Tag: youtube (page 2 of 2)

“I’m a WHATmaster?” The Lonelygirl15 Creators Appear at ARGfest-o-Con to Tell Us Why They Love Their Fans in Spite of Themselves

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.

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The Human Pet: An Interactive Fictional Horror Story

Ed. Note: Since this article was first published, some of the links to the game have changed. We have updated the links so that they are current to November 21, 2006.

humanpet.jpegThe scene opens with a man tied up and struggling. He’s lying in a white room with a mattress on the floor. A man in a white mask enters carrying a knife which he uses to free the bonds around the captive’s hands. As he leaves, he whispers something into the camera. All we know is he is here against his will

The captive, the Human Pet, has freed himself from his leg restraints and is pacing about the room screaming, asking if anyone can hear him. He finds the camera and, for the first time, we get a good look at his face. Suddenly the face turns into a mask and as he backs away, we see that he’s holding a baseball bat and the Human Pet is laying on the mattress in obvious pain. You will see everything.

This is how the interactive and fictional horror story began three weeks ago. There have been three videos since then, with a new one appearing on a regular weekly basis, allowing us to learn more about the man in the mask and his pet, which he’s named Sunny. The man in the mask has not only uploaded the videos, but has interacted with his audience, going as far as placing the life of his pet in the audience’s hands. There have been messages hidden in the film and in the YouTube tags attached to the short movies that have led the audience to Bible passages that provide more symbolic insight into this man and his motivations.

Since the success of Lonelygirl15, we’ve seen a number of stories told through episodic YouTube videos. While few are well told, intriguing or truly interactive, The Human Pet, directed by the fictional Sam Deercot (anagram of Codemaster) is one to check out. It is a very interesting (if not controversial) story and has provided the audience with some power over the story, albeit purely an illusion. Additionally, while the videos are short and filled with obvious and simple devices, they are quite effective and, considering the subject matter, beautiful. The allegorical shot of the Man, mask off and back to the camera, at the Seder table lit only by candles is a stunning picture ripe with visual delight. The latest video, The Stalker, makes effective use of a classic music cliche as the tension mounts and pulls you to the edge of your seat before letting you settle back down as it sinks in that Sunny is not the first.

Like all good art, The Human Pet invites discussion. The idea of the subject matter is horrid – a human, held captive with a number of other victims preceding him. Even more scary is the idea that this is really happening and that we are watching and participating as it unfolds. Is it possible that such a thing is real? How far should fiction go in blurring that line and, more philosophically, can we ever know what is real and what is fictional? It was brought to my own attention as I was writing this that while this may in fact be art, I have no actual evidence that it is fictional. To that, I reply: watch the movies and contact Sam Deercot yourself. The codes, the multiple interactions (both public and private) from Sam, and a number of shots in the film suggest that this is, just as it claims to be, an interactive, fictional horror story.

To watch the videos, visit The Human Pet on YouTube. And feel free to join in on The Human Pet discussion at Unfiction.

Update: The user account on YouTube has been suspended and the videos were removed as violating the Terms of Service.

LonelyGirl15 – Is She or Isn’t She?

lonelygirl151The white-hot spark of a YouTube user named LonelyGirl15 has set the dry timber of the summer Internet community ablaze. Ostensibly the video blog of a teenaged American girl named Bree, the 23 videos posted so far have chronicled a budding romance with a boy named Daniel, but there’s a twist: Bree’s family is very religious, she is home-schooled, and she has pledged a “purity bond” with her father. Even stranger is the fact that Bree’s religion is never named, and in fact on various comments on YouTube she has said that it is not mainstream – “We’re not Christian or Buddhist or Hindu or anything like that.” There’s also a mysterious picture of famous occultist Aleister Crowley on Bree’s bedroom wall, above a candelabra which she’s vehement that Daniel not light. And wait – that Crowley picture is new – it used to be something else (could that possibly bear a resemblance to Baphomet?) A dark twist, indeed.

Buzz has it that the videos are too pat, too scripted, and too professional looking to be anything but some sort of viral campaign. Indeed, the clues are there. Bree initially gained an audience by making engaging and humorous videos featuring popular YouTube users. She’s very cagey about revealing any personally revealing information about herself, often completely dodging uncomfortable questions. Perhaps more telling is the fact that a vanity website under her name was registered on May 12 – almost two weeks before she showed up on YouTube. Those following the saga wonder how she knew she would become an Internet sensation before posting a video (her excuse: Daniel did it to tease her).

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Catching The Wish: Large and In Charge

ctw_comic.jpgOne month ago, we were happy to send out a Game Alert about Catching The Wish, the sequel to the 2003 alternate reality game Chasing The Wish. In the weeks since that announcement, the game has exploded onto computer screens everywhere with multiple websites, a rich and engrossing storyline, and interactivity that has added layer upon layer of immersive game play for the players following the story of Dale Sprague and his life-changing wish. The ARG is also tied in with Chasing The Wish: Book One, the first in a series of four comic books based on the storyline originally created by Dave Szulborski, who designed the first CTW and has since worked on projects like Art of the Heist and Who Is Benjamin Stove.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of the comic book last month, and even though I am not necessarily a fan of comics, the writing and artistic design were enough to keep me turning pages. With a script written by Jason Stackhouse, art by P. Emerson Williams and Jessica Kaos, and an overall creative vision by James Curcio, the comic is visually entertaining while delivering a concise and thrilling story. Book One is available through online venues, such as Indyplanet and New Fiction Publishing.

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Perplex City Video Competition Heats Up

pxc_film.jpgPlayers of Perplex City have been hard at work this month on submissions for a video contest, and recently, submissions have made their way onto YouTube, a popular online video streaming service. As we told you earlier this month, the video contest is part of a campaign to promote the city which is central to the ongoing alternate reality game, entering its fourteenth month of continuous game play. While ARGN is definitely not in the business of film criticism, I personally viewed all 35 that were up for viewing and found a few that were funny, some that were extremely well-made, and one or two entries that were rather…. interesting. Here are my (completely unofficial) must-see picks:

  • Private Eye – The ARGN Editor’s Pick, if only for the included line “If she knew, she wasn’t telling me. She wasn’t telling anyone anymore.” Love it.
  • Hitchhikers Guide to Perplex City – A close second place. Very good use of GUI.
  • The Quest for The Cube mini-series – parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Proof positive that good things come in multiple episodes, and our third place pick, cumulatively. The ball in part four made me chuckle incessantly, but the freeze frame in part 5 did me in for good.

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Perplex City Video Contest Announced

pxc_video.jpgAs announced last Thursday at PerplexCity.com, Mind Candy and You Tube of, well, you know, Earth, as well as the Perplex City Academy and the Open Design Agency of Perplex City, are beginning a video contest to promote Perplex City, as well as the game with its namesake. This marks the first time an Alternate Reality Game will incorporate user-generated video into the realm of the game, and has inspired many of the PXC player base to pick up their cameras and start shooting.

According to the Perplex City official contest page, videos will be accepted for a four week period which started April 27th. The video submissions should illustrate “the Joys of Perplex City” — whether that means the city itself, or the game, is likely intentionally unclear. As well, videos must be 30-90 seconds long and family-friendly, and everything contained in the video must be either entirely original, or free from copyright restriction (read: Creative Commons). Beyond that, apparently, the sky is the limit.

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