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.