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Alternate Reality Gaming V2.0

Hemos posted more than 8 years ago | from the hopefully-no-one-will-sue-over-arg-2.0 dept.

66

ItsIllak writes "Alternate Reality Games [ARGs] have been bubbling under for the past 10 years now. Usually completely homebrew or attached to big budget productions, they have been used to create buzz around a game, product or movie. Perplex City have bucked that trend. Their ARG is completely independent of anything else, its entirely self contained. With fresh ideas on income generation and a $200,000 top prize to whomever finds the real life buried treasure - is this the future of an entirely new form of entertainment?"

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66 comments

Treasure hunt (2, Insightful)

Aussie (10167) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424089)

Not really new, they were called treasure hunts before.

Re:Treasure hunt (1)

LordNightwalker (256873) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424096)

Yup, I was expecting something along the lines of "The Game"... Wasn't there some game a couple years back that did something similar to that movie? With people getting phone calls and emails and stuff, kinda creepy...

Re:Treasure hunt (4, Informative)

SirBruce (679714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424129)

It was called Majestic. "The game that played you." Problem was, nobody really wanted to be called in the middle of the day to play a game when they were busy doing something else. Few people signed up to play it after the first free episode, and EA cancelled it not long thereafter.

The PerplexCity guys are really cool; met them at GDC this year and got some of their cards. But some of these puzzles and codes on them are really hard, and there are far better codebreakers and teams of puzzle solvers that will get to the cash long before I would, so I'm not really into the game. I guess that's their biggest barrier to acceptance -- puzzle freaks will probably love it, but the rest of us won't really feel rewarded for collecting a small number of points.

Bruce

Re:Treasure hunt (1)

mpeisenbr (816367) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424133)

I think that was 'Majestic'.

Re:Treasure hunt (2, Funny)

Ford Prefect (8777) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424313)

Yup, I was expecting something along the lines of "The Game"...

Aww, crap. I just lost. :-(

Re:Treasure hunt (1)

ginotech (816751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424521)

every time i see this one kid at my school, i always lose ;) i love the game.

Re:Treasure hunt (3, Insightful)

RedMagus77 (743500) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424120)

Still, with the ability to communicate in real time, as well as the ability of the contestants to search the net and contact other people across the globe for details, even if they were in the middle of no where (depending celluar reception), the parameters of the gaming enviroment can be expanded. You can have more obscure clues, drop hints at a moments notice, give false leads, or have other contestants band together for help, or have a lone wolf who gives out mis-information. Should be interesting, at least in my opinion.

Re:Treasure hunt (1)

Jeffool (675688) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424247)

Reminds me of "Reality TV," aka "Game Shows."

(Yes, with a few notable exceptions. And those you could call documentaries.)

Re:Treasure hunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15424324)

Pimania! By mel croucher, 1982. [worldofspectrum.org]

Re:Treasure hunt (2, Interesting)

Ricdude (4163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424388)

Reminds me of an updated version of Masquerade: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masquerade_(book) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Treasure hunt (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15424407)

you're definetly right on that one. as someone who's currently playing the game, I can tell you that the makers of PXC have pretty much explicitly said on mutiple occasions that they were directly inspired by Masquerade.

- toolazytocreateanaccount

Re:Treasure hunt (1)

Kuxman (876286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15425031)

2 words: "Rat Race"

Re:Treasure hunt (1)

Shadarr (11622) | more than 8 years ago | (#15425341)

Sure there have been treasure hunts before, but now it's all one big advertisement! The point of the game isn't to find the treasure, it's to get media coverage like this! Revolutionary!

Re:Treasure hunt (1)

Aussie (10167) | more than 8 years ago | (#15426189)

Mod me down all you like, it is still an old fashioned treasure hunt. Nothing new and nothing revolutionary.

Re:Treasure hunt (1)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 8 years ago | (#15426680)

Mod me down all you like, it is still an old fashioned treasure hunt. Nothing new and nothing revolutionary.

They've added the collectable-card mechanism to this game. They are hoping players are willing to shell out wads of cash buying the exact same puzzles over and over on the off chance they might find a "rare" puzzle that will actually help them progress.

It's a great idea...for 1996.

Re:Treasure hunt (1)

SixSided (977684) | more than 8 years ago | (#15427300)

You'll find the cards are more just an aside, adding to the story of the game rather than driving it. It's played in a community fashion, so progress is made in many ways, such as contact with the characters, but also often drives itself as the characters go about their lives and react to situations.

