EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of a planned series of editorials exploring horror- and dark-themed ARGs from a number of different perspectives.
The saccharine lyrics and cheerful smiles of the popular Japanese pop group “Dessart” hide a dark secret: coded messages hidden within stage performances, websites, and promotional posters for the band lead concerned individuals to a cult inciting mass suicides among Japan’s disaffected youth. This is not a game. No, really — this time it really isn’t a game. Rather, it’s Japanese director Sion Sono’s award-winning film Jisatsu Circle. The movie paints a dark picture of what could happen within the alternate reality gaming industry.
Viewers never find out what drove Dessart to embed messages encouraging suicide within their seemingly upbeat music, but with song titles like Mail Me, it’s not too improbable to assume it was a viral marketing ploy gone awry.
This raises a question relevant outside the realm of fiction: what level of responsibility do PMs have over actions their players take?
Episode 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.
- 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.
Caution: 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.
- 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.