It’s been a long time since ARGN.com posted my article entitled Building Fences: An Editorial, the subject of which was the topic of adversarial play within Alternate Reality Games, in theory and in history. We invited you, the reader, to tell us what you thought about the subject, and we were nearly immediately inundated with responses, spanning the entire gamut of opinion. We read every letter, rant, and lesson. Here are some highlights from the responses we received:
“…The problem with past approaches to the player v. player tactic in ARGing is that it almost always has come across as either a minor, player induced (i.e. not meant by the PM to happen) event, or has been quickly toned down by PMs who did mean to do it in the first place. The outcry from the community is always rather dramatic when a PM attempts to purposely divide players.
What I think needs to happen is for a PM team to make a quality ARG that incorporates this tactic, and run with it – to not give in to the community’s cries, and to just go with what they planned. Nothing against the community – I count myself as a member of it in most aspects – but sometimes everyone gets worked up about small things, while forgetting the bigger picture.” – Dave
“Eisner comes down in favor of splitting the player base, arguing that this makes for a more powerful approach to mysteries (think open source), and richer plot developments (think restaurant menu). I would add that increasing the number of player parties, from one to many, could increase the amount of player creativity (i.e., more wikis, more fiction, etc).
As Web 2.0 storytelling emerges, this is precisely the sort of thing we’ll see.” – Infocult
The age-old argument is coming up again, in the form of the recently launched (and, perhaps, recently concluded) grassroots game, Project Ashcroft 3.
We all know that one of Alternate Reality Gaming’s main selling points and the reason that many of us are around to this day (especially anyone who can remember “where.gif” and “FOUNDER”), is the strong community environment that evolves during a game. Every once in a while though, a new game (or sometimes rogue players) will buck the trend by playing the “adversary” card, pitting player against player. In recent history, the ARG community has not addressed this issue in depth, preferring to assume that this action is the exception, and not the rule.
So which is it? Is it a good practice and a natural evolution in the gaming realm? Is this a bad idea contrary to the ideals upon which Alternate Reality Games were founded? Let’s talk, shall we?
We’ve been seeing an amazing surge in grassroots projects lately, and “iamthepossum” seems to be yet another with potential. While the game seems to be in initial phases currently, this is the breakdown:
Alan Reeve, an owner of a LiveJournal, has been having strange dreams, ever since January 13th, when he hung up a dream-catcher that he got as a gift from his grandfather in Atlanta.
Just when Alan’s (Tiffletaff7) dreams started recurring, a player at UnFiction got an instant message from “iamthepossum” asking about Alan. When the player contacted Alan via IM to check out the facts, he responded quite realistically, by being more than a little creeped out, and shooing the players away.
The LiveJournal was last updated on the 20th, with Alan getting a dead possum in his mailbox. He’s taken down the dream-catcher, and apparently the next step is for us to take, as nothing new has been updated at all since that time.
Is the game still active? Is the game only beginning? What is the relationship of “iamthepossum” and Alan? Only time will tell. Be sure to check ARGN for future updates, should new information come out in regards to this game!
Just before 2005 died and rose phoenix-like into 2006, a little trailhead appeared on a blog, and Methargo was born. Apparently a grassroots effort, players have been trying to unravel the mysteries at play: What’s up with O. Parliament? Can we trust “mi55548″? What happened to Tom? Where and what is the prism, and what can finding it (again) lead to?
At the center of the story is Methargo Limited, which specializes in :new marketing”. It becomes very clear from the start that the company has some nefarious plans in the works. James Whitmore, an employee of Methargo Ltd., is becoming more and more disillusioned with the work he’s made to do, and according to his journal, he’s quitting after a very short time with the company. Separately involved, are Tabitha and Amanda Keeling, a mother and daughter, and the apparently deceased Tom (who is/was currently employed by Methargo Ltd. in a similar role to James?). Things aren’t as they seem in this world, and the plot is still evolving. However, while play hasn’t been fast-paced, there’s enough to keep a player interested, and the pacing seems to work well for casual onlookers.
So far, the game play has involved a garden variety of puzzles, including Morse code, vigenere ciphers, cryptic AIM conversations and some references to Greek literature for good measure. The game seems to just be getting off the ground, so it should be a good time for new ARGonauts to get themselves involved. Keep your eyes glued to ARGN for further information for this interesting game.
ARGN had the opportunity to get in touch with Dawne Weisman, Founder and President of EDOC Laundry, to discuss the upcoming venture, and get some questions answered in regards to the exciting idea.
ARGN: So what was the inspiration for EDOC Laundry? Is there some backstory into the development that would be interesting to fans?
DW: I was very inspired by the work my husband (Jordan Weisman) did in creating a new form of story telling (dubbed ARG by you guys) and saw a way of integrating that into my passion for graphic design and fashion. I founded edoc laundry around the talents of my graphic/fashion design team headed by Shane Small, and consisting of; Daniel Dejos, Justin Koh, and Cathy Brigg, and brought them together with some of the team that Jordan had assembled for 42 Entertainment, namely Elan Lee and Sean Stewart. I then brought in a great writer by the name of Christopher Kubasik who is writing all our scripts.
Playing ARGs using online clues and interpersonal meetups is cool. But wearing an ARG is even cooler. At least that’s the premise behind EDOC, a new clothing company that promises the shirt will not only say something about your style, but also tells you a story.
“How do they do it?” You say? Then you realize you’re talking to your computer again. But, for the ease of understanding, I’ll explain:
You go to the store and buy an EDOC article of clothing (or “Laundry” as the hip kids call it), and embedded into the shirt’s skater designs are clues and puzzles that when solved and entered into a secret area of the EDOC website, will reveal further information related to the game’s story.
While not much is known about the project, Wired Magazine has mentioned in it’s article (in the upcoming December issue) that Elan Lee was behind the design. So is this a 4orty-2wo Entertainment gig? Is this an Elan Lee solo project? Will people buy clothes with a secret? Will we see a “Help Find Tommy Hilfiger and win $50,000” contest in the future? (We hope not.) Only time will tell. The project looks interesting, though, and what better gear to save AIs from the future in, than a shirt that is, in itself, an ARG?