Since I’ve decided to start a blog on alternate reality games, I thought it would be a good idea to explain what I think my credentials are in this field, since ARGs are a rather niche and complex beast (ahhhh, see what I did there?)
What does the TARDIS have to do with my research on ARGs? Read below the cut to find out.
I very first learned about ARGs about three years ago in my very first Communication class as a freshman. The final question of my Mass Media take home exam asked us to examine the work of Jane McGonigal and several other ARG design companies (their names escape me now, but I’m sure 42 Entertainment was among them). As soon as I started researching, I was entranced. Games played in real world space? Surely nothing that awesome could exist. But exist they did. I remember distinctly writing on my exam to my professor “THIS IS AWESOME” before turning it in.
In my subsequent Communication classes, ARGs kept cropping up here and there, especially in my class on Transmedia Storytelling. I studied them in more depth here, learning about The Beast and Perplex City, and eventually I worked in a group with two other students to actually create our own ARG for our campus. We put it together in less than three weeks, and it was the most rewarding, entertaining thing I think I’ve ever done at Trinity. The end result was less than satisfactory (students who were intended to be players couldn’t make the jump from the online clues to the real world clues despite our almost forceful guidance), but it was still an eye-opener into what I could do with my creative and logistical skills.
This year, as an undergraduate senior I am working on my year-long Honors Thesis, which is essentially a course in which I do independent study in a specific area of focus. I decided to focus on ARGs and their promotional uses, since most of the major ARGs have promotional tie-ins (The Beast for A.I., Why So Serious for The Dark Knight, I Love Bees for Halo 2 , etc). I had actually studied this idea in my public relations class several semesters previously. However, what I also noticed was that ARGs were only being used to cater to a rather non-mainsteam audiences, usually ones that are already heavily involved in fringe gaming. Therefore, only a small demographic is being reached by ARGs. When I realized this, I decided that this was something that I could focus on– how could ARGs reach a larger demographic and therefore promote to wider range of people so that more people could experience the awesomeness that are ARGs?