti in the mail?

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ARGFest ’07 Online Chat Scheduled

SFimage.pngFor those of you who still have lingering questions after our special ARG Netcast on ARGFest-o-Con 2007, you are in luck. Tomorrow, in the #argfest room at the Chat-Solutions IRC network, organizers and attendees alike will be present to discuss the festivities, as well as organize some of the details for the event. If you are interested in attending the chat, it will happen at 8:00 pm EST on Thursday, January 25, 2007. We have set up a dedicated chat channel for your convenience, so now you really have no excuse for not being there. Come one, come all, and bring your ideas and questions!

Belated Welcomes, and an Open Call For Writers

writer.jpgAs the genre of alternate reality gaming continues to grow, so does ARGNet. Last year, we welcomed the additions of five new staff writers, and while we officially announced the addition of three in April, we were remiss in failing to officially welcome Nicko Demeter and Jessica Price to our staff in the latter stages of 2006. As faithful readers (you all are, aren’t you?) you’ll have already had an opportunity to enjoy Nicko’s articles on topics like Stranger Adventures and Perplex City, while Jessica has written about Ny Takma and Sammeeeees and was a driving force behind the 2006 Year in Review. Although they’ve both been kicking around our staff lounge for a while, partaking of our wonderful buffet of nachos, we want to officially welcome these two bright, enthusiastic writers to our staff.

If you’ve not visited the ARGNet web site recently — perhaps you subscribe to our RSS feed instead — this month has been one of the busiest periods in ARG history. Our What’s Hot section has ten games we’re currently keeping tabs on, and there are a few more which are starting to show up on our radar as well. With all of the news coming out regarding ARGs, we are hoping to find a few good men and women to assist us in writing articles and features for our web site. Therefore, starting today, I am putting out an open call for writers, in the hopes that there are still people out there who don’t mind a little bit of volunteer work in exchange for worldwide notoriety and fame. Okay, maybe not fame, but definitely notoriety.

If you are someone who is dependable, honest, and willing to write an article for ARGNet once a month, we’re looking for you. The submission guidelines are as follows:

  1. Write a 100-150 word blurb-style article on any currently running game. For recent examples, see The Case of the Gumshoe Radio Play and The Trouble With Tropes.
  2. Write a 400-500 word feature article about any of these topics: 1) a game, current or historical; 2) an interesting story or aspect of the ARG community; 3) a topic of interest to the ARGNet readership; 4) being a puppetmaster or behind-the-scenes game creator.

Submissions need to be sent in to [email protected] by 11:59 pm (CST, GMT -6) on Friday, February 2nd, 2007. Naturally, spelling and grammar count, and a submission does not guarantee an invite to join the ARGNet staff. However, we’re confident that through this process, we’ll be able to expand on our award-winning* team of journalists**, so if you’ve always wanted to be a part of our dynamic*** squad of writers, here’s your chance.

* No awards have been given to ARGNet in the past. This is simply a precognitive statement.
** The definition of “journalist” is broad enough for us to use this term liberally.
*** Dynamic doesn’t even begin to describe our staff.

The Case of the Gumshoe Radio Play

gumshoe.jpgWell, either I’m a psychic genius or someone out there is listening close to our netcasts. Hot on the heels of my prediction in Episode 8 of the ARG Netcast series that there would be a radio play-style alternate reality game released sometime in 2007, we got a game tip about Gumshoe, an “interactive, 6-part radio drama.” The first episode in the series is set to be released on Valentine’s Day by the Gallagher Brother’s Radio Theatre. We can’t say for certain how the interactivity will be built into the series, but the site is currently advertising a free membership in something called the Gumshoe Secret Society, which includes “an exclusive Decoder Ring, which you can use to discover hidden clues within each broadcast.”

Anyone interested in what could possibly lie ahead in this detective tale can listen (in browser or as a download) to the first preview for the radio play. It’s too early to be certain about what Gumshoe will end up looking or sounding like, but it would be very satisfying for me, personally, to be dead-on right about a prediction for once, so we’ll get back to you after February 14th to see what shapes up.

ARG Netcast, Episode 9.5

argnetcast.jpgIn this supplemental, special netcast, the panel from episode 9 return to talk about ARGFest-O-Con. This is a very informative, relatively short netcast dedicated solely to discussion about the 7th installment of the ARG discussion conference and social get-together. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through FeedBurner or via iTunes.

What’s the story?

  • ARGFest-O-Con 2007 is the 7th in a series of social events for the alternate reality gaming community. From the website: ARGFest-o-Con 2007 will be held Friday through Sunday, March 2-4, 2007, in San Francisco, California, USA. The focus will be on “How to PM a Game” and “the Future of ARGs” (these are working titles).
  • The web site has a handy wiki where people interested in the event can communicate with attendees, view schedules (under construction), and get information on accommodations.
  • Speakers for the event, so far and officially announced, include Adrian Hon (Mind Candy), Evan Jones (xenophile), Kristen Rutherford, Brooke Thompson (Giant Mice), Krystyn Wells (glitterbook), Sean C. Stacey (Unfiction), speakers from sf0, Dave Szulborski, Brian Clark (GMD Studios), Jane McGonigal (avant game), Steve Peters (42 Entertainment), and keynote speakers Elan Lee and Sean Stewart of 42 Entertainment. Stewart will also be signing books at the event.
  • Events are still being planned, and restaurants are still being chosen for social gatherings.
  • Registration for the event is $10 US, which gets you a neat-o registration package. Registration will be available online soon, watch the web site for updates.
  • A Fest Quest is in order, but the organizers need locals to step in and help out. Sponsors are needed to help out with costs. Also, if you are particularly good at dealing with the media (who have expressed much interest), there’s a job waiting for you. Contact us here at ARGNet if you are available to help out with any of these situations.
  • A T-Shirt contest is open for the event, but will close soon. There’s a fabulous prize available, so enter now and enter often!
  • We go on (and on, and on) about how much fun these fests are. You just have to attend.

Contact us at our special netcast email address, [email protected] with your tips, suggestions, concerns and submissions. Call us on our ARGNet voicemail at 630-274-5425.

ARG Netcast, Episode 9

argnetcast.jpgCaution: possible spoilers about Perplex City are revealed in this netcast.

It’s our first netcast of 2007, and I’m happy to be joined by regular panel guests Brooke Thompson, Jackie Kerr and Marie Lamb, with special panel guest rose. In our ninth netcast, we talk about games, games and more games. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through FeedBurner or via iTunes.

Game News

  • Vanishing Point is live and full of wonderful prizes and challenging puzzles. And, no, we don’t all think it’s an ARG… even if 42 Entertainment is behind it.
  • Puzzle of the week: The META puzzle from Vanishing Point. Read more about it at the Unforums.
  • Township Heights, the new VirtuQuest alternate reality game, launches with a pay-to-play model and a few T-shirts.
  • Meigeist (the ARG formerly known as Geist) goes live and people are already buzzing about the quality of the game this far. Oh, and there are cute, cuddly cats involved. You can get behind-the-scenes information here if you can’t wait for us to publish an ARGNet article about the game.
  • NeoVenus Construction (AKA Nevec) looked to be stalled before candy bars and a new blog opened the game back up with a resurgence. See Krystyn Wells’ ARGNet article for more information.
  • The Sector Seven/Transformers ARG viral campaign stalls. Fanboys and fangirls around the world really want this to be more than what it currently is.
  • Perplex City has life, as the players feel that they are close to finding that darn cube. It’s not an easy path, however.
  • Second Life Future Salon panel discussion on ARGs took place on the 27th of November, we hope to have access to the audio from that discussion soon.
  • The Human Pet reinvents itself with more videos and a shiny new website, complete with community-forming forums.
  • Deus City is on a bit of a hiatus, claiming that the recent storms in the U.S. have thrown an icy wrench into their plans. Yeah, sure — nice excuse. No, really, we like it.
  • Marie talks about Doom Skull, which we were ready to pass off as just another game… until she really sold us on it.
  • Preview for next week — Bristelgoodman.. On first glance, it looks rather creepy. We’ll know more by next week.

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McGonigal Chat Transcript is Online, and the Second Life Future Salon

mcgonigal.jpgOn December 19th, 2006, Jane McGonigal was interviewed by CNET‘s Daniel Terdiman at the CNET Bureau in Second Life, as we previewed the day before. As a follow-up, readers who were not able to get into the live audio interview may want to know that the chat transcript has been posted online for the past two weeks in the Newsmaker section at CNET. McGonigal talks about her history with alternate reality gaming, the possibilities of ARG within Second Life, Cruel 2 B Kind and the Nintendo Wii.

Speaking of Second Life, it’s been quite a while since we were supposed to have reported on the Second Life Future Salon podcast, so now’s just as good a time as any. On November 27th, 2006, the Second Life Future Salon podcast series recorded its second episode. Tony Walsh (Clickable Culture), Elan Lee (42 Entertainment), Adrian Hon and Dan Hon (Mind Candy) joined Jerry Paffendorf of The Electric Sheep Company for a discussion of alternate reality gaming and its relation to Second Life, which also gave the panel an opportunity to pontificate about the future of ARGs in the Second Life universe. While the audio quality is not the greatest, it’s an interesting discussion and is worth taking a listen to.

ARG Netcast, Episode 8

netcast.jpgWe were big liars when we said that Episode 7 of the ARG Netcast would be the last of 2006. Yesterday, Jonathan Waite was joined by Sean C. Stacey, Marie Lamb, Brooke Thompson and Carie Ward for a look back at 2006, and a look forward towards what might happen in 2007. Episode 8 is our year-end Review and Predictions episode, one you don’t want to miss!

The Vanishing Point

vanishing_point.jpgA mysterious message posted recently in the news section of MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) IE Blog has people buzzing about the possibility that another large-scale alternate reality game is about to go live. The image, which includes a complicated cipher code and a link to the Vanishing Point web site, was found by a number of people at the Neowin forums who have done a lot of work since the discovery to solve some of the puzzles already in place. One of the features of the web site is a countdown, which is counting down to January 8th, and further investigation of the Flash file reveals that there is an event occurring at the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas that day. Conveniently, this coincides with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which starts on that day in Las Vegas. The connection between Microsoft and the CES makes this page on the site very interesting, where “high-end laptops, gaming computers, media centers, software, gaming consoles, media players, and games” are said to be won when the countdown hits zero.

According to this Neowin post, the Flash used on the web site points back to 42 Entertainment, creators of I Love Bees and Last Call Poker. Regardless of who is making the game, the message is already getting out to a number of sources — one person has received things in the mail, while a video (used to be on YouTube, but has since disappeared) includes various clues about the mystery so far. It will be interesting to see just what happens in the days ahead with this project, so stay tuned and keep your eyes open for developments.

:: Trailhead
:: Discussion at Neowin forums
:: Discussion at unfiction forums

A&E Unveils Sopranos Cross-Media Experience

sopranos.jpgSo, it turns out that even a mob boss from Jersey can’t resist the sweet smell of cross-media gaming. In January, when the hit HBO series The Sopranos begins a syndicated run on A&E, it will be accompanied with a “real-time online experience” touted as “fantasy sports meets scavenger hunt,” according to a press release ARGNet received yesterday. The Sopranos A&E Connection game will be played online, but will involve real-world game pieces found in different locations, such as billboards and magazine ads. While the game has already launched (it was possible for players to start collecting game pieces beginning on December 15th), new players can register at the trailhead web site before the action really gets going on January 10th, 2007 – the night the first two episodes of Season One debut on A&E. Even more exciting for the ARGNet faithful — we have a unique opportunity for a few lucky readers to win fabulous Sopranos prizes!

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Jane McGonigal on CNET Tomorrow

microphone.jpgJane McGonigal, the well-known alternate reality gaming designer and academic, will be interviewed tomorrow by Daniel Terdiman of CNET in the Second Life virtual world. McGonigal, creator of Cruel 2 B Kind and former lead designer at 42 Entertainment, will be talking in the theater of the CNET bureau in Second Life, marking the second occasion in less than a month where ARG designers have spoken in the Second Life realm — the other, a Second Life Future Salon discussion, will be discussed in a future article here at ARGNet.

