A week before a much publicized appearance at SXSW, Lonelygirl15 creators Miles Beckett and Greg Goodfried, and Glenn Rubenstein, the Puppetmaster for the official Lonelygirl15 ARG, OpAphid, appeared at ARGfest-o-Con to talk about the Lonelygirl15 phenomenon and their introduction to the alternate reality of fame, fans, and the internet community’s dogged pursuit of information.
The Creators (as they label their forum posts on the Lonelygirl15 website) never intended to get into ARGs at all. Miles said they just wanted to “tell an interesting story on YouTube.” There were no puzzles at first, just the mystery about whether Bree was real, and if not, who was behind it all. They didn’t count on the fan community’s voracious appetite for information–“Is this a game, and if so, what are we supposed to solve?” Since there weren’t really any clues in the story itself, the community focused on finding the people behind the story, trying to figure out who they were.
In Greg’s case, this meant a surprising amount of information about his personal life was dug up and posted online. The first thing found was the registered trademark Greg’s father had applied for as the team’s lawyer. Then within a few weeks, it was his father’s name, his mother’s name, his sister (who superficially has a lot in common with the character of Bree), and eventually even his wedding pictures became the stuff of internet posts. “It became frightening,” he admitted. “I’d wake up wondering what was going to be on the website next.” His wife, who was the person answering Bree’s email, was caught in an online trap and revealed to be an employee of Creative Artists Agency.