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How far do YOU have to be entertained?

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The chat with the author of the book Beyond Reality was just in #gamedev and everyone asked a bunch of questions, especially me.

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.

Don't mix players and non-players! Think of my doggie! :(
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 :(

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?
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War of the worlds. Same issue. I agree with you though, they should be marked.

Then again AR games really aren't my thing. Not really intrested in being part of a viral marketing scheme. That and if you look at Majestic, which flopped horribly, there isn't enough people willing to play along to be a non-ad related ARG. (Then again wasn't really interested in Majestic either)

Personally I like to seperate my escapism from my daily life.

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Yes, the War of the Worlds ad was my second link.

As you, I haven't been grabbed by any ARG yet. The Nokia Game wasn't all that exciting, nor was that robot game where you run around town and "shoot" each other with the phone. Those are ideas that, to me, sound a lot more fun when you think about it than when you actually take part in it.

"Personally I like to separate my escapism from my daily life."
Good point. There's something about having your game somewhere you can go to when you want to escape from real life, and somewhere to walk away from when you want to return to real life, that attracts me. ARG blends that in a way that would disturb that balance, unless "they" separate the players from non-players (as my constant argument revolves around).

Just thought about a funny scenario though… You’re on a bus station and someone’s phone rings. He picks up and gets all stale.. starts sweating.. hangs up and runs away like an idiot screaming “how the hell did they find me?!” – all part of his wonderful AR gaming life =P

And if ARG’s are only useful for advertisement… then ugh! Go away!

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Guest Anonymous Poster


Ill the dog for ya, free of charge! No problem mate. Take care.. :P

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