So you’re interested in learning more about alternate reality games. Wonderful! This guide should introduce you to the core concepts you need to begin.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, alternate reality games (commonly abbreviated as ARGs) are fictional narratives that unfold over time, using the real world as a platform to tell a story that gives players control (or the illusion of control) over the events that unfold.

Some ARGs may ask you to follow narrative threads from one platform to another. If you see a business card while watching a YouTube video, check to see if the company has an online presence, or try calling the telephone number. Players typically work together to piece together bits and scraps of information to uncover larger stories, acting like narrative archaeologists. Often, the community of players that form around these games can help point you in the right direction.

Other ARGs focus more on puzzles or challenges for the community to tackle. Is an audio file corrupted with static noises? The sound might be hiding a clue. Puzzles can come in every shape and form: and while there are resources to help with common ciphers you will frequently need to get more creative to tackle the kind of puzzles used in ARGs. Often, these puzzles are explicitly designed to require large groups of people working together to solve.

Communities and discussion forums typically spring up for individual games on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, and even Google+, although there are a number of persistent communities dedicated to the space on Reddit, Slack, and Discord. ARGNet articles will typically point out where to find player communities tackling specific games, with fellow players often serving as your best bet towards finding the community that’s right for your particular interests.

ARGs are part of a broader immersive field. Increasingly, games and experiences combine elements of similar experiences like puzzle hunts, escape rooms, immersive theater, live action role playing games, megagames, and transmedia experiences.

If you’re looking for ARGs to play right now, check out ARGNet’s Now Playing list and see if any ongoing games interest you Also sign up for our newsletter for monthly(ish) updates on the genre, and follow us on Twitter for the latest updates. ARGNet also has a Facebook Page, if you’re into that kind of thing. Finally, we can be reached directly through our contact form.

As a reward for checking the source code on this page, here’s a link to a mysterious logo! So curious! No, this isn’t going anywhere this time…maybe later, it will though.