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.
Just when you thought the LonelyGirl15 phenomenon had settled down, in walks Cassie. Cassie, an 18 year old YouTube contributor from, um, “right there above you,” first caught the eye of LG15 fans in mid-September when she was mentioned in one of the LonelyGirl15 videos. From there, it’s a little hard to explain, what with the public skepticism about whether “Cassie Is Watching” (the first video in the Cassie series can be found here) was officially tied in with LG15. Weeks passed by with no official confirmation on whether Cassie, Bree and Daniel (the latter two being the main characters of the LG15 videos) were all part of the same story, which left fans wondering whether Cassie was another creation by the makers of LG15 or some sort of story hijacking attempt.
Then, on October 21, things took a turn for the… even more strange and confusing. Somehow, a YouTube user named OpAphid became intertwined into the LG15/CIW universe. Again, followers of events had to wonder if this was another attempt to derail the “official” LG15 experience. Fortunately, exactly one month later, the public got some well-deserved answers from the LG15 creation team — OpAphid had become the “Official LG15 Alternate Reality Game,” according to a post on the LG15 forums. Days later, the LG15 creators acknowledged that OpAphid “was a 100% fan created ARG” and that they “liked it so much that [they] decided to contact the creator and make it the official LG15 ARG.”