The cards are mainly just for the fun of solving and to get points on the leaderboard (which has no real influence on the story or game). The description in the article really can't do the game justice, come on over to #syzygy on irc.chat-solutions.org if you want to learn any more (Just tell 'em Six sent you). They always love new people in there.

David Blaine (4, Funny)

SushiFugu (593444) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424107)

Sounds similar to David Blaine's $100,000 Challenge [wikipedia.org] armchair treasure hunt that was placed in his book. I don't really care until they start hiding ebony armor and Nirnroot though...

Re:David Blaine (2, Funny)

Dr. GeneMachine (720233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424504)

Ebony? Nirnroot? Call me when they start giving out Skooma.

Perplexcity (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15424122)

PerplexCity is a fun game with all sorts of treasure hunts and rabbit holes. There's currently over 15000 players signed up to help find the cube. They are running a video competition at the moment..view all the entries here: http://www.youtube.com/groups_videos?name=perplexc ity [youtube.com] and my entry is this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiMRE_uSPlQ [youtube.com]

Re:Perplexcity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15487226)

It's the last day for voting for your video - how about this one [youtube.com] ?

What was that game... (1)

sl8r (104278) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424126)

There was an ARG posted in this months' Edge magazine... apparently started off with a "This page cannot be found" error message? Anyone know?

Grassroots ARG (4, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424148)

My qualm with most ARGs is that they exist solely as a password hunt. You find the door, and you get a cookie. Games like Beast and Majestic truly scared their players, because the line between game and reality was eerily thin.

I like games with immersion. I enjoy games where the player feels they have a role in the game.

I'm working on a grassroots/indie ARG at the moment that I don't want to talk about too much publicly. If anyone is interested, drop me an email at enderandrew AT gmail DOT com

Re:Grassroots ARG (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15424172)

This is not a password hunt. PxC differs from other ARG's because of all the different angles. The original article does not really highlight how good of an ARG this is. There has been live events in London and New York. We have had live chats with in game characters. In these chats, our words and actions determined where the story would go net. We've received mysterious leaked emails and recnetly started getting updates by text. Players have written a book to help an in game character gain access to an ancient book in a library. It's not your typical ARG, it's a whole other world. We even have out own wiki. There are multiple fans sites. I could go on forever. You cannot critcise or make comparisons until you have experienced Perplex City for yourself. www.perplexcity.com

Re:Grassroots ARG (1)

adrian_hon (145751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15425191)

Is scaring players the objective of alternate reality games? Do players really want to blur the line between game and reality? Many people used to complain about Majestic because they *didn't* want to receive phone calls in the middle of the night, and more current games like Regenesis cater for that fact by allowing you to choose the level of your immersion.

I enjoy games where players feel they have a role in the game as well. That's what we try to do in Perplex City, by giving players the chance to truly contribute in what's happening. But when you have tens or hundreds of thousands of players, you have to make a choice about where you want the game and story to go, since not all of the players will agree on a direction. It won't be possible to give all players a game-changing or story-changing role, and I think that's something that a lot of people do not realise.

[Disclaimer: I am the lead designer of Perplex City]

Re:Grassroots ARG (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15427068)

I haven't played your game, so my comments weren't necessarily direct at you. For what it is worth, I've heard good things about your game.

And no, I don't condone scaring people needlessly, or calling people at 2 in the morning. However, having immersive qualities and good atmosphere helps sell the ARG to the player.

And while not every player can feel they are the center of the story, one can certainly improve on most ARGs in how the player has no role in said story. You can do dead-drops, where certain players are responsible for picking up a physical clue and sharing it with the community. The PM staff can recognize and contact directly players who stand out from the community.

Players can be given choices that move the story forward.

What makes this an 'alternate' reality game? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15424160)

and not just a regular game? Hell, it isn't much more than Geocaching with a prize.

Re:What makes this an 'alternate' reality game? (2, Informative)

SixSided (977684) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424231)

Try this list of ingame sites for starters: http://perplexcitywiki.com/wiki/index.php?title=We bsites [perplexcitywiki.com] One of those is the newspaper site ( http://www.perplexcitysentinel.com/ [perplexcitysentinel.com] ) that has been updating for over a year now. Perplex City really does quite a job is creating it's own reality.

Re:What makes this an 'alternate' reality game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15424286)

yes i have to ask that too. i ve heard that alternate reality is used by the military to train soldiers and like that.
so why is this called alternate reality ?
and who would have the time to slove all those cryptic puzzles ?
In my opinion most of the video games are too much time consuming already.

Re:What makes this an 'alternate' reality game? (2, Informative)

donaldGuy (969269) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424848)

An ARG has to transcende multiple forms of media and blur the line between in-game and none in-game often to the point where it is hard to tell.