According to the CNET Gaming Blog, the interview will happen at 11 am PST (2 pm EST, 7 pm GMT) but you must be registered at Second Life to access the CNET SL Bureau.

ARG Netcast, Episode 7

argnetcast_december.jpgWe bring you a merry netcast,
We bring you a merry netcast,
We bring you a merry netcast,
The last one of the year (maybe)!

Carie Ward, Brooke Thompson, Sean C. Stacey and Jackie Kerr return to sling the ARG dirt with Jonathan Waite. Episode seven is a doozy, clocking in at 1 hour and 7 minutes, but it’s definitely something that’ll warm your heart this holiday season. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through FeedBurner or via iTunes.

Game News

  • A bit more on the Lost Planet ARG we talked about last week, which Carie wrote about on Wednesday.
  • Lawn Games For Life is sweeping the U.S. with geocaching and puzzle solving. Not only did Carie write about it for us here, but she also started a guide. You go, girl!
    This is also our Puzzle of the Week, as the players need help getting to items left in the Southwestern U.S.
  • Steve Peters of 42 Entertainment continues on his cross-podcast tour with an exciting and informative interview with GeeksOn.
  • Enoch of Gatewood is new on the scene, but the story leaves us giggly.
  • The creator of Hell Is Not Gone asks for help in advertising their game, almost a month after players were first pointed to it. By him.
  • Jericho may have something ARGish brewing for their off-season, but if they don’t, it’d be a shame.
  • Second Life Future Salon panel discussion on ARGs took place on the 27th of November, we hope to have access to the audio from that discussion soon.
  • EDOC Laundry stirs back to some sort of life, partly by accident. Whatever the case, this might be your chance to get in on the ground floor, again.

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OpAphid Becomes “Official LonelyGirl15 ARG”

cassie_opaphid.jpgJust when you thought the LonelyGirl15 phenomenon had settled down, in walks Cassie. Cassie, an 18 year old YouTube contributor from, um, “right there above you,” first caught the eye of LG15 fans in mid-September when she was mentioned in one of the LonelyGirl15 videos. From there, it’s a little hard to explain, what with the public skepticism about whether “Cassie Is Watching” (the first video in the Cassie series can be found here) was officially tied in with LG15. Weeks passed by with no official confirmation on whether Cassie, Bree and Daniel (the latter two being the main characters of the LG15 videos) were all part of the same story, which left fans wondering whether Cassie was another creation by the makers of LG15 or some sort of story hijacking attempt.

Then, on October 21, things took a turn for the… even more strange and confusing. Somehow, a YouTube user named OpAphid became intertwined into the LG15/CIW universe. Again, followers of events had to wonder if this was another attempt to derail the “official” LG15 experience. Fortunately, exactly one month later, the public got some well-deserved answers from the LG15 creation team — OpAphid had become the “Official LG15 Alternate Reality Game,” according to a post on the LG15 forums. Days later, the LG15 creators acknowledged that OpAphid “was a 100% fan created ARG” and that they “liked it so much that [they] decided to contact the creator and make it the official LG15 ARG.”

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ARG Netcast, Episode 6

netcast.jpgIf half a dozen netcasts are as sweet as half a dozen donuts, then feast your ears on the sixth ARG Netcast. Sean C. Stacey, Brooke Thompson and Jonathan Waite are joined this week by Carie Ward, ARGNet staff writer and webmaster of wonderweasels.org. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through FeedBurner or via iTunes.

Game News

  • Ny Takma wrapped up this past week. The puppetmasters have spoken — find out what we think about the endgame.
  • Sammeeeees players are hot on the trail of the 4th and 5th Spoocheeeee disc pieces, and konamouse offers a Top Ten list. Does this ARG have the personal touch mastered?
  • OpAphid becomes the “Official LonelyGirl15 Alternate Reality Game, according to the official LG15 forums. Is this ARG 2.0?
  • Deus City rolls on. There’s a basic plot time line and cast of characters at the Unfiction forums.
  • tCotSA (The Committee of the Sedulous Amalgamation) shows signs of life with new snail mailings to various players. ARG or puzzle trail?
  • Lawn Games For Life is a new ARG. Brooke and Carie have the skinny on this emerging campaign, including info about the PM herself.
  • NeoVenus Construction may or may not be an ARG related to Capcom’s Lost Planet. Slick web sites, more information to follow this week.

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Project MU Archives Book Released

mu_book.jpgOnce upon a time, there was Metacortechs, a Matrix-themed alternate reality game that ran from August to November 2003. The game was good, and the players enjoyed it. Some players enjoyed it so much that in 2004 they wrote a comprehensive archival book, which can still be found at Metaurchins.org. And one day, those dedicated souls took that online book and had it made into a full-color, 218 page print version. That day just so happened to be this past Wednesday, marking three years since the end of the Project MU ARG.

While online guides, wikis and trails for ARGs is commonplace, books related to specific ARGs are rare. And while we don’t have a physical copy of the book in the office (yet), we’ve seen the electronic version of the print copy, and it looks good. Darn good. Plus, at $39.99 (€32.19), the book authors are donating all proceeds to unFiction, the ARG player resource. You can find and purchase the MU Archives Book through its online store on Lulu.com.

Ny Takma Says Goodbye, PM Chat Scheduled

ny_takma_end.jpgThe Ny Takma alternate reality game, which began on September 30th, has reached a successful conclusion. It was an ARG soap opera of sorts — Bryan and Chaya, aliens which have had their love for each other transcend the boundaries of time, got back together, thanks to Kendra, who opened the Ark, releasing Chaya. John, the ladies man, tackled the two lovers, which resulted in the three of them becoming trapped inside of the Ark. This left Kendra alone and full of sadness at the fact that there is no one left here on Earth to call a family. The story elements aside, what made this endgame special for the players was the fact that they had an impact on how the final events took shape. For those interested, there is a final video update at the game’s main website.

The PM’s will be having a chat in #nytakma on the Chat-Solutions IRC network tomorrow at 9pm CST (10:00 pm EST). You can access the chat room by clicking on the Chat tab at the top of the ARGNet homepage, and selecting the #nytakma room from the menu.

ARG Netcast, Episode 5

netcast.jpgOn the fifth ARG Netcast your panel gave to you… Sean C. Stacey, Brooke Thompson, Jackie Kerr and Jonathan Waite. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through FeedBurner or via iTunes.

Game News

  • VirtuQuest OpenARG 6.5 set to launch soon, available for the public.
  • Free! Psychic Readings ended yesterday.
  • EVA launches with allusions to the End of the World. A summary thread can be found here at the Unfiction forums.
  • Avelon 2 is up and running — a sequel to Avelon from 2005.
  • Correction from last week: Deus City ARG is not done by the Ares Station group. Ares Station group went on to create Studio Cyphers.
  • Deus City is one week old, and already there is game play controversy involving factions and separate password-protected forums.
  • The Human Pet is back under a new YouTube identity.

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ARG Netcast, Episode 4

netcast.jpgEpisode 4 of the ARG Netcast contains more of the same tantalizing discussion that you’ve grown accustomed to over the past few weeks. Regular panel members Sean C. Stacey of unfiction, Brooke Thompson of Giant Mice and ARGNet’s Jonathan Waite are joined by special guest Steve Peters of 42 Entertainment. Subscribe to the ARG Netcast feed through FeedBurner or via iTunes.

Topics of Discussion

  • With our special guest joining us, we grill Steve Peters about his move to professional puppetmastery, and get his thoughts on the directions that we might see ARG move towards in the near future.
  • Elan Lee, another 42 Entertainment alum, gave a speech at the Montreal International Gaming Summit this past week (our own Carie Ward broke the story here), and our panel looks at some of the things he said.

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ARG Netcast, Episode 3

netcast.jpgIt’s already Episode 3 of the ARG Netcast series. Once again, this week offers the comedy stylings of unfiction’s Sean C. Stacey, the politically-charged folk songs of Giant Mice’s Brooke Thompson, and the gospel hip hop of M.C. Jonathan Waite of ARGNet. Subscribe to the ARGNet feed through FeedBurner or via iTunes.

Game News and Topics of Discussion

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ARG Netcast, Episode 2

netcast.jpgEpisode 2 of the ARG Netcast features Sean C. Stacey of unfiction, Brooke Thompson of Giant Mice and Jonathan Waite of ARGNet. You can now find the netcast on iTunes, by the way — search for ARGNet and subscribe!

Game News and Topics of Discussion

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Live Games Network To Launch “The Prague Files”

livegamesnetwork.jpgLive Games Network, which we were pointed to thanks to a tip from c|net’s Daniel Terdiman, is a recently-founded company that “produces and directs games that let players live a fictional adventure for set period of time,” according to their web site. Their first campaign, titled The Prague Files, is set to launch on December 4th of this year, and will last for fourteen days. It looks like it will be a mysterious spy-themed game, based on the video preview you can find on the LGN site, and will require “a cell phone, an email address and web access” to play. There is a contest element, promising prizes such as XBox 360 and PSP game packs, as well as a one week trip to Prague for the winner and a friend, but the contest is limited to U.S. residents (except Maryland, Vermont and New Jersey). Oh, and it’s subscription based — according to the rules of the game, “once you have paid the subscription fee, there will be no refunds for any reason, including, but not limited to, lack of participation in the Contest.”

So, why do we care? Well, if this delivers what it appears to promise, this may be the type of interactive experience many of you might enjoy. If it has a story arc, coupled with interactive features and puzzles, in a real-time environment, then that might mean it’s an ARG, even though the site doesn’t refer to the game as such. The Training link on the page refers to a game, DeltaOneZero, which was concluded in December of 2003, that was described as “one of Australia’s first cross-media, web based gaming experiences.” However, with the subscription model (which requires a credit card for payment, incidentally) intact, will it reach as large an audience as it could without the pay-to-play aspect? And will a worldwide audience embrace a contest that can only be won by an American participant which is being put on by a relatively unknown upstart company? I guess we’ll find out in 41 days.

Regenesis Extended Reality Wins Gemini Award

gemini.jpgCongratulations are in order for Canadian production Xenophile Media as they captured the 2006 Gemini Award for Best Cross Platform Project at last week’s ceremonies in Toronto, Canada. Their ARG, the ReGenesis Extended Reality, won for the first time in the prize category, awarded to the “interactive project that best “enhances the users’ enjoyment of the television program/series through such platforms as mobile, the Web and other portable devices”,” according to a press release. ReGenesis is a Canadian bio-lab drama available in Canada and in syndication worldwide.

Shaftesbury Films, who produce the television series, has been forward-thinking in its attempts to connect to its audience, partnering with Xenophile to manage the alternate reality gaming model which has delivered real-time content that is directly related to the weekly series for both of the show’s seasons. In the second season’s Extended Reality, players were treated to hours of video clips which broadened the overall storyline of the show, and the show reciprocated (in a fine bit of pre-filmed trickery) by acknowledging the efforts of the players as they attempted to aid the scientists working at NorBAC labs in Ontario.

You can watch the Gemini awards gala will be broadcast on Canadian network Global on November 4th at 6:30 pm PST / 9:30 pm EST. The Gemini Industry Awards, which were awarded over a three night span, will be broadcast on Rogers Television in the Toronto area, so if you want to see the Xenophile folks accepting their awards, you’ll want to tune in on for the second of the three nights, dubbed the “Gemini Lifestyle, Children’s and Youth,” which will be shown at 6:00 pm EST on November 17th.

ARG Netcast, Episode 1

Editor’s note: While we are still figuring out the logistical nature of netcasting, you can subscribe to the netcast by saving/dragging this link into your podcast/netcast program, including iTunes.

netcast.jpgWe’re happy to introduce the first in what will be a continuing series of netcasts featuring ARGNet staff and special guests. The ARG Netcast will be a weekly (we hope) look into the world of alternate reality gaming, in audio format. Episode 1 is up and features Brooke Thompson, Sean C. Stacey and myself talking about a number of different topics:

We dish on the games in our What’s Hot List!

