I found it to be pretty interesting, although the author had some politician blood running through his veins when answering questions. The text was right there, but it didn't actually mean or answer anything. Basicly, it's about Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG). Do you people remember ilovebees, the Halo 2 marketing ploy? I found it extremely cool! It's a page you wouldn't normally care about.
Then I stumbled upon this. First I went "oh godamn.. This guy's one year younger than me and dead!". What you see there is actually an ARG page for BBC's new pet project where the viewers of that news channel will, together, try to solve the mystery behind this made up persons death. Now, that sounds very cool! Except that in no way is the page marked as fake, or part of a game, because that is considered "breaking the immersion".
Do we really need that depth of immersion? Do we really need a bunch of professionally made web pages about people who have died, gotten kidnapped or raped - that aren't true? For the sake of "entertainment"?
Now I might sound like that Jack Thompson lawyer, that's not my meaning. I'm not arguing against these kinds of games, only that they should be marked somehow.
After reading this I got even more convinced. Now, think about all the persons in real danger that couldn't get through to 911 because the line was busy (flooded) by people who didn't listen that carefully when the news on the radio said that the world was being attacked by Martians.
To reiterate what I mean, I think ARG sounds really fun - for the players. How do we get the non-players out of this? It's hard. Because ARG suggests that clues to a game should be in ads or news in newspapers and the like. But how do we go about not disturbing a non-players life?
I asked the author of that book about this and his answer was that some people just don't want to "disconnect from the game because their life is boring without it". Wait, back up. That sounds like a psycho :/ Should we really let him continue playing? I drew the analogy of a bartender at a bar, if a guy that's way to drunk asks for more alcohol - he can be denied, for his own health (and the bars reputation). How do we do this in ARG?
We already have problems with parents are attacking Rockstar because they themselves bought a game that's marked T (17+) for their 14 year old and the kid then patched it to show some polygons with skin-coloured texture having sex. (I won't point out how weird I think that sex should be worse than violence. *oops*). But at least we're trying there! And the person has to acquire the game to be part of it.
Most of us already "filter" the information we get from Teh Intarweb (TM). I can for one say that my mom doesn't. And if I were to sign up for a ARG where they would phone me at home and threaten me because I'm getting too close to the truth (nearing the end of the game) then I would think it would be freakishly awesome! But I can tell you now that my mom would not find it funny. Heck, she'd probably call the police and force them to put us on some witness protection program and shave my dog :(
Don't mix players and non-players! Think of my doggie! :(
So I propose a discussion. What's the limit of the immersion in a ARG? Where should we draw the line and how do we separate the players from the non-players? Should we even do that?