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Posted 2006-03-05 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Joyce Schwarz of Hollywood 2020 contributed an article to iMedia Connection last week entitled "Alternate Reality Gaming 101." Unfortunately, the article reads like one of those hastily-researched pieces written by a marketer who doesn't really understand the medium. Schwarz seems to have gathered her material from a variety of online sources, and was obviously inspired by an earlier article on ARGs published by CNET--about a week before hers went live.

In the CNET article, author John Borland wrote: "The alternate-reality games have their roots in role-playing, in old text video games like 'Zork,' and in real-life geocaching, treasure hunts played with GPS, or Global Positioning System, devices."

In the iMedia Connections article, Schwarz wrote: "Alternate Reality Games may find their roots in role-playing from old text video games like 'Zork' or in real-life geocaching GPS technology treasure hunts."

If you have to pick one Alternate Reality Game article to read today, make it Borland's. But for what it's worth, I don't see any relationship between Zork and Alternate Reality Games beyond both having a relationship to imaginary places. I agree that ARGs have roots in role-playing games, but RPGs didn't originate as electronic text adventures. Bryan Alexander has posted a partial list of antecedents to alternate reality games if you're interested in tangential roots to modern ARGs.
 
     
 
   
 
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Comment posted by csven
March 5, 2006 @ 10:49 pm
     
 
Ouch.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by joycecom
March 7, 2006 @ 9:46 pm
     
 
Hi,for the record I pitched my column on 2/22/06. Thanks for the PR, people should probably read both articles -- to see how different they really are. Mine highlights Monopoly LIVE in London, Pink Panther in Europe, 5ive Days to Midnight (which I played extensively), Monk, Amex/Jet Blue's race which they rolled into an on-airline-only reality show. Tried to make it clear in the article that these events are ARG-like -- not true ARGs because the curtain is raised on many in advance. Watch for my next one on Advertising as content in creating virtual worlds! js
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
March 7, 2006 @ 10:02 pm
     
 
I'll be glad when someone in the biz brings the idea of advertising as content to the attention of that community. Last year the marketing people I approached couldn't comprehend it; they had absolutely no clue what was happening and little interest in learning. I suspect most of them still don't. But maybe a few articles will wake them up to the possibilities.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
March 8, 2006 @ 9:54 am
     
 
Csven, could you elaborate on what you mean by advertising as content? I think I know what you mean, but I just want to understand it better. Most ARGs are advergames, with the ad/content ratio varying on a per-game basis.

I'd cite the promotion for A.I. as one of the weakest ad/content ratios, as the game play (as I understand it) wasn't tied directly to the movie.

In the case of Perplex City, the product is the game, manifested as game cards. To play that game is to involve yourself directly in the brand. Edoc Laundry is the same way.

With the ReGenesis Extended Reality Game (I was the game designer on season 1 and the soon-to-launch season 2), the entire premise of the game and Extended Reality content hinged on the show's locales, plotlines, and characters. It's possible to play the game in isolation from the show, but not very easy. The two are quite integrated. High ad/content ratio here.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
March 8, 2006 @ 3:34 pm
     
 
Two examples:

1) the jar opener facsimile I made in Second Life last year based on the real one I designed (can see the real thing here - Link. I spoke with the marketing manager on the team about it - there were a couple of ways to leverage it for their purposes including embedding a link to their site - but he didn't understand.

2) companies could be releasing game model versions of real products into the mod community. I suggested this in '97-98 to my employer at the time; we were already exporting out to .vrml for our intranet use. Those objects could have been used. And now, with the new mapping techniques, both the original and the lower-rez version can be leveraged.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
March 8, 2006 @ 4:43 pm
     
 
Thanks, csven. I thought your ad/content comment was geared to ARGs specifically, but I see you were referring to digital games/virtual worlds.
 
     
 
     
   
 
 
     
 
     
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