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ARGNet: A New Frontier

new_logo.jpgMark this day on your calendars, folks, because today ARGN becomes ARGNet. And from now on, we’re reporting news. Forget about the fact that we’ve been reporting the news for a long, long time now — today, ARG news becomes our only mission. Not that being the largest, most complete alternate reality gaming affiliate site wasn’t great and all, but we’ve moved past that stage in life, and are ready for the future.

So, what is this crazy future I speak of? Well, for starters, ARGNet now becomes your largest and most complete news resource available for players of online collaborative Alternate Reality Games (or so our About page says). We’re going to move away from being that kind of network and move towards being this kind of network. You know, less like Cisco and more like CNN. Now, this doesn’t really change much, but even small changes can be revolutionary in scale, so we’re happy to make this announcement and officially shift gears to becoming a dedicated news source. We hope you like the changes we have in store, starting with tonight, and invite your comments and suggestions.

The Lost Experience and Catching The Wish Wrap Up, Three New Grassroots Games Launch

Wow, October already? Thankfully, not much has happened in the past couple of weeks that would be noteworthy for reporting here. I wonder what’s going on in the world of alternate reality gaming lately? Let me just check this… email inbox I have over here… and… oh. Wow. Really? All of that happened in the last 14 days? Huh. (Yes, I’m a little late on reporting a few recent developments, so let me jump right into it.)

TLE_end.jpgThe Lost Experience, the three (or five, depending on the source) stage ARG which began in early May with mysterious television advertisements, concluded on September 24th with a live radio transmission. In the weeks leading up to the end of the game, players were encouraged to visit real world locations for Apollo Bars, chocolate treats that held special codes on their wrappers which were supposed to lead players to the last section of the game, but instead, were simply, “attached to a time function, so the amount of codes entered were just a function of time until the end,” according to Ryan, a TLE player. Codes that did work, however, were found on various web sites, in magazines and through advertisements, and those codes led to video snippets when, reassembled in the correct order, gave players answers about the TV show’s mythology, including the importance of “the numbers” within the context of the show. Overall, the experience was appreciated by the majority of its participants, but some felt that the interactivity waned in the latter stages of the game, leading to a drop in interest. There are rumors about another TLE installment to begin later this year, when the TV show takes a short hiatus in the U.S. and Canada, so keep your eyes and ears open if you are Lost fan.

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PICNIC ’06 Cross Media Week Is Here!

Well, it is finally here – PICNIC ’06 is mere days away, and we have three ARGN community members at the conference, ready to report on events as they unfold. Sean C. Stacey (SpaceBass) and Brooke Thompson (imbri), long-time ARG community members and contributing writers to ARGN, are on location in Amsterdam and are eagerly anticipating the opening of the event later today (or tomorrow, depending on what time zone you are in). Joining them as an interpreter and associate is Daniël van Gool (giskard) who we are very fortunate to have on board for this project. ARGN is once again proud to be an official network partner of PICNIC ’06 Cross Media Week and we hope that any of you who are in attendance are able to catch up with Sean, Brooke and Daniël in their travels over the next few days.

If you’d like to keep tabs on the crew and want to get in touch with them, they have set up a thread at the unFiction forums dedicated to social gatherings at PICNIC (click here). If you can’t make it to see them or the event, check back here in the next few days, as we should have updates soon.

Scheduled Maintenance = Down Time

Here’s a FYI: Our host has scheduled maintenance for tonight which will result in our site being down for the duration of the work, which they say will be between 30 and 45 minutes. The work will begin at 10pm PDT (1 am EDT).

I Left My… Cube? in San Francisco?

Another large-scale organized event for Perplex City is taking place tomorrow in San Francisco, California, hot on the heels of the almost-worldwide release of the fourth and final wave of Season One puzzle cards, which took place on July 31st. To help build up the hype machine for this event, the creative forces at Mind Candy Design have teamed up with buy.com and 1UP.com as official partners — there’s even a mini-game and Club at 1UP (http://von.1up.com and http://officialperplexcity-club.1up.com, respectively).

The event coincides with a plot development where the ‘Third Power’ has severed the link between our world and the world in which Perplex City exists, and players can expect this get-together to be a task-oriented affair. According to the Mind Candy Emergency website, “At 11am PDT on Saturday (7pm in the UK), (Mind Candy) be giving an emergency briefing both online at this website and at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco, detailing what needs to be done.” Will the participants save the day and be victorious against the Third Power evil-doers? Probably. In any case, it sounds like a heck of a way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and we encourage those in attendance to write in with your reactions and summaries of the day’s events for a follow-up early next week!

Editor’s Note: We are not suggesting that the Receda Cube will be found in San Francisco. It’s just a funny title, people.

PICNIC ’06 Cross Media Week

As we announced earlier this week through our Announcement Email list, the Alternate Reality Gaming Network is proud to be named as a network partner for the PICNIC ’06 Cross Media Week event. PICNIC ’06 is Amsterdam’s new annual event focused on creativity in cross media content and technology, specifically in the fields of entertainment and communication. The event will take place from September 27 – 29 at the Westergasfabriek, a cultural facility located in a former gas factory in Amsterdam. PICNIC ’06 will include a conference for paying delegates as well as a public program which includes lectures, an exhibition, art installations and parties. PICNIC ’06 is being supported by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the City of Amsterdam and a variety of corporate and service partners. For complete information about the event, visit www.crossmediaweek.org.

PICNIC ’06 organisers are expecting approximately 1000 delegates from Europe, North America and Asia. Speakers will include top creatives and entrepreneurs such as Michael B. Johnson, Moving Picture Group Lead at Pixar Animation Studios, Simon Guild, President and Chief Executive of MTV Networks Europe, John de Mol, Co-Founder of Endemol and Founder of Talpa, Craig Newmark, Founder of craigslist, Philip Rosedale, Founder of Linden Lab/Second Life, Jamie Kantrowitz, Senior VP Marketing Europe at MySpace, Lorraine Twohill, Marketing Director in Europe for Google, Marko Ahtisaari, Director of Design Strategy, Nokia, Reinier Evers, Founder of Trendwatching.com, Dan Gillmor, Founder and Director of the Center for Citizen Media, Marc Canter, Founder and CEO of Broadband Mechanics, Joseph Jaffe, Author of “Life after the 30-Second Spot”, Matt Locke, Head of Innovation at BBC New Media & Technology, Emile Aarts, Vice President and Scientific Program Director at Philips Research Laboratories, and many more. You can read more about the network partners at the PICNIC ’06 web site.

If you want to attend the event, we have great news for you. As a network partner, we are able to pass on a discount to our subscribers for three-day passes as well as single-day passes. Simply register by clicking here, then when prompted, use the promotion code provided to you through the Announcement List (click here to subscribe, if you haven’t already). That will enable you to get a total conference pass for € 500 plus VAT (normal rate: € 750 plus VAT), or a day pass for € 300 (good for either Thursday, September 28th or Friday, September 29th).

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Eon8 Activate!

eon8.jpgWhen something pops up on the radar with enough force to bog down an entire message forum, we generally sit up and take notice. Today, eon8 is the web site that is shaking the ARG world, and it has a familiar feeling to it. If you are lucky enough to be able to access the site (traffic jams are just as nasty on the Internet as in real life, I guess) you will notice the countdown (currently at 0d:01h:30m:37s) as well as a Project Status (currently X13600 Imminent, whatever that means). A link to deployment logs reveals a lot of alphanumeric strings, while the Deployment Tracker is a lovely little link… that I can’t seem to access, yet. Many of the links on the front page go to a password-protected subdomain as well, evidence that this may indeed turn into an ARG.

All of that aside, this is another occasion where it’s not entirely certain what this site has in store, but with the amount of attention it has received so far, we’ll keep an eye out and update when we find out what the X13600 is going on.

:: Discussion at Unfiction forums (connection may be slow due to high volume of traffic)

Update!
So, as it turns out, the entire thing was a social experiment. At 12:00 AM EST, the site reloaded. These are excerpts of the text from the eon8.com site, under a link called “Reveal The Truth”:

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Yo Ho Ho, ‘Tis the Dead Man’s Tale

deadmanstale.jpgSometimes, ARG doesn’t mean alternate reality gaming. Sometimes, ARG means ARRRRRG, the bellow from the pit of the pirate’s stomach that sends scurvy dogs runnin’ and strikes fear in the hearts of the fisherman who sail the… alright, so our piratespeak isn’t very good. In any event, Dead Man’s Tale has led us to raise the Jolly Roger and lose ourselves in the world of Billy Bones, through the magic of Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger software. A promotion for the upcoming movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, the IM-based game allows you to add Billy as a friend, and starting a conversation with the skeletal character moves you further into the story with text scripts and fun games and puzzles that load within the messenger window. One of the interesting elements of this game is the ability to pair up with a friend and tackle the various challenges together, while an accompanying MSN Spaces site holds important information which ties in with the messenger experience.

Normally, we wouldn’t obsess over a pirate-themed messenger interactive experience, but this one has a special connection to the ARG universe. We received a rumor that this might be another venture by the creative forces at 42 Entertainment, a theory which we think we’ve proven to be true by looking at Billy’s MSN profile. Of course, we might just be wrong on this, but coincidences are rare these days, and bee keeping seems an odd interest for those in the pillaging and plundering profession. Even with the connection to 42, there is no indication that this is the beginning of any alternate reality game campaign, but based on initial game play, it’s a fun way to add marketing hype to the Disney blockbuster set to hit theaters on July 7. So, grab your swords and log into the world of Bones and his swashbuckling hi-jinks.

Editor’s Note: We found this link a few minutes ago, so our suspicions were right. Yarr.

Catching The Wish: Large and In Charge

ctw_comic.jpgOne month ago, we were happy to send out a Game Alert about Catching The Wish, the sequel to the 2003 alternate reality game Chasing The Wish. In the weeks since that announcement, the game has exploded onto computer screens everywhere with multiple websites, a rich and engrossing storyline, and interactivity that has added layer upon layer of immersive game play for the players following the story of Dale Sprague and his life-changing wish. The ARG is also tied in with Chasing The Wish: Book One, the first in a series of four comic books based on the storyline originally created by Dave Szulborski, who designed the first CTW and has since worked on projects like Art of the Heist and Who Is Benjamin Stove.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of the comic book last month, and even though I am not necessarily a fan of comics, the writing and artistic design were enough to keep me turning pages. With a script written by Jason Stackhouse, art by P. Emerson Williams and Jessica Kaos, and an overall creative vision by James Curcio, the comic is visually entertaining while delivering a concise and thrilling story. Book One is available through online venues, such as Indyplanet and New Fiction Publishing.

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Digital Communities 2006 Conference

dc06.jpgIn three days, the Digital Communities conference will be taking place in Bristol, UK. Clare Reddington, the project manager for the conference, was kind enough to give us a heads-up about the event, as well as a special promotional rate for those of you interested in attending! Here’s what Clare had to say about the gaming segment of the conference:

Broadband, mobile devices and wireless connectivity have transformed the world of gaming from a solitary sofa-based pursuit to a multi-player, multi-media community forum. From Google’s Da Vinci Code Quest to the labyrinth of forums, fake websites and additional content that exist to solve the mysteries of ABC drama Lost, increasingly sophisticated consumer marketing campaigns are contributing to the blurring of lines between gaming, media and real life. This session explores how the latest incarnation of the gaming phenomena attracts a broader demographic and is creating virtual communities who share knowledge, pool resources and establish new markets.

