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Gersande

Are RPGs (role playing games) and ARGs (alternate reality games) considered more or less equivalent?

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I'm doing some research on video games and education, and I'm finding a lot of papers make reference to an acronym I haven't encountered much: ARG, which stands for alternate reality game. In the paper I'm currently reading, it is often used in educational settings to teach second languages, for example.

Are RPGs (role playing games) and ARGs (alternate reality games) considered more or less equivalent, or are they actually quite distinct? I'm not seeing any mention of RPGs in these papers, and I'm wondering if the different acronym is because of the academic context rather than a consumerist/marketing context.

(I'm really not sure if this question belongs on this forum, if it doesn't, let me know and I'll take this elsewhere. Thank you so much!)

 

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RPGs are like Dungeons and Dragons. Mostly medieval fantasy (some are futuristic cyber-punk games). You mostly play wizards and warriors battling monsters and save the kingdom.

 

Alternate Reality games (never heard them called ARGs before) are like Second-Life. They usually don't have an objective, but are like building an alternate version of your life. You buy a house, decorate it, open a buisness, etc... There is no real objective to the game, except interacting with other people. Alot of the time it is also more realistic. You live in a regular city (or a cruise ship as I recently saw in one game).

 

Some RPGs imitate some Alternate reality games and allow you to buy a house. But that is usually not the object of the game. You still have to go battle dragons (or robots) in order to have fun.

 

ARGs tend to be targeted at a more grown up crowd. An ARG is like a 3D fake Facebook where everyone has an alter-ego.

 

RPGs, while also played by grown-ups, also cater to younger audiences. (I'm no child, and I'd play an RPG over an ARG any day)

Edited by SillyCow

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An ARG will tie-in to your real world experiences to put you into the state of the game. They often have elements that take place away from the computer, are widely social, and sometimes left with intentionally vague direction to encourage participants to collaborate together and share clues.

 

For example, Microsoft sent packages to participating players, hid clues in the content of seemingly unrelated websites, and arranged real-world phone calls and meetings to further the narrative of their ARG "I Love Bees," which ran as an advertising campaign for another product. You can get a better idea of what a largescaleARG is like by seeing how that one played out.

 

I'd put it this way: An RPG typically takes you into it's world, and an ARG takes itself into yours. They're gaining traction in education and awareness campaigns because the immersion forces the player to think in real world terms, and use their own capabilities rather than the (detached) limitations of a regular video game. A World without Oil was designed as an ARG to bring attention to that issue, and Tower of Babel is being used as a language building exercise.

 

Here's a few more useful links:

ARGs on WikiPedia

ARGology

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I voted you down, but in retrospect, your post was a good one (helpful, polite, and informative), it was just that I think the information is inaccurate - at least, within the meager limitations of my own knowledge!
Unfortunately I can't undo the downvote, so I upvoted one of your posts in another thread - feel free to correspondingly downvote mine if you think my post is inaccurate or unhelpful.

 

Sir , I have never been so politely down-voted. Kudos to you, I shall regard this noblest of down-votes as an ode to your chivalrous nature. 

Edited by SillyCow

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It's been answered above, but I'll reiterate: they are not at all the same.

For a good group of games to compare, look at Skyrim (a "western RPG"), Final Fantasy VII (an archetypal Japanese RPG), and Missing (the original or the sequel, either is an Alternate Reality Game which I would classify as a puzzle game).

Genre names aren't so precisely defined that there are bright lines separating them, but I would go so far as to say that neither an RPG or ARG designation ever suggests the other designation as well.

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No, they're not equivalent. ARGs don't have (on the surface) anything to do specifically with RPGs over other genres. Note RPGs are a very broad category of games now, since they include a huge number of games that go by that term. Not all RPG videogames are actually "Role Playing".
The use of the term "RPG" (always meaning Role-playing games) has different meanings whether you are talking about videogame RPGs or non-videogame RPGs. If you are talking about non-videogame RPGs, then yes, ARGs and non-videogame RPGs do have alot of overlap, but aren't equivalent

 

Servant of the Lord, your reply was brilliant. Thank you so much!

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