On September 12, 2006, authors Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman released Cathy’s Book, an experiment in transmedia publishing, under the Running Press imprint. The book and its accompanying evidence packet provided a window into the life of Cathy Vickers, a fashion-conscious teenage girl with a penchant for daydreaming and doodling. Readers could follow a series of clues contained within the novel to birth certificates, news clippings, telephone numbers, and websites. Cathy’s Book was a New York Times Best Seller. The subsequent books in the trilogy, Cathy’s Key and Cathy’s Ring, wrapped up Cathy’s story.
Last month, the Cathy trilogy was re-released as an iPhone app, at $0.99 per novel. The app integrates the interactivity of the original novels, and adds animations throughout the story that make the illustrations liberally peppered throughout the book come alive. To celebrate the app’s launch, Running Press Books is giving ARGNet readers the chance to win an iPod Touch and iTunes gift cards. To enter, follow the instructions below.
By Jessie Greene and Nicko Demeter
What is the Indian Lake Project? Short answer: we’re not entirely sure. At the moment it looks more like an interesting fictional blog than anything else, but there are a few sly hints that it may be a prelude to something more ARGish (including contact from “America’s Research Gate”).
A box found in the woods near Indian Lake is given to a dying man’s nephew, known only as JohnS. Over several posts, the author slowly catalogues the contents, revealing a plot worthy of an X-Files episode. His public discussion of an apparent government conspiracy attracts the attention of several mysterious individuals.
Some of the documentation and photographic evidence point heavily towards a secret experiment that the US Government conducted in the early 1950’s. The posts also hint that other projects may be related to highly classified operations such as the CIA’s MKULTRA.
An internet search on the blog reveals that as early as 2005, a rather baffled community has currently stumbled onto the site as well as other forums and blogs discussing The Indian Lake Project (join the Unforums discussion here). There are also uncorroborated reports of JohnS communicating with followers outside of the weblog medium.
If the Indian Lake Project develops into an ARG, it has the beginnings of a great story. But regardless of whether the ultimate form of the narrative ends up being an ARG, it lends itself to a great read and helps promote the ARG genre by the generating interest in the form and encouraging others to try their hand at cross-media storytelling.
So is it an ARG? Not yet. A blog-like episodic novel? Maybe. The work of a delusional madman? We should be so lucky. At this time nobody knows exactly what it is, ironically adding to the mystery surrounding the site. ARG or not, we will keep an eye on it to see if it evolves further.
By Jessica Price and Jonathan Waite
As another year has come and gone, looking back at 2006 shows that it was a good year to be involved in alternate reality gaming. All in all, the year saw the genre receiving ever greater mainstream recognition, evolving in ways both anticipated and surprising, and adapting enthusiastically to an ever-increasing variety of platforms, media and participants. It also saw major changes here at ARGNet, as we rebranded ourselves, added some new staff members, and initiated the ARG Netcast. We were also proud to bring our readers coverage from SXSW and were ecstatic to be a network partner for PICNIC ’06. The ARG community continued to grow, as Unfiction hit 10,000 members and Immersion Unlimited went over the 1300 member mark. In addition to longer-running corporate games like Perplex City, Studio Cypher, and Edoc Laundry, there were a number of well-executed and enthusiastically-received large scale indie games. It seems like the year has gone quite quickly, but not without some major stories and exciting developments. So, without further ado, here are the highlights, events, games, and trends that caught our attention.
In a world where c|net, GeeksOn and the Parents’ Choice Foundation have their own holiday gift guide, why not ARGNet as well? Our staff has been hard at work doing their own holiday shopping, but that hasn’t stopped them from contributing some gift ideas for the special ARGonaut in your life. Here are their picks for 2006:
Written by Sean C. Stacey and Brooke Thompson
Philip Rosedale, Founder of Linden Labs, presented his take on the empowerment offered by Second Life of the average citizen to not only create but monetize their own content and design. Second Life is a virtual world accessible over the Internet via software installed on your home computer, that has grown over the last few years into a vibrant creative community as well as a formidable virtual economy. The environment provided has its own internal monetary system which, as with many MMORPGs, can be translated into real world cash.
The central point of Mr. Rosedale’s speech was that “more is different.” He described how an enabling framework such as Second Life demonstrates the creation of emergent elements that could not have been anticipated from the beginning, once the participating audience community reaches a certain critical mass. This concept should not be foreign to those familiar with Alternate Reality Gaming, as it has been reiterated on many occasions that the larger the community, the greater the community’s ability to accomplish tasks and solve problems.
Written by Sean C. Stacey and Brooke Thompson
The afternoon keynote address was presented by John de Mol, founder of Talpa and Co-Founder of Endemol. Talpa may be recognized for, among other things, its questionable contribution to society of the Big Brother and Extreme Makeover television properties. His appearance was quite a coup for the Cross Media Week Foundation, as he very rarely makes any public appearances or speeches.
Mr. de Mol posited that we were entering what he termed the “Application Age,” meaning that the real value of technology is in how it is used and applied. The Internet enables content production, content delivery, mass communication and discussion of information and issues. This has already begun to be wholly embraced by the younger generation that has grown up with access to the Internet and, more recently, high speed broadband. Ninety percent of consumer created content is developed by users under the age of 30. These youths are digital natives, navigating cyberspace effortlessly in comparison to their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.