Speakers for the gaming discussion (called All In The Game) include Hugh Hancock, the Chief Executive of Strange Company (Machinima Production Company), Maurice Wheeler of Digital Outlook (represents Xbox 360), and Dan Hon, the Chief Operating Officer of a little company we’ve heard of once or twice before — Mind Candy. If you are new to alternate reality gaming, Mind Candy is the company producing the Perplex City ARG, which we continue to watch closely as the search for the Receda Cube carries on.

As far as that promotional rate goes, here’s the scoop: ARGN has secured a special 10% discount for the Digital Communities Communities Conference. To book tickets at the discounted price of £89, phone Watershed Box Office on 0117 927 5100 quoting ARGN. We really appreciate the offer Digital Communities has given us and our readership, and encourage you to book your tickets soon.

We’re Four! Let’s Eat Cake!

ARGNWhile things are simmering on medium heat in the world of Alternate Reality Gaming (we are in the midst of an in-depth look into Catching The Wish, so look for that in the next few days), we’d like to toot our own horn for a brief moment. In June 2002, “The Godfather” Steve Peters launched this site as a place where people could hang out and talk. Today, the Alternate Reality Gaming Network is not only alive and kicking, but taking great strides towards the future. There are a few projects that are being explored for development, including the ARG Archive and podcast interviews, so we hope our fifth year of existence proves to be another great year. Thanks go out to all of you who keep coming back and supporting our site!

Calling All ARG Academia

academics.jpgWith the Alternate Reality Gaming Special Interest Group whitepaper still in development, we have a request from our friend Christy Dena who writes extensively about ARG at her blog Cross-Media Entertainment:

Needed: Academics who have investigated Alternate Reality Games

I’m writing a section on ARGs and Academia for the upcoming International Game Developers Association Alternate Reality Game Special Interest Group Whitepaper (IGDA ARG SIG). I’m after approaches from all fields using all sorts of methodologies, and by researchers at different levels of candidacy and postdoctoral status. Since there are many investigations in development around the world I’m including unpublished insights and findings along with published ones.

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Perplex City Video Competition Heats Up

pxc_film.jpgPlayers of Perplex City have been hard at work this month on submissions for a video contest, and recently, submissions have made their way onto YouTube, a popular online video streaming service. As we told you earlier this month, the video contest is part of a campaign to promote the city which is central to the ongoing alternate reality game, entering its fourteenth month of continuous game play. While ARGN is definitely not in the business of film criticism, I personally viewed all 35 that were up for viewing and found a few that were funny, some that were extremely well-made, and one or two entries that were rather…. interesting. Here are my (completely unofficial) must-see picks:

  • Private Eye – The ARGN Editor’s Pick, if only for the included line “If she knew, she wasn’t telling me. She wasn’t telling anyone anymore.” Love it.
  • Hitchhikers Guide to Perplex City – A close second place. Very good use of GUI.
  • The Quest for The Cube mini-series – parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Proof positive that good things come in multiple episodes, and our third place pick, cumulatively. The ball in part four made me chuckle incessantly, but the freeze frame in part 5 did me in for good.

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ARG, German Style: Rettet den Fußball

brenecke.jpg
Our good friend Patrick Möller over at ARGR has tipped us off to what might be the first alternate reality game to originate in Germany. It launched on May 18th, and is called Rettet den Fußball which, loosely translated, means “Save the Football”. According to Patrick, the story involves a professor who finds seven statues on an archaeological excavation that look like footballers (soccer players) and dancers. Using various communication venues, players will be sent on the trail of thieves who steal all but one of the statues — and there might just be a prize at the end of the game. The game has already received press coverage in Germany at the Deutsche Telekom web site, and Patrick has articles up at his ARG news site as well.

With the help of online translator services, the game could feasibly be followed by non-German speakers, so it’s worth taking a look at. The group behind the game, Gastfreunde, is made up of students and is quite open about the project, so we can assume that the effort has been made to make this an excellent experience. We certainly wish them well on their first journey behind the curtain.

Game Alert: Catching The Wish

ctw2.JPGCatching The Wish, the sequel to Chasing The Wish, the successful alternate reality game that ran in 2003, has launched. While details are still coming in, there has already been email interaction and discovery of new web sites. We will bring you more as the day progresses, but if you want in on the ground floor of an ARG, today is your day.

:: Discussion at the UnFiction forums

syst3m, We Hardly Knew Ye

syst3m.jpgOften, when we report on a game that has started and completed within a two week time period, it’s not great news — it usually indicates some sort of meltdown or premature departure from the Alternate Reality Gaming landscape. Today is different, though, as we learned that syst3m, a game that launched a scant eight days ago, wrapped up earlier today. While we didn’t have a chance to experience the game play first hand, we did see the end-game video, and were thoroughly impressed with the production values. Regardless of whether or not this is a grassroots campaign, as has been speculated at the unfiction forums, the game creators seem to have done their homework in creating a fun gaming experience.

Here’s what we can tell you: The game launched innocently enough through emails sent out by a group calling themselves the Tarot Terrorists. From there, the game introduced GLOBAL (self-described as “the ONLY telecommunications, Networking and media solution in the world”) and many, many puzzles of varying difficulty. By solving the puzzles and interacting with characters in the story, players were able to maneuver through to today’s ending. We’re not going to spoil it for you, as it appears that all of the original content is still unchanged and available for viewing, so “replaying” the game is an option for those who want to know more.

Where does this all lead? According to the META information page , this is part of a larger ARG called Arcana. As well, the end of the end-game video list another web address that doesn’t reveal too much… yet. We’ll definitely be watching this site for future updates, and will do our best to report on developments as they happen — seeing as how leaving this story alone for a mere eight days turned this article from an introductory news piece to an end-game report.

ReGenesis Featured on Podcast

regen2.jpgThe ReGenesis extended-reality game found itself back in the mainstream spotlight two weeks ago when Leo Laporte and Amber MacArthur interviewed Evan Jones, creative director of Xenophile Media, the force behind the Alternate Reality Game that runs concurrent with the television series. In the podcast interview, Jones outlined how the game works and talked with the hosts about ARG, the ‘collective effort’ and the interactivity of the game (as previously reported here). You can download the episode through iTunes or at the Inside the Net podcast website.

Inside the Net is part of the popular TWiT.tv network of audio and video podcasts. Laporte and MacArthur are both hosts of Call For Help, a regular television series on G4techTV in Canada and the How-To channel in Australia.

Review: The Lost Experience

** Editor’s Note: The original publication of this article had an incorrect hyperlink to The Hanso Foundation web site. The link has been corrected and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

hansofoundation.orgIt’s been a little over a week since the launch of The Lost Experience, a launch in the form of prominent television advertisements for The Hanso Foundation. Since the first commercial spot reached television sets across the globe, the trailhead site has undergone a few plot-advancing changes, and two new sites (Gary Troup’s site and subLYMONal) have been connected to the game. As well, an official insider’s blog has popped up on the ABC Television web space. So far, the game has performed well, and updates to the Hanso site give players the sense that the game is something they should be watching every day. This is one Alternate Reality Game a lot of people have been waiting for, and it has opened the door to ARGs for an entirely new audience.

The game has become very popular in a relatively short amount of time, mostly because of the exposure it has been given. However, finding the site and calling the Hanso company hotline are only the first steps into the game, and so the game designers have had to focus on how to keep the player base interested enough to keep coming back. Their answer? Make the Experience easily accessible, but with enough content to satisfy even the most voracious fan. So far, so good — the sites are fairly easy to digest but offer underlying layers of complex material giving the die-hard fanatics material to theorize about. By feeding the plot elements to the masses bit by bit, the information is hardly overwhelming, even to the casual watcher. In the end, regardless of a player’s commitment level, the game delivers a rich, interwoven back-story that is starting to answer some of the questions about the show.

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Alternate Reality Gaming SIG Whitepaper

study.jpgAdam Martin, who is the chair of the IGDA ARG Special Interest Group mailing list, is looking for a few good writers. Specifically, the task at hand is to create a whitepaper document that would help to “promote and explain the genre to a wide audience, and also to get wide exposure for your own writing on the subject.” Adam explains:

We’re looking for submissions on the following topics. Depending upon the depth of the topic, you should expect to write between 3 and 10 pages. Submissions should be no more than 300 words, and include both a short summary and also a breakdown of the content you intend to write about.

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Assault on 13th Labour

This came in three weeks ago from the fine folks at Assault on 13th Labour, a movement dedicated to solving Perplex City card #251 :

Perplex City, an Alternate Reality Game based around puzzle cards and storytelling, features one card that has yet to be cracked: an RC-64 encrypted plaintext. We’ve created a distributed client and are looking for people with spare cycles to lend a hand. The program requires .NET or Mono (it works on Linux and OS X, as well as XP). Prizes are on offer for the first solve!

Word on the street is that this looks to be as tough a puzzle as the Alternate Reality Gaming community has come across, and hopefully, with a few more volunteers, the card can finally be solved. Perhaps a little history will be made along the way.

Tweaking ARGN / New Staff

gears2.jpgIn an ongoing mission to keep this site functional and relevant, we will be making some minor changes to ARGN in the next few weeks. Most of which will go unnoticed by the untrained eye, but some will be evident. The content and focus of the site will remain the same. We have already implemented two changes — the move to a new version of our publishing software, and the addition of comments (time-limited and moderated) to our articles, which started on April 11. We appreciate your ongoing support as we tinker with the way the site operates — feel free to contact us if you have issues with the web site functionality.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to recognize three new staff members who have joined us in the past month — Will Bagby, Marie Lamb, and Michelle Senderhauf. All three are long-time ARG community members with experience behind the curtain as game developers, and we are very fortunate to have them on board.

Studio Cypher To Host IRC Chat

studiocyphers2.jpgAs mentioned last week, a new Alternate Reality Game of sorts is emerging from a company called Studio Cypher. Since the discovery of the game, many members on the Unfiction message boards have been keeping up with ongoing events, so when the web site changed on April 14th, it did not go unnoticed. The site now has two branches — a main section with information on the company itself, including information on previously developed ARGs Ares Station and IDEAS Fest 1906, and a second section on their new game/multi-player novel Cyphers.

The company is taking a slightly different approach with this venture, and has stated that players will be charged a “nominal fee” to become an agent in the game. While the pay-to-play gaming model is hardly a new phenomenon, it is uncommon to find the model applied to Alternate Reality Gaming. However, as the company has been successful with two previous ARG projects, perhaps this is a situation where the players can bank on a quality experience deserving of the fee. In any case, the game creators have announced a pre-game IRC chat which will address “how everything will work,” which will serve as a unique opportunity for players to address out-of-game concerns before the game goes live. The chat will take place on the Chat-solutions IRC network this Tuesday, April 18, at 8 pm Eastern (GMT-5).

Thanks to Magesteff at Unfiction for the information.

The DaVinci Code: Googlefied!

davinci_google.jpgThose of you longing for an Alternate Reality Game set in the universe of The DaVinci Code are in for a small, but somewhat satisfying treat. Google has rolled out a code quest tie-in with the upcoming film adaptation of the popular novel by Dan Brown, which involves fabulous fun and prizes for those lucky people in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

If you have read the novel, you’ll know that Brown used puzzles and visual trickery as the story progressed, and hopefully this campaign will offer more of the same. The quest doesn’t start until April 17, so we will take a more comprehensive look at the project once it goes live.

The Fifth Anniversary of The Beast

cloudmakerbig.jpgOn April 11, 2001, the murder of Evan Chan caught many people’s attention. Somehow, after the game wound down to an end 12 weeks later, there was the birth (or resurrection, or redefinition, depending on who you talk to) of an entirely new gaming genre we now know as Alternate Reality Gaming. For anyone who got a chance to play The Beast (go to www.cloudmakers.org for more information), the game that revolved around the story in the movie A.I., they were experiencing something that was exciting and new and encapsulating. Even as we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the beginning of The Beast, it’s easy to recall the characters, the puzzles, and the story that captured the imaginations of many and led the way towards a new frontier.

