"This is not a game"
This movie inspired the narrative for my ARG.
Set in the near future, in the world of Libria, there is no war, however emotions are suppressed, and artistic expression is forbidden. Citizens take a drug called Prozium, which hinders feeling. One of the Grammaton Clerics who enforce the ideals of the society, John Preston, misses a dose of his Prozium and begins to feel. He joins the underground resistance to overthrow those in power. The tagline for this movie is “In a future where freedom is outlawed, outlaws will become heroes.”
The themes of oppression, resistance and freedom are ones that I have tried to explore in my narrative. I also thought it tied in well to the theme of ‘a better world’, because it is a better world in the sense that there is no war, but on the other hand people are oppressed and there is no freedom. This juxtaposition was something I also wanted to explore in my ARG. Making the world a better place in one sense, can make it worse in another. The Government often tries to put laws in place with the aim of making Australia a better place, but this can have negative effects on other aspects of our lives, for example the laws on illegal immigrants. There are always two sides to the coin.
The Beast (Artificial Intelligence ARG)
The Beast was set in the future, with three overlapping rabbit holes into the game, all pointing to questions about a character, Jeanine Salla. Googling this character brought up various web pages set in the fictional world. Clues on these websites led players to Evan Chan, who mysteriously died on his AI enhanced boat. The players then join the investigation into Evan’s death. The game evolved as it went on, incorporating thirty in-game websites, a magazine, a sleep clinic, the coroner’s office and a hat shop. Players also had live conversations with game characters. This game was run over 12 weeks. Many of the puzzles in the game relied on some players possessing very particular knowledge on subjects, for example, one of their puzzles contained lute tablature. Players formed the Yahoo group called the Cloudmakers, to takle the game together.
I particularly liked the way this game encouraged collaboration between the players. They created puzzles that needed very specific skills from some players, which others might not have, which forced players to work together to solve them. I have reverberated this in the music puzzle in my game. Players need to read sheet music and determine which song it relates to. Not all players will know how to read sheet music, so this will require players to work together to unlock clues.
The Pirates Society
At the start of 2008, several universities received packages in the mail containing a letter with a url code: www.jointhepirates.com. Following this, stretch limousines showed up at these universities and random students were invited to go for a ride. In the limousine these students were played a video from the leader of the Pirates Society. Players who join the Pirates Society navigate a labyrinth of sham companies and the shady dealings of their CEO’s. More and more students joined the business thriller, where they have meetings with informants, decode dossiers, gain information. They discover a scientist who was bribed to falsify an export report is murdered. The players discover that the whole thing is a swindle worth billions with the goal of controlling the worlds water supply. Players have to bring down the network of sham companies through all the documents and evidence they gather.
I liked the way the rabbit hole in this game engaged students, with strange packages and limousines arriving on campus. This sparked the curiosity into the game which got so many students involved. That is why I decided that the rabbit hole for my game should involve physical interaction with the players, and giving certain students a character in the game right from the start. Also students who see the character around the campus might be interested to find out who it is which is why I will have the actor wearing a t shirt with the same code that is in the letter handed to students. I also liked how in this game the players are given the responsibility of bringing down these sham companies and revealing the truth. I have also given the players in my game the same powers.
Year Zero (Nine Inch Nails)
This game started with a code hidden on the back of a Nine Inch Nails tour t-shirt, leading people to a strange website that described a drug being given to the US population through the water supply to make them immune to biological warfare. The website posed that it was actually a drug used to control the population. A fan then found a USB drive in a toilet stall at a NIN concert containing an unreleased track from NIN’s new album, and embedded in the mp3 was a link to another website filled with people posting about topics such as the drug, and underground resistance, and sightings of a strange hand coming down from the sky. The websites are set in the future where the US has become a Christian fundamentalist state and civil rights have been dissolved. Fans pieced together the game’s story by cryptic clues found or handed out at NIN concerts, such as anti-government posters. As the game went on, the resistance became more and more organised and players were invited to live resistance meetings.
This game was so successful because it had immediate buy-in from the players – they were die hard fans of the band NIN. This made me realise that the game needed to have relevance to the audience I was going to target. That is why I chose to target QUT music students, because they obviously care enough of music to be studying it, and when they see the posters up around campus of music being banned, they will surely become curious. I also liked the narrative of this ARG, in that the government had done something bad and there was a resistance. This is similar to my ARG and I also liked the way the players were asked to join the resistance. This is also what happens in my ARG.