What are Alternate Reality Games?
An alternate reality game (ARG) is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants’ ideas or actions.
The form is defined by intense player involvement with a story that takes place in real-time and evolves according to participants’ responses, and characters that are actively controlled by the game’s designers, Players interact directly with characters in the game, solve plot-based challenges and puzzles, and often work together with a community to analyze the story and coordinate real-life and online activities.
ARGs generally use multimedia, such as telephones, email and mail but rely on the Internet as the central binding medium.
ARGs are growing in popularity, with new games appearing regularly and an increasing amount of experimentation with new models and subgenres. They tend to be free to play, with costs absorbed either through supporting products (e.g. collectible puzzle cards fund Perplex City) or through promotional relationships with existing products (e.g. I love bees was a promotion for Halo 2, and the Lost Experience and FIND815 promoted the television show Lost). However, pay-to-play models are not unheard of.
ARGs are now being recognized by the mainstream entertainment world: The Fallen Alternate Reality game was in the fall of 2007 awarded a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement for an Interactive Television Program. ReGenesis Extended Reality won an International Interactive Emmy Award in 2007 and in April 2008 The Truth About Marika won the iEmmy for Best interactive TV service. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts recognises Interactivity as a category in the British Academy Television Awards.