Alternate Reality Game

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Synonyms: ARG
See also: Interactive Fiction, Ben Drowned, Marble Hornets, EverymanHYBRID
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Alternate Reality Games, often called ARGs are a type of transmedia narrative that heavily relies on participation from the audience. It's similar to Interactive Fiction in that it requires active participation in the narrative, but differs in that a player in an ARG can sometimes actively affect the narrative by interacting directly with characters within the narrative. For example, players may have to physically go to a location and retrieve an object from a location in order to complete the narrative.[1] The genre also tends to rely heavily on the use of ciphers and puzzles meant to serve as clues for the audience and the use of teamwork to solve them. Essentially, an ARG can often be described as a story that contains an inherent social aspect.

Not to be confused with an "Augmented Reality Game," such as Pokemon Go, which is the integration of video and audio with the player's surroundings in real time.

Common Genres

  • Horror is probably the most well known type of ARG, ranging from the creepypasta Ben Drowned to the marketing for The Blair Witch Project, which was a sort of proto-ARG. It's also a popular genre on Youtube, particularly ones that center around the Slenderman mythos.
  • The Television Tie-In is exactly what it sounds like: an ARG created as an experience intended to complement the viewing of the show. Lost and Heroes are prominent examples of this type of ARG. Most recently, Mr. Robot utilizes many ARG elements where viewers can go to websites or IP addresses featured in the show and unlock more of the show's lore.[2]
  • Similarly, many companies have turned to ARGs for the purposes of Advertising. Overwatch released an ARG to tease the release of the character Sombra and the second Halo game was advertised with an ARG called "I Love Bees".[3][4]



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