We would like to celebrate this occasion with you, and get your thoughts about what this anniversary means. So, we’re opening up the comment area for this article, in the hopes that our collective spirit brings back the feeling that so many felt when they became part of the Cloudmakers group. Whether you were a lurker or posted 10 messages a day to the Yahoo! group, or were even around at all, your comments are valuable. Please keep in mind that well will be moderating comments to eliminate inappropriate language, so be nice and respectful.

Editor’s Note – We are aware of the format issues concerning the Comments section, and are working hard to solve the problem. In the meantime, scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the comment text box.

Third Wave of Perplex City Cards

card-spread-72dpi.jpgIt’s been nine months since Perplex City opened its doors to the public, asking for assistance in finding the Receda Cube. Now, with the third wave of playing cards available, players have more clues to help them in their search for the cube — and with it, the $200,000 reward that accompanies its safe return. Players were also treated to a visually stunning redesign of the Perplex City web site in the past week, which has added some valuable resources that open the door for people interested in getting involved with PXC for the first time.

“The world of Perplex City is deeper and more complex than anyone imagined,” stated Michael Smith, CEO of Mind Candy Design, in a press statement released this past week. You don’t have to look very hard to get a sense of what Smith is talking about, as one of the hot new features of the newly renovated web site is the new “Story So Far” section. In this part of the site, information is given that allows all players, whether new to the game or not, a chance to catch up on the events that have taken place so far. It is large in scale and loaded with content, showing that Perplex City isn’t just puzzle cards and blogs.

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The Joke’s On Us!

laughter.jpgNothing is more humbling than when a thoughtful April Fool’s Day prank goes awry. And, in this case, by “goes awry” we mean “bombs terribly”. You see, we had developed this great trail for April Fool’s day, which started with our April 1st announcement. Since the article talked about changes on this site, most people assumed that when they found that the link to the ARG Graveyard had changed to a custom 404 page that the case was solved. This was not the case, and maybe it was bad timing for me to make the decision to roll out that update at the same time. As a wise man told us earlier today, there’s a subtle sense of irony that our fake ARG failed miserably. But, because there was a bunch of work put into it from us to you, we’d like to take you through it anyway.

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A Very Important Message From ARGN

At this time, we would like to make a very personal statement for everyone who follows this site or has toiled in our archives from time to time.

Playing an Alternate Reality Game is hard work, but its even harder reporting on one. Real life takes a back seat to the importance of getting the news out to our valued reader base. I’ve personally made many sacrifices — skipping hip replacement surgery, for example — to make sure that the word about ARG gets out there to the masses. Love is, and always has been, my motivation, but now it’s time to come clean.

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Find Araya Wraps Up

Find Araya, a grassroots Alternate Reality Game that began in late January, came to an end last week, and from what we gather, the experience was satisfying for players of the game until the end, when the game ended suddenly. We caught up with Mountain Girl, an UnFiction forums member who was one of the most active participants in the game, and she had this to offer:

The premise of Find Araya was just as the name implied. Araya Benedict was missing. An anonymouse note led detective James Pearson to the case. The note described a young girl missing for over a month and pled for help finding her.

After searching diligently for any links to who Araya was, the team was led to Ditch Media. The company appeared to be a group specializing in the creation of alternate realities in order to secure a better future for a subject the company deemed needy. The alternate reality would not be revealed to the “subject” but instead completely take them by surprise and change their life forever.

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ReGenesis – Season Two to Debut

regen2.jpgWhen ReGenesis hit the airwaves last year, people were not sure what to expect with the “extended reality” that was built for the show. After all, this was the first time that a Canadian-made television series had attempted to try anything as large in scale as an Internet-based companion adventure. The end result, to the delight of many fans, was an interesting and immersive experience that showcased the talents of the team at Xenophile Media, creators of the game. Tonight, season two of ReGenesis will debut on The Movie Network/Movie Central, and with it comes a new extended reality game. This season, the game will hit the ground running, starting with tonight’s episode. Players will be able to participate on many different levels, and the worldwide audience will have greater access to key game elements, making it more accessible to people who are unable to view the series on television.

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I Love Bees Two

ilb2.jpgRumors have been running rampant on various gaming forums of late concerning the emergence of ilovebees2.com, which popped up on our radar sometime last month. While speculation about what the site might be connected to is a hot topic at the UnFiction forums, we have information from a source that the campaign is not connected or related to 4orty 2wo Entertainment, the company behind the original I Love Bees game. As well, Bungie has offically denied any involvement with the web site (3rd paragraph of link). Current speculation points to a fan-based game related to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which ships on March 20th, as much of the content is related to the Elder Scrolls universe.

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PCAG: New York

pcag.jpgThe Perplex City Academy Games were not just a phenomenon in London. A few weeks ago, there was an equally entertaining event on the other side of the Pacific in New York City. Lucky for us, we have a first-hand account of what transpired at the event from UnFiction community member (and active PXC player) Scott Myers. Here’s what he had to say:

We played 3 Gambits of a perplexian scissor-paper-rock game called Roundabout. This was quite silly, but set everyone in a jolly mood, and got people up out of their chairs and talking and laughing and having fun.

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Another Contest… Ends Prematurely

anothercontest.jpgIt’s always disappointing to see an Alternate Reality Game pull up roots and disappear before its intended endgame. So far we have seen a handful casualties in 2006, and we are adding Another Contest Worth Entering to that list. Rumblings of an implosion came late last week, when UnFiction community member Chewy shared an email he received from the ACWE Puppetmaster team. While the email originally states that the team would be taking a two week hiatus to re-evaluate the situation, the latest word is that the game is, indeed, over.

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Another PMChat Announced

puppetmaster.jpgAfter several successful chats last fall, the aspiring Puppetmasters hanging around the unfiction forums tricked Brooke Thompson into setting up a very ambitious online chat series aimed at helping potential Puppetmasters, whether they’re looking to develop grassroots (indie) or professional games. The two month long series (every Sunday until April 25) will follow game development from the earliest stages of team development to game launch to the rising of the curtain at the end.

For those unfamiliar with Brooke, she is an experienced Puppetmaster most widely known for her work on Metacortechs, Lockjaw, and the “quickstart guide”. She is also a contributing staff member here at Alternate Reality Gaming News. She is someone who is constantly “in the know” in matters involving ARG, and this is a great opportunity for those out there who want to take a serious look at creating and developing an ARG.

Puppetmasters, both experienced and aspiring, are encouraged to attend and to bring their questions, thoughts, and experiences with them. As always, privacy and discretion will be addressed and if there are points or questions that one would like to raise anonymously, you are welcome to forward them to Brooke before or during the chat. Players are also welcome as games are ultimately designed with their interests in mind.

Chats will be held in #pmchat on irc.chat-solutions.org at 2100 UTC (4:00PM EST) every Sunday. If you do not have an IRC client, you can always head over to our Java chat platform to join in. For more information, such as the schedule and how to access the chat, please see the #pmchat announcement on the Unfiction forums.

Renata Isle Goes Live

renata.jpgWelcome to the island. What started as an email has now turned into Renata Isle, a new grassroots ARG. The game went live yesterday with new links appearing on an in-game security site (which, at the moment, is unavailable). There was a very active audience playing the pre-game, so here’s hoping the real deal doesn’t disappoint.

Note: The trailhead site is not working properly in Firefox browsers. For those having difficulties accessing the main site, you can get to it directly here.

:: Discussion at UnFiction

Stranger Productions

strangeradventures.jpgFor those of you who want to get in on the ground floor of a new and exciting gaming experience, this might just be the thing you need. Thanks to a tip, ARGN has learned of an “online role-playing game” called Stranger Adventures that will launch on Sunday, February 19th with a pilot series that will last a week. Shortly after the pilot series concludes, the Stranger Adventures series will continue it’s first “season” in 10 installments, to be offered bi-weekly. For players in the United States, there is an added bonus to playing the game in the form of a cash prize for those lucky enough to crack a 10-digit code central to the story.

According to the tip we received, “The weeklong pilot, as well as the following series, will unfold Sunday through Saturday. Each episode will feature its own central character (the “Stranger”) and clues to a 10-digit code that the Stranger needs the players’ help to identify. The clues will not require any specialized expertise and will piece together like a puzzle. The first player to crack the code will win the grand prize of $25,000; the second prize of $10,000 will be divided among every viewer who breaks the code before time runs out. The value of the prizes will progress weekly as the audience grows.”

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Alternate Reality Radio

arr.jpgOn Friday, February 10, a new show popped up on the rotation at the Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania radio station. WLHU Toxic Radio was host to “Alternate Reality Radio” which is hosted by well-known community member The Creative Embassy (aka Clinton Judy). On the debut show, the discussion topic was “What is an ARG” and, from what we hear, the program was very interesting. The show also includes a lively music selection.

You can listen live each and every Friday at 5 pm EST (10:00 GMT) by going to their Shoutcast and listening to the streaming audio with your favorite player.

Pherotones – This is *Really* Not a Game?

myra.jpgIf it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, then it must be a duck, right? Wrong, according to Pherotones Intimacy Expert Myra Vanderhood. After we reported on what appears to be the start of an Alternate Reality Game, we received this email from the good doctor:

Dear ARGN Community,

Thank you so much for your budding interest in Pherotones, the amazing ring tone secret from Denmark that can spark sexual attraction.

It has come to my attention that some members of the ARG community are carefully scrutinizing the Pherotonal Record in the mistaken belief that it holds clues to a new, evolving Alternate Reality Game.

While I am flattered by your attention, I am sorry to say that there is no game afoot.

Pherotones.com is not the portal of a game, and my weblog, “Discovering Pherotones” contains nothing of interest beyond my own thoughts and impressions as I gather evidence to prove my hypothesis.

You will not find a Puzzlemaster like Dave Szulborski behind this particular curtain, and there is no Ian Yarborough here for us to moon over.

The only way to actually participate in the Pherotones experience is to try them for yourself, and, if you wish, to report your “anecdotal evidence” to my weblog, “Discovering Pherotones” (pherotones.blogspot.com). There is no prize offered, and the only thing you stand to gain from your input is the satisfaction of knowing you have, in a small way, advanced the cause of Pherotonal Science.

Thank you for your attention,

Dr. Myra Vanderhood, Intimacy Expert and Founder of Pherotones.com

So, will this end up being another Redkore fiasco, or is this the start of something big? For now, we’re content to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

ARGFest 2006 – Chicago, Baby!

argfest06.jpgAfter weeks of deliberation and debate, the final results are in, and it looks like ARGFest 5: Chicago will be officially starting on July 21st, and carrying on through the weekend to the 23rd. If you haven’t yet heard of ARGFest, it is a social event geared towards the Alternate Reality Gaming community that has previously been held in Las Vegas, Orlando, Vancouver and New York. The typical ARGFest weekend includes meet-and-greet events, dinners, nighttime activities (with the occasional nighttime beverage) and, on occasion, organized ARG-themed activities.

Last year’s ARGFest IV in New York set a new standard for an ARG community event, as organizers planned a full slate for the three day festival. Guest speakers such as Jane McGonigal and members of the Art of the Heist creative team were invited to give presentations to those in attendance, and those talks were eventually made into a DVD and encoded to video files downloadable through the Torrent network. As well, the event committee helped to put together a real world puzzle trail that had groups of eager participants travelling all over the Big Apple.

It is not yet known what kinds of surprises lie in wait in the hot summer of Chi-town, but you can be sure that everyone who makes it down to the Windy City will be blown away by the experience. For more information, there is a thread at the Unfiction forums and a wiki to keep you updated.

Is There Gold In Those Hills?

goldrush.jpgFans of Survivor, The Apprentice, and Rock Star: INXS will know the name Mark Burnett. He is one of the most successful television producers in recent times, churning out hit reality series after hit reality series. Now, it seems that Burnett wants to apply his talents to another niche — interactive Web programs.

Burnett has teamed up with AOL to bring the treasure-hunt game show “Gold Rush” to the Internet. Details about the game are sketchy at best, but it will require cryptic puzzles to be solved in real-time. Contestants will be able to have “constant interaction with the show’s central treasure hunt,” according to Burnett, and the prize is nothing to scoff at – $1.6 million in gold will be available in 13 locations across the United States.

