Pity Tanya Mitchel: she’s just a nice girl with a LiveJournal, a job at a bank, and a wacky sister. The last of these happens to have disappeared, leaving a cipher-strewn trail and mysterious plea for her sister to save her by finding Dean Winchester (who appears to be the same Dean Winchester from CW’s Supernatural), and poor Tanya is utterly distraught about the whole thing. So, like any self-respecting character in an alternate reality game, she has turned to the wisdom of the internet to help her out.
A tip sent to Unfiction owner SpaceBass last Friday, containing a link to Tanya’s blog (Essentially Invisible), set players on the trail of what is beginning to look like a disjointed indulgence in ARG cliches. Between Tanya claiming that she found her own blog by accident and the appearance of ciphers with no plot-based justification for their placement, this looks likely to be the type of game that makes community veterans roll their eyes.
However, the game’s limited scope provides an easy opportunity for overview. During a discussion about the difficulty of finding regular coverage of the ARG world that is geared to people outside the community with game reviewer par excellence Chris Dahlen (one of the few journalists to tackle reviewing an ARG — Perplex City — in the context of mainstream gaming), Chris expressed a desire for regular sports-page-like coverage of running ARGs. He wanted to see an account of a game’s highs and lows that would be accessible to people who are internet literate but don’t regularly play ARGs.
I’m far too lazy to attempt such an ambitious project for a large-scale game, but Essentially Invisible provides an example of limited enough scope that I’m willing to give it a try. Please mentally read the following in your best sportscaster voice.
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!
When it rains, it pours. Another new ARG has come to light recently, despite the fact it has had a web presence since May. VaporLofts started as a LiveJournal blog by one Anne Schreber (aka point_system), who started befriending other LiveJournal bloggers who shared similar interests. Not a lot of attention was paid to the blog until Anne started talking about an airplane exploding over the Pacific Ocean, with one person miraculously surviving. A lot of people’s interests were piqued after that. Since then, we have been introduced to Anne’s mysterious employer, VaporLofts, who seem to be interested in a lot more than just selling and renovating real estate.
While it is still too early to tell where the VaporLofts story is heading, the game itself seems to show some real promise. The pace of the game shows that the creators have a great deal of patience. The recent trend to rush game developments due to overzealousness has doomed many an ARG in the past. It is refreshing to see that this game has not yet fallen into that trap.
VaporLofts should be a good ARG for those who have been waiting to get in on the ground floor. ARGN will keep you apprised of any major developments as they occur.
Discussion at Unfiction
IRC Chat in #vaporlofts