Alternate Reality Game

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An alternate reality game, or ARG, (also called immersive fiction) is a real-time interactive experience that utilizes several media and gaming elements to tell a story. The players uncover parts of the story by solving clues and/or puzzles passed to them through various mediums such as postal mail, e-mail, telephone, voicemail, websites, videos, etc. The players often directly affect the advancement of plot. The individual(s) responsible for control of the game and storyline is called the "puppetmaster."

Some fans initially suspected that lonelygirl15 was an alternate reality game. For a brief period of time, OpAphid was the official ARG of lonelygirl15; however, the OpAphid puppetmaster and the lonelygirl15 creators parted ways in April 2007. Since then, OpAphid has joined forces with Maddison Atkins, to create the new ARG redearth88. Other ARGs related to lonelygirl15 are The Homeschoolers Aggregate and Facility J.

ARG Basics

ARG Rules

  1. Maintain the attitude that "this is not a game"!
  2. Work Together! Collaboration is the key to solving any puzzle!
  3. Stay in character!

Glossary of Terms

  • Curtain: A metaphor for the line of separation between players and puppetmasters. Everything behind the curtain (out of game) does not exist in front of the curtain (in game).
  • Drop: A clue or puzzle, dropped off, that players find and share in order to advance the story.
  • Gamejack (or ARGjack): An individual or action that is considered a deliberate attack on the game. Examples of this include false drops, or an individual who is not part of the ARG but pretends to be in order to confuse and distract players.
  • Lurker: A player who who follows the game or discussion without directly participating.
  • Puppetmaster: An individual involved in designing and/or controlling an ARG. The true identity of a puppetmaster may or may not be known.
  • Shill: An individual associated with the puppetmaster who poses as player.
  • This Is Not A Game (TINAG): The defining mantra of alternate reality gaming which dictates that the game should not behave like a game and instead exists in a fully-realized world where characters function like real people. The game itself does not acknowledge that it is a game, it does not have an acknowledged ruleset for players, and all action takes place in real-time and is not replayable.

Common Abbreviations

  • IG: In Game
  • OOG: Out Of Game
  • IC: In Character
  • OOC: Out Of Character
  • PM: Puppetmaster
  • TINAG: This Is Not A Game
  • IRC: A chat program often utilized in alternate reality games to solve puzzles and discuss drops

External links

Wikipedia also has an article about ARGs.