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Perplex City Lands in America

ascendancy-point.jpgPerplex City will be taking another leap forward in the very near future, as the PXC universe will be on display at the Toy Fair in New York City from February 12-15 (Booth #6160, for those interested on visiting). Mind Candy Design, the creators of the card-based Alternate Reality Game, are currently putting together a media blitz for American audiences — a new press release is heralding the “launch of Perplex City in North America.”

While the cards have been available at select U.S. toy stores for months, Mind Candy CEO Michael Smith promises that they will make it “much easier to get access to our cards in North America, so everyone now has the opportunity to get immersed in Perplex City.” With an increase in the number of retailers selling the puzzle cards, the community of 13,000 registered at the Perplex City forums should see a surge of American players in the coming months.

The world of PXC keeps expanding — there is now a player-generated map of Perplex City in the style of Google Maps, and the aforementioned PXC Forums are full of activity. With the upcoming live events in New York and London coming soon, it looks like 2006 will be another big year for Sente and his cast of characters.

The Composer & Renata Isle

renata.jpgTwo weeks ago, selected members of the UnFiction message boards were sent mysterious emails from someone calling themselves “The Composer”. The emails were quickly solved — each email contained part of a coded message — and the game was on. Over the course of eleven short days, players were led to a security site, interacted via Instant Messaging, and were introduced to the story of Renata Isle.

As it turns out, the mystery has been solved, for now. On an in-game site, players have learned that they were part of a pre-game activity for upcoming ARG “Renata Isle”. The explanation promises bigger and better things to come on the “17th of the second,” which is assumed to mean February 17th of this year. There is also a teaser page that provides some basic details for the upcoming game.

From reactions in the discussion thread, this pre-game was quite enjoyable to be a part of. We will check back in on this on the 17th and see what happens with “Renata Isle”.

Elan Lee of 42 Entertainment to Appear on G4TV

elan.jpgARGN has learned that Elan Lee of 42 Entertainment will be appearing on the G4 Video Game Television network tomorrow (January 26th). He will be interviewed by Kevin Pereira on Attack of the Show, which first airs at 7 pm, with repeats on Friday at 3 am, 9 am and 3 pm (all times EST). Accompanied by Shane Small, the two will discuss EDOC Laundry, among other topics. EDOC, for the uninformed, is a new clothing company offering coded clothes with an Alternate Reality Gaming tie-in.

Elan Lee has been a part of 42 Entertainment since its inception, and was instrumental in developing and producing some of the most popular ARGs of all time, including The Beast, I Love Bees, and Last Call Poker.

Orbital Colony Puppetmaster Chat

orbicon.jpgAs is tradition with the endgame of a successful Alternate Reality Game, the Puppetmasters of Orbital Colony have announced a post-game Puppetmaster chat to be held on Saturday, Jan. 28th. The chat will start at 7:00 pm EST (GMT -5) in the #inquiringminds channel on the Chat-Solutions IRC network. We have set up a linked chat page here at ARGN, located here, from which you can access the chat and, quite possibly, get a chance to ask your questions about the game and the experience.

From the announcement by bagsbee, one of the PMs: Since Orbital Colony started out as a training ARG, I would definitely encourage everyone to attend, even if you didn’t play the game, and especially if you are an aspiring PuppetMaster. Pretty much everyone on the team started out with little or no PM or BTS experience, and we learned a lot along the way. We would love to share our experiences with you, and answer any questions you might have.

We’ll see you all on the 28th — space elevators are optional.

Preview: Find Araya

The 2006 batch of Alternate Reality Games is upon us, and coming soon to a computer (and telephone, and cell phone, and real world mail box) near you is Find Araya, set to launch on January 26th. While not much is known about the game at this point, action will center around helping a detective locate a woman named Araya. The game has already established in-game forums and a chatroom for players to talk with the detective character, so we expect this to be a very interactive experience. Currently, there is a pre-game element that allows players to do some preliminary research and preview what Find Araya has in store, and there is already an active group at UnFiction working on the case. Head on over to get involved — perhaps you will be the one to Find Araya?

The Tulse Luper Journey

tulseluper.jpgIf you had to archive your entire life history into suitcases, how many do you think you would fill? Tulse Luper needed 92. Tulse, a recurring character in projects by film director Peter Greenaway, is currently appearing in an ambitious game by production company Submarine. We first caught wind of the Tulse Luper Suitcases back in 2003 at UnFiction when it was released at the Cannes Film Festival. This new incarnation of the journey certainly appears to have several key Alternate Reality Gaming elements to it, including collaborative community play, puzzles, and interactive online gameplay.

From the tip we received, The Tulse Luper Journey is free and will “continue to grow for the next 18 months.” If you are interested in going on “an extensive journey through Europe’s 20th century history” by becoming “a detective determined to reconstruct the eventful life of… Tulse Luper, who led a life shrouded in mystery and doubt,” then you should definitely check it out — from what we’ve read about the game, people are really getting into it.

Welcome to Push… North Carolina?

pushnc.jpgTake a trip down memory lane, back to a simpler time — a time when Alternate Reality Gaming was still in its infancy. In 2002, ABC television featured a little show called Push, Nevada that caught the attention of the ARG community because the series was designed to include a puzzle that, when solved, would earn one person a million dollars. Unfortunately, the show came to a premature end after only a handful of episodes.

Come back to the present and head over to Push, NC, a new game from CM: Gaming Complex. The site looks simple enough to navigate, but there are already some secrets to be discovered. Mysterious puzzles on secretive websites always earn a blip on the ARGN radar, and even if the game ends up being something other than an ARG, it looks like it could be a lot of fun to play anyway.

Sean Stewart, “Gaming Innovator”

seanstewart.jpgWhen you hear the name Sean Stewart, what comes to your mind first — author or puppetmaster? While most of the ARG community knows Stewart as one of the creative forces behind The Beast, ilovebees and Last Call Poker, a few were initially introduced to his work as a writer within his many novels, such as Nobody’s Son and Galveston. John Borland at c|net has picked up on the buzz surrounding Stewart and his impressive body of work, both in the literary world as well as the world of ARG, in a poignant article titled “A novelist turned gaming innovator“. It’s a great read, and has an interesting perspective from the ‘other side of the curtain’.

ARGFest NYC 2005 Resurrected!

nycdvd.jpgJust in time for the holiday season comes the online release of the ARGFest NYC 2005 DVD “How Do You Like Your Reality?”. Consisting of two torrent files (hosted by GreyLodge), the release was made possible by Dave Szulborski and Abacus Video Productions.

The files (available for download with your favorite .torrent program) include all of the presentations that took place at the Pennsylvania Hotel during the three day event, including:

* Perplex City by Mind Candy Ltd (with Michael Smith and Adrian Hon)
* The Art of the Heist by the PM team (with Mike Monello, Brian Cain, Brian Clark, Matt Fischvogt, Jim Gunshanan, Gabriel Georgeian, and Dave Szulborski)
* MetaCortechs by the PM team (with Steve Peters, Krystyn Wells, Brooke Thompson, and Sean Stacey)
* There is No Such Thing as an ARG (by special guest speaker Jane McGonigal)

There is a section which includes various pictures from ARG Fest NYC 2005, most of which were submitted by the attendees, as well as a “few special surprises!” So, if you missed the event, or simply want to reminisce, now is your chance to get your hands on these recordings.

By the way, in this writer’s humble opinion, what better way to introduce your friends and family to the wonderful world of ARG than by stuffing their stocking with a DVD copy of these presentations?

Another Contest Worth Entering?

anothercontest.jpgA new anonymous tip leads us (and, maybe, you too) to Another Contest Worth Entering where you (and, hopefully, us too) has a chance to win one of three fantabulous prizes! The difference between this and the garden variety annoying-pop-up-pyramid-scheme-scam-type web site? This one has a puzzle… which could mean nothing, or it could mean everything. In any case, while you try your hand at solving the puzzle, we’ll have to wait until at least February 6th, 2006 to see where this is going.

ARGN Moves To New Home

server.jpgThe Alternate Reality Gaming Network has a new home on the World Wide Web. We do not anticipate any disruptions in service, but if you happen to come across any problems with the site, please use our Contact page to let us know about the oversight.

One of the features of our new host is a locally-controlled ARGN Announcement List. If you were already on the list, you should be receiving an email in the next few hours with a verification link. If you were not already on the list, you can subscribe here.

Omnifam Wraps Up

omnifam.jpgPlayers of the Omnifam ARG found themselves at the end of the road today with the addition of a credits page on one of the in-game websites. The grassroots endeavor had been playing since May of this year, and was tied to the US television series ALIAS. Scanning through the list, it shows that the team of Puppetmasters includes people who have been on the other side of the curtain for previous ARGs, such as Acheron and ARGTalk.

ALIAS-themed ARGs have had a long history, with two previous “seasons” of games. The series started as a web puzzle in its first season, and morphed into an online adventure for the sequel, both of which were created and sponsored by ABC television. While this third season was a grassroots effort, it was much more interactive and contained more elements of a traditional ARG. Sadly, with the recent news of ABC’s decision to recently cancel ALIAS, the possibility of a fourth season is very much up in the air.

Reminder: Last Call Poker PM Chat

poker_hand.jpgA reminder to all interested parties that the post-game Puppetmaster chat for Last Call Poker is happening tonight at 7:00 pm PST. As we announced last week, the chat will be happening in the #lastcall chat room on the Chat-Solutions network.

The members of 42 Entertainment that are scheduled to be in attendance are:

  • Elan Lee: Lead Design
  • Sean Stewart: Lead Writer
  • Maureen McHugh: Writer
  • Steve Peters: Design
  • Patricia Pizer: Design
  • Jane McGonigal: Live Events Lead
  • Jim Stewartson: Technical Lead

We will see you in #lastcall tonight — it’s going to be a full house of fun!

Menace Media

menacemedia.jpgAbout a month ago, a mysterious Instant Message appeared on the screens of at least five UnFiction forum members, asking for help. Well versed in the way of the ARG, the membership found the trail to Menace Media, which has kept a dedicated force of ARGonauts busy with IM conversations, puzzles, and emails, all wrapped around an interesting story involving the misplaced Matzai people. Looks like it’s not too late to jump on board, so get in on this one before it’s too late.

Discussion at UnForums

Wiki hosted at Patmo

IRC Chat in #menacemedia hosted by Chat Solutions

ReGenesis: A Contest and Season Two

sciencesucks.jpgReGenesis, a well-received series being shown in Canada, has some exciting news for many, and some really exciting news for one person in particular. The big news for the masses is that the second season of ReGenesis is currently being filmed and will be ready for public consumption in 2006. With the sophomore season comes a brand new “extended reality” to compliment the story that takes place on-screen. While this is definitely great news for fans of the show, there’s more — one lucky Canadian is going to win the chance to have a walk-on role on the series! The folks at Xenophile Media have given players registered with the extended reality a chance to be flown in to Toronto and put on the set of the series. To enter, (1) be Canadian, and (2) go to the official contest website.

It seems that the fun just never stops with the hit Canadian television series. First, they debut the series on a prominent movie network and get people involved through its own ARG-style “extended reality”. Then, they re-run the series on a national network (and reset the extended reality for replay) during this fall TV season. Tack on the fact that they had one of the 10 most popular websites in a recent award show category, and one might say it was a pretty good year for ReGenesis and the team over at Xenophile. We hope that the second season is just as exciting as the first season was, and that the new extended reality brings in even more people to its wonderful world.

QU13E

qu13e.jpgAt the beginning of the month a trailhead was discovered by UnFiction member draghkar. Quickly, a few things were discovered about the site, including the use of Fibonacci numbers in the WhoIs registration information (a sign that shows that something was definitely afoot). Players who visited the site were quickly thrust into a world of keyword discovery, coded puzzles, email interaction and poetry. While the site is not new (registered in 2004), there has been up-to-date changes and character interaction in the past month. While we’re not quite sure what QU13E is (and even less sure as to how to pronounce it), here’s your heads-up to get involved with this sooner rather than later.

