Where Are The ARGs?

March 8, 2007

Recently I had the opportunity to play a very-mini-ARG called “Double Dare” where we produced a little drama involving a shadowy game of manipulation. They pretended to be using a much more complex series of contacts than it turned out they did, so in order to keep things fun I never told them I had “peeked behind the curtain”. I also kept from pointing out that, you know, there were all of these big plot holes. It was a bit weird really… them gaming me, me gaming them, all in the name of some decent reading. We talked about it afterwards and it’s all good.

Actually, it was lots of fun, as ARGs (Alternate Reality Games) tend to be. It’s like a statistics-free RPG that you play in as many different media as you can. It feels real, even when you know better. I started thinking about them again today when somebody sent me this article (thanks Paul) about “Year Zero”. It’s a reasonably interesting ARG set up as a promotional for Nine Inch Nails. My schedule is pretty booked up these days and taking on another ARG on top of the ones I’m already following would probably kill me, but it got me thinking…

Didn’t somebody say that Jane McGonigal was in SL recommending ARGs as learning tools? Did that ever happen?

I didn’t spot anything on her site, but I found a synopsis of the Alternate Reality Panel held last November over at Just Virtual. His article says: “I haven’t quoted much from the panelists themselves as they will be on the recording coming up at the Future Salon site […]” but unfortunately they didn’t put anything up either. In fact, despite all the hype, dozens of articles announcing the event and a BoingBoing link on top of it, nobody seems to have recorded the event. Great.

Infocult had an interesting discussion about ARGs in SL. There was some really good back-and-forth in the comments, and Gary Hayes’ linked article “ARGs in Virtual Spaces” was pretty cool, but what really stood out was his claim that he had produced some in-world ARGs already. Unfortunately, no records of those seem to be anywhere either.

So I go to my old favorite ARG sites and start hunting for SL stuff there. ARGNet – nothing. Unfiction – nope. Immersion Unlimited – strike 3.

Doesn’t anybody have anything about actual, functioning ARGs in Second Life? Am I going to have to make one myself? Am I…

… hmmmm…

I’ll get back to you.


  1. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at one of those… I’m a writer who just finished his first book, and trying to sell it in SL.

    I could help with story and details and what not.

  2. Great post.
    A few points:

    The preservation issues for ARGs and SL are each pretty huge, and get worse when combined. I wonder if the Lindens are getting business offers for in-world archiving functions.

    This is also a point for Web 2.0 and SL convergence. Blogs, wikis, etc are fine tools for playing ARGs, for sharing information, Q+A, etc. But SL doesn’t really have much in the way of such tools, nor easy hooks to the Web 2.0 world. If I’m looking at an iobject in SL, trying to find, say, some steg, or puzzle over a code, it would be nice not to have to flee the SL client and go back to Flock or Firefox.

    I gave several presentations and workshops on ARGS and education
    in 2005-2006. Here’s one post, with materials.

  3. unFiction has a Second Life ARG ready and waiting…


  4. Been trying to myself getting involved with SL has taken so much of my time.lol GREAT GAME

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