Last Call Poker PM Chat

poker_hand.jpgThis weekend marked the end of the highly successful Last Call Poker ARG, which culminated in a large real-world event taking place in Hollywood, California. ARGN, along with UnFiction, are pleased to announce that the LCP Puppetmaster team from 42 Entertainment will be stopping by for a live post-game chat on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 at 7:00 PM PST (10:00 pm EST, 03:00 GMT) on the Chat-Solutions IRC network.

The moderated chat will be taking place in the #lastcall chat room. Attendees will only be able to speak when asking questions. If you have a question and cannot attend the event, please feel free to post your question to the UnFiction forums or email it to ARGN using our Contact page.

PXC Live Event: A Mole Amongst Thee

PXC Live 01Last Saturday, Perplex City took to the streets in a real-world event that involved both a ground team and an online team. Starting with a trail on an in-game site, players had to coordinate efforts to track the Third Power and obtain a highly valuable keyword. However, after collecting all of the puzzles and meeting back at a central location, players discovered that there was a mole within their group. To top it all off, the mole made a daring escape via helicopter (yes, HELICOPTER) and players were left with what must have been one of the most exciting ARG experiences in their lives. Matthew Turnbull, an active participant on the ground team, gave us permission to reprint his account of the day’s events:

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ARGs in Now Playing Magazine

np3-cover.jpgRecently, our very own Steve Peters was part of an interview in Now Playing Magazine called “Meet the Puppetmasters”. Before you go off to your local convenience store in a mad panic, hoping to find the issue there on the magazine rack, check this out — Now Playing has decided to embed an ARG right in the magazine! Without saying too much, those of you who are lucky enough to get a copy of the magazine can look to the page where the article is found. From there, we’re told that there are a series of interactions that players can go through. Neat!

(There’s also a link on their website, and after trying 2267 ways 2 view the content, we had success. Maybe you can as well…)

Thanks to Now Playing Magazine for featuring ARGs in such an interesting article!

Sable & Shuck Winners

jonharker.jpgBelated congratulations go out to community members Wishi-San and Meak, who were two of the four winners in the Sable & Shuck ARG. A promotional device for Stella Artois beer, the Sable & Shuck ARG ran from September of 2004 until wrapping up in June of this year. Because the final puzzle was never solved, contest organizers announced earlier this month that they would split the grand prize of £10946 between the four that “were most worthy of the prize”. That means that Wishi-San and Meak each get a nice £2,736.50 slice of the pie. Bravo to them and the other two unidentified winners!

Another Mysterious Countdown

hex168.jpgNews articles at Team XBox and GameSpot (scroll down to Rumor #2), as well as an anonymous tip to ARGN, have led us to The Lutz World Report, a self-proclaimed “‘truth’ source of the Paranormal and Extraordinary.” But wait — what is that there? Is that… a countdown timer? Counting down to… sometime on October 18th? What could it all mean???

We all know how important countdown timers are in the world of Alternate Reality Gaming — who could forget the launches of I Love Bees and Metacortechs? At the same time, one shouldn’t forget non-ARGs like Our Colony and OrigenXBox360. The moral of the story, as it always is, is to wait and see. We’ll be watching to see what happens on Tuesday with cautious optimism.

Last Call Poker: A Full House?

poker_hand.jpg I know, I know — it’s been forever since we last talked about Last Call Poker. It’s definitely not because of lack of update information — we’ll speak to that in a few minutes. No, the problem is… I had to pry (that’s right, pry) myself away from the poker tables at LCP to make this update happen. So many of us here at ARGN are so thoroughly enjoying the game, that we’ve been setting this update aside while we won monster pots from players the world over. If this means that we’re all going to have to do some soul-searching (and major gambling detox) afterwards, then so be it. But enough of my lilly-livered sniveling — let’s get to the good stuff.

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Project Gateway 2 Ramps Up

40mouse.jpgThe sequel to Project Gateway is up and running, with a very slick design and some interesting real-world interaction thus far. Atrophied, a member of UnFiction’s forums, gave us a quick reference to all that has happened so far:

Clues from emails led players to a dead-drop at Providence College in Rhode Island on the 24th of September. The dead-drop gleaned a leaflet and CD containing an archive of the original PG1 website (including flash movies, audio files, etc.).

The next big event was an email from [email protected]:

Quote:
I think… I think it is time we talked.
Come to #historyneverdies on irc.chat-solutions.org. I know you know how to get there.
Sunday night. 8:00 PM EST.
If I were you, I’d start formulating good questions. I will only answer certain ones.
-The Historian

Sunday refers to Sunday, September 25th. A transcript is available at unfiction.

This chat then lead players to another real-world meeting, this time with an author at a book signing at the Colonial Mall in Harrisburg, PA. The author was Stephen Pytak (mentioned a couple of other times up to this point in the game). He gave us a letter from Shadown to Rowen Darkblade (both of PG1 fame).

Thanks Atrophied, it sounds like things are going well. I can see from the forum discussions that many players are enjoying this game thoroughly.

Minor Site Updates

gears.jpgPhew. We’ve been so busy here, playing all of these wonderful and exciting ARGs, that’s it’s been quite a long time since we’ve had the chance to update our information here. So, sit back, grab your popcorn, and enjoy the show!

As you can see, we have added some of the hot new games to come onto the scene in the last month or so to our “What’s Hot” list. Grassroots efforts 13 Books | Triskabiblios, Project Gateway II and VaporLofts have burst onto the scene, while Omnifam continues to impress.

We’ve also added Last Call Poker to our listing of the hottest ARGs — players have been arriving to the game from all over the world, many of them new to the ARG scene, and they have been treated to an exceptionally well-designed game so far.

While we wait for Orbital Colony to officially take off (November 16th is the rumored launch date), we have taken it off of our “Hot” list. As well, Conspiracy of B has seemingly become another addition to the growing list of prematurely-ending ARGs. The game started June 21 and has been inactive since the middle of September.

Book Release: Through The Rabbit Hole

rabbithole.jpgDave Szulborski — author, puppetmaster, puzzle creator, all-around nice guy — has recently released another book about Alternate Reality Gaming. Billed as a resource “for newcomers to learn about and get started in ARGs,” Through the Rabbit Hole: A Beginners Guide To Playing Alternate Reality Games is Szulborski’s second book about ARGs (his first, This Is Not A Game, came out earlier this year).

A press release suggests that the book is the “perfect introduction” for newcomers interested in the wild world of ARG. The book has it’s own website with additional information about the book, including a table of contents and some downloadable content. There is even a promotion in conjunction with Perplex City cards, as well as other promotions on the publisher’s website.

The book can be purchased at its website or through LuLu online sales. We hope to have a review of the book up very soon.

Last Call Poker

We found Last Call Poker through an email sent into the ARGN tip-line this morning. We’re not sure exactly what to think yet, but the site is definitely… interesting. It has all of the standard signs pointing towards ARG — registration, automated email replies, suspicious video, voice mail, and an attractive brunette character that needs our help. However, if you actually sit down and play on the poker tables, you’ll find that they are all functional and that many people (or, if you want to go in a different direction, poker bots) are already sitting down, calling and raising, as if the site had existed for months already. (For what it’s worth, the site has been registered since May, although we can’t find any hits on Google about it).

Is this an Alternate Reality Game? Or is it simply a gambling site? Perhaps a haven for dancing robots? Only time will tell, friends, but after only a handful of minutes on the site, we’re pretty stoked about what may be ‘in the cards’ for Last Call Poker.

New Games On The Horizon?

icarus.jpgTwo recently discovered blips on the ARG radar have sent ripples of interest throughout the community. The newest discovery, Falling In Time (AKA the Icarus ARG) came to us via a sponsored Google ad, and has already entertained the masses with some hidden web pages on the trailhead site. The site is aesthetically pleasing, and it looks like there was some serious thought put into the design.

triskabiblios.jpgThe second attention-getter of the week has been The 13 Books | Triskabiblios. While the discussion at the UnFiction forums has been fast and furious (348 posts since being introduced to the community on September 12), it’s unclear as to the purpose of the “game”. Some say that it is a recruitment campaign, as the original post by vibration13 on UF once made mention of such a PM recruitment angle, while others say that it is simply something that has gotten out of hand. For what it’s worth, there are links vibration13.com on the trailhead site, which is currently looking like more of a web directory than an ARG. Is it a puzzle? Is it an ARG? Is it a new marketing campaign for Amazon? Hopefully the situation becomes clearer sooner.

Falling In Time:
Discussion at UnForums
Trailhead
IRC Chat in #icarus

The 13 Books | Triskabiblios:
Discussion at UnForums
Trailhead
IRC Chat in #13books

ReGenesis: Relaunch and Award Nomination!

regenesis.jpgTwo bits of exciting information coming out of the ReGenesis camp this week, one concerning the relaunch of the series on public television, and the other regarding the nomination of the ReGenesis website for a major Canadian award.

We last reported on ReGenesis back in October of 2004 when the series was first aired on Movie Central and The Movie Network, both subscription-based cable networks in Canada. The series included an ARG element, or “extended reality” to it. Now, almost a year later, ReGenesis is enjoying a resurgence in popularity with the broadcast of Season One on Canadian public television channel Global. (Unfortunately, there is no current syndication deal for any networks outside of Canada.) With the re-airing of the series on Global comes the relaunch of the web-based ARG. This is the first instance of an “replayed” ARG — that is, the reset and replay of an ARG that had previously run its course.

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Virtucube Winner Announced

vcube.jpgAccording to the Virtuquest website, a winner has been announced in the Virtucube Multi-Layered Puzzle contest. Richard Patterson, who lives in the United Kingdom, is the winner of $500 cash prize. The contest ran for well over ten months, a formidable challenge for all those who took part. Congratulations, Richard, and we hope you lend your talents to helping us solve future ARG puzzles in years to come.

Inside The Laramie Project

laramie.jpgThe Laramie Project was a unique ARG experience that took place during this year’s Blogathon charity event. We were fortunate enough to have Xara Roberts, the creative mind behind the game, email us with some of her thoughts about the experience.

“I first did Blogathon 2 years ago when I was 17 – so many people who participated that year managed to pull off some amazing projects whilst still staying within the rules. Despite not having a properly functioning blog for about a year, I intended to do this year’s Blogathon. Raising money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis has been important to me since my mother was diagnosed with the disease in 2000. I also knew that because I had dropped off the blogosphere for so long I would run into problems outside of my circle of friends when trying to raise money, and since most of my friends are students, it wouldn’t be the most lucrative campaign. So when thinking about what to do to get my cause out, I realised I could combine this with running my first ARG.”

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PXC Forums Come To Life, and a Scarlett Letter

pxc_pole.jpgA long-awaited addition to the Perplex City universe happened late last week when the site rolled out its in-game message forum area. Players have been busily discussing topics related to the puzzle cards that have been released so far, and new information has been added to the FAQ section.

As well, this past week included an email from in-game character Scarlett Kiteway to all players on her father’s (Sente Kiteway) mailing list. The email was chock full of information about the death of Pietro Salk, who had been a reporter at the Perplex City Sentinel. Players were able to get Scarlett’s take on the situation and were offered a spot on her mailing list.

As the PXC machine continues to chug along, you can catch updates at the Perplex City Updates blog as well as right here at ARGN.

Beyond Reality Chat Rescheduled

beyondreality.jpgDue to some technical difficulties, the online chat with Beyond Reality author John Gosney has had to be rescheduled. The new date and time are Sunday August 14th at 6:00 ET.

AIM at the Wolf, Win Handsome Prizes!

crywolf.gifWe reported earlier about a text-messaging game related to the upcoming feature film Cry Wolf. Well, ARGN got a tip today about how you can get involved in the AIM-based ‘instant-win game’. Register at this site to get in on the action, provided you have an AIM screenname and access to the AIM service on your handheld device/cell phone. The grand prize is a trip to Hollywood to hunt for a missing car. As we said in our earlier article, we have no idea where this will lead. However, after reading the offical rules, we’re pretty confident that this is a sweepstakes only and not an ARG, per se.

In addition, there was another website address given in the tip for a completely different game, but still connected to the movie. Cry Wolf: The Game is a flash-based game pitting people against each other in an elimination-style cat-and-mouse game. The site includes tutorials in which the voice-over instructions, which are both simplistic and thorough, give you a good sense of how the game is played before you jump into it. Again, we’re not implying that this would lead to anywhere ARGish, but it’s a neat diversion and another interesting use of Internet technologies to promote a movie.

Jamie Kane Goes Live

jamiekane.jpgJamie Kane, the Alternate Reality Game designed by the BBC, has moved out of beta stage and officially launched yesterday. According to the Jamie Kane website, players can get involved in in the ‘part game, part drama, part murder mystery’ through various methods, including finding clues in message boards and emails, and interacting with characters with a proprietary Instant Messaging system. There is even a cell phone interactive component for ARGonauts living in the UK.

The EVA Project

life2kw.gifGot this in the ARGN inbox a couple of days ago:

On July 31, 2005, an unknown assailant executed a highly orchestrated disruption of the EVA Project Orientation seminar.

In what could be considered a hostile attack, this individual employed guerilla tactics and advanced technology to sabotage the event and seize the critical EVA Core.

EVA Project technologist Shakuhachi Muromachi is also missing and wanted for questioning.

Please visit http://eva.unvirtual.com/ for more details.

If you have any information regarding the identity of the perpetrator, the location of the EVA Core, or the whereabouts of Dr. Muromachi, we ask for your immediate assistance.

Please contact URI or visit the EVA Project site for more information.

EVA Project
http://eva.unvirtual.com/

Unvirtual Realities, Inc.
415-820-1590

Your tips will be completely confidential.

We found information about Project EVA on UnFiction and we assume that this must be related.

Update on PXC Puzzle Cards

pc2.jpgPerplex City players were sent an email from in-game character Sente Kiteway earlier today, giving a heads-up to the registered player base that the puzzle cards (which have been sold in select stores across the world for the past few weeks) are now available for online ordering at Firebox. The email talked about a bonus for the first 100 people who order, but it is unknown whether that limit has been met or not.

Akalesh Ascendant

akalesh.jpgKeen observer Chippy at Unfiction found a new sponsored link when doing a Google search for ARG today. Akalesh Ascendant is a META website for a new ARG coming in February of 2006, according to the site. While nothing is known (at least by us) about the company behind the game (Dark Element), the Flash-based website has a slick quality to it (even though the navigation is still a bit wonky).

The site has an Egyptian theme to it, complete with a catchy music loop. Dark Element is billing the game as “what some call an ARG and others call immersive fiction” and includes a sign-up form for anyone wishing to stay informed. There has already been a puzzle found on the site.

Book Review: Beyond Reality

beyondreality.jpgWhile Beyond Reality: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming by John Gosney is not “Alternate Reality Gaming for Dummies”, it certainly is a worthwhile read for anyone currently connected to ARG, as well as an invaluable resource for anyone trying to break into the genre. Similar to Dave Szulborski’s This Is Not A Game, this book opens by looking at the origins of ARG, tracing its history back to the Beast and discussing elements of The Art Of The Heist and ILoveBees. The book also dedicates sections to a guide to web design for Puppetmasters, and includes its own inclusive ARG (called Route 66) to give people an in-depth experience with Alternate Reality Gaming. The book has a university-level textbook feel to it, offering many different notes and tips throughout.

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City of Domes Suspended

domes.jpgEarlier today, players involved with the City of Domes ARG (featured previously on ARGN) received an email from Jacob Trasky at Virtuquest detailing the necessity for the immediate suspension of gameplay as a response to a breakdown in the contract between VQC and its unnamed client. While the announcement was troubling and dissapointing, it was not altogether unexpected, as the game had ground to a halt weeks ago.

With the announcement, it looks as though players who had followed the game will have to wait for further developments between VQC and its client. Trasky made clear in his letter that the company has “great respect for the ARG community, players, and entities such as ARGN.COM and Unfiction.com.” He concluded by apologizing for this “unconcluded effort”. It was unclear whether or not the game would be able to continue if the compensation issues were resolved.

ARGTalk Shows Its True Stripes?

bluequestion.jpgWhile some of us like to think we are ‘in the know’ when it comes to Alternate Reality Gaming, there is always opportunity to pull the wool over the collective eyes of the community every so often. Tonight, there is evidence (although wildly speculative) that ARGTalk, an ARG meta discussion site that popped up this year out of the blue, might actually be a front for a new ARG. Confused? Me too.

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Success and Failure at Live Events

coachellathumb.jpgAs reported Thursday, two seperate real world events occured this weekend within the ARG The Art Of The Heist. However, in an interesting turn of events, only one retrieval mission was a success. Players of the game were ecstactic as the New York interaction with DJ Will Star went off without a hitch, and shocked as the mission at the Coachella Music Festival was a complete bust.

Community members bagsbee and rose were front and center at The Scratch DJ Academy on Friday night to meet with Will Star, who teaches at the academy. The package was received and, once opened, another valuable SD card was available for the players to look over.

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Art Of The Heist: Bi-Coastal

Indio, CA / New York, NYThe ARG phenomenon, The Art Of The Heist, continues to immerse players in its storyline with another event planned for the night of April 29th in New York City. The following day, another game tie-in will occur in Indio, California at the world famous Coachella Valley Music Festival. This real world interaction is quite impressive, as it’s been a few years since an ARG has successfully held events on opposite sides of the continent within such a short timespan of each other.

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The Art Of The Heist: Atlanta Update

heistcam.jpgYesterday’s real world event in Atlanta, part of the Art of the Heist ARG, turned out to be an adventure of sorts, as three ARG community members played crucial roles in the story and provided more drama and intrigue in the game that continues to blur the lines between reality and Alternate Reality.

The three ‘retrievers’ who play on the Unfiction forums (Valkyros, Meghan, and j5) met with in-game character Nisha at a restaurant early in the day, where they were given a mission: obtain an SD card from the inside of an Audi parked at a nearby dealership. The three players devised a plan:

Excerpt from Valkyros’ account of what happened:
The plan was straightforward, I was to proceed first to eyeball the site and provide security overwatch. Meghan was then to saunter in and corner the salesman posted near the A3. Nisha suggested that Meghan steer him to the $129,000 A8 parked in the northernmost corner of the show room. Once this was accomplished, J5 would enter showroom and get in the relatively untended A3. From there he would rifle the car and hopefully locate the SD card.

The actual retrieval process by j5 was like something from a James Bond movie, while online players watched the scene via webcam:

Excerpt from j5’s account of what happened:
I did a once around and entered the driver’s side door. Once in, I immediately started looking in the obvious places. I opened the armrest, found an accordion panel and slid it open, “nothing” I felt around the steering wheel “check under the floor mats” Nisha suggests in my earpiece. Right about the time I start lifting floor mats, a tall man in a white dealership shirt approached and introduced himself, holding out his arm at full length to shove his hand into the window of the car. I took him to be the GM of the store based on his presence, so I shook his hand and introduced myself. He asked If I had any questions or needed help with anything or if I was interested in a brochure. “As a matter of fact, a brochure would be great, can you locate one for me?” Once he was gone, the search began again in earnest; I was sliding seats all the way back in their tracks, removing ashtrays, pulling off panels. Nisha continued offering suggestions and asking where I had looked.

The mission was a success, as J5 found and retrieved the SD card and then met up with Nisha and the other players at their rendezvous point.

With the high profile theft of an Audi A3 from a car show, and this intense mission, this game has quickly become one of the most impressive games in ARG history. We can only hope that Art of the Heist continues to blow our minds as the story unfolds.

Trailhead
Discussion at Unfiction
Trail
Chat in #heist

The Art Of The Heist: Atlanta!

redaudithumb.jpgAfter an interesting real world event in New York City involving a stolen Audi A3 two weeks ago, The Art of the Heist appears set to bring their Alternate Reality into the lives of those players lucky enough to live in Atlanta, Georgia. In-game communication between two characters led perceptive players to ads at Monster.com (which has since been removed) and Craig’s List, where Nisha, one of the protagonists in the story, asks for public assistance.

Once the ads were decoded (what would an in-game announcement be without encryption?), players were prompted to email the character for more details. Those that made the effort were sent this reply:

Thanks for your interest in helping. We are looking for retrievers in Atlanta to help secure an item. You must pass a background check in order to accomplish this task. You will be required to sign a release. You will be trained to operate some electronic equipment and given a task to accomplish, and you will work as a team under the direction of Nisha Roberts.

Applicants were told to be available for Saturday, April 16th, from Noon to 3:00 pm local time if they wanted to participate. The players were also subjected to background checks — three Unfiction forum members have passed these and are going to be on-scene for the event.

Within days of the ads being discovered, information was released in-game about the location of where the event will take place — an Audi dealership. As well, the characters have set up a image webcast for their worldwide audience to tune in as things happen. This means that all players (and not only those who can make it to Atlanta) will be able to take part in this unique opportunity. Community members are extremely excited about this event, and are eager to find out what will happen in this exciting ARG.

So far, this game has been a huge hit with the players, and with the innovations and creativity they’ve seen so far, it’s easy to see why AotH players are hooked. ARGN will bring you the very latest details as this story unfolds.

Trailhead
Discussion at Unfiction
Trail
Chat in #heist

Two ARGs Sharing One Mind

syn.jpgIn news that was shocking to players involved in the Synagoga and Wildfire Industries ARGs, they were actually playing… the same game!

In a plot twist revealed earlier today, players of the Synagoga game were given information that confirmed that the two games are indeed one. Reaction has been generally positive across all discussion boards, so chalk this one up to ‘pleasant surprise’.

The Cult of Adramelech

adramelech.jpgAnother ARG has popped up to the surface as more and more people get drawn into the world of the Cult of Adramelech (translates to “robe of the king”). It all started with an email but has quickly grown to encompass multiple websites, blogs and email/IM/telephone interaction. While the story is still developing, players are quickly completing tasks (solving puzzles, primarily) in order to move further in the game. However, it’s not clear yet if their efforts are helping Jake, the secretive email sender, or the Servants of Adramelech themselves.

It is an interesting game thus far, and players Kozu and Zephret have been extremely helpful in getting everyone up to speed with a wiki guide.

Discussion at Unfiction

ReGenesis Becomes a Reality

regenesis.jpgEarlier tonight, Canadian subscribers to The Movie Network (Movie Central in Eastern Canada) bore witness to the unveiling of new series ReGenesis, which has an ARG element. Some of you will remember those snail mail correspondences that were sent out to ARG community members, leading people to the Science Sucks and NORBAC websites. Well, having just viewed the show, I can tell you that it certainly did not disappoint.

The series started with a situation involving a hazardous biothreat, which spreads across parts of Ontario. The first two episodes (shown back to back, commercial-free) mainly centered around the development of some of the key characters, as well as exploring the genetic make-up and possible sources of the virus. There was a lot of technobabble, which sounded perfectly rational — a sign that the writers had some excellent consultants in the process of developing the show.

The ARG tied in really well. Despite not getting a live phone call (which I had expected), I was not disappointed in how the plot of the ARG was duplicated and expanded on the small screen. The characters of the game are the same characters on the show, for example. Halfway into the first hour, I got 3 email updates from various sources within the game. And I was definitely watching closely for in-game phone numbers & login codes (although upon first viewing, I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary).

Overall, I was uberimpressed as to how this ARG complimented the TV show. It has definitely left me wanting more. Hopefully the international audience will be able to view the episodes soon, because it’s really a fairly decent series.