I think someone already posted it but a good definition can be found here

I have personaly been involved with ILoveBees/Haunted Apiary and Ourcolony (which is arguably not really an ARG) and I would like to say they are alot of fun, especially well created ones like those done by 4orty 2wo productions.

If you are really interested the place to get started is probably http://unfiction.com/ [unfiction.com] . It is a great resource and the forums are indespensible within the ARG community. There is also lot of information about what an ARG is and a good archive of history about previous ARGs (much of it is interesting, other parts of it is just ammusing, such as the tail of wheregif/whoregif [unfiction.com]

Re:What makes this an 'alternate' reality game? (2, Interesting)

adrian_hon (145751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15425178)

What makes Perplex City more than geocaching with a prize? How about the story that's being told over dozens of websites, in real time, to tens of thousands of people? How about the live events that have featured hundreds of players across the world, where they've chased spies in black helicopters and watched messages being flashed across the Thames from the London Eye? How about the distributed computing initiative that's seen over a thousand people trying to crack an encrypted puzzle?

[Disclaimer: I am the lead designer of Perplex City]

Re:What makes this an 'alternate' reality game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15515196)

It seems to me that what does NOT make this an "alternate reality game" is shown by comparing other games that have been called an "alternate reality game" to this one. "Perplex City" has much more to offer its players then games like "Ares Station" (which is called a 'multi-player novel' by its creators), "system.co.uk" and "Weight of Words"...just to name a few. "PPC" goes above and beyond the label it is given.

Alternate Reality Gaming is.... (0, Offtopic)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424250)

Someone who grew up on the Atari joystick (with the big red button) using the Nintendo Wii controller and still get beaten by a five-year-old while playing Super Mario. Except the Wii controller is a lot more expenseive to replace after being thrown against the wall.

FPS ARG (0, Offtopic)

Gunny101 (894783) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424253)

Paintball! Nothing beats a good outdoor scenario paintball to create a Battlefield-like alternate reality game!

http://www.Gunny.net/cam/pb [gunny.net] for video examples.

Re:FPS ARG (1)

Voltageaav (798022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424301)

I'm not in the Army, but Hurrah! anyway :)

They say it so it must be true (4, Informative)

kronocide (209440) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424261)

Another ad finds its way into /. article space. Even the link in the author's name is to a Perplex City movie.

Re:They say it so it must be true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15424364)

Got that right. Fits in nicely with their promotion:
"The videos will be rated and watched by the public for two weeks. (Feel free to run your own promotional campaign to drum up interest.) The film with the most 'views' at 5pm BST on Thursday 8 June will be declared the ubervideo, king of all digital films, and winner of the top prize as described above." from; http://www.perplexcity.com/community/competitions/ video/index.qbuild [perplexcity.com]
This /. post is purely for the gain of people involved and has no news merit

Re:They say it so it must be true (1)

ItsIllak (95786) | more than 8 years ago | (#15425660)

Why can't it have news merit too? In fact, getting the players to advertise is part of the point... I personally think that its part of the beauty of the whole thing. Tell me why this isn't an interesting new form of entertainment that fits in Games/Media on /.?

Re:They say it so it must be true (1)

ItsIllak (95786) | more than 8 years ago | (#15425279)

Well - yes and no. I submitted the story as a player of Perplex City - I'm not an employee. I do think it's a valid article - Perplex City is something new. I also put the video that I made as my homepage because it's a competition that's being run - the winner is the one with the most viewers.

That video again [youtube.com]

Interestingly - having a link in a slashdot article in the user link doesn't generate much clicking!

Re:They say it so it must be true (1)

admdrew (782761) | more than 8 years ago | (#15425667)

Interestingly - having a link in a slashdot article in the user link doesn't generate much clicking!

I moused over it, saw it was youtube, and was immediately disinclined to click on it. Also, given the fact that you submitted a slashvertisement, you're probably not going to get as many clicks as a real story would get.

The cycle repeats. (2, Informative)

Peganthyrus (713645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424276)

Perplex City has a treasure and prize at the end?

Why, it's Masquerade [bunnyears.net] , the collectible card game! There were about a dozen of these treasure-hunt puzzle books back in the eighties. Now they're just coming in different media.

Also, I call slashvertisement on this post.

Re:The cycle repeats. (1)

adrian_hon (145751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15425203)

Funny, I don't recall Masquerade having a story being told over dozens of websites, and over the radio, newspapers, IM, email, skywriting and live events featuring hundreds of players. Masquerade didn't have dozens of players writing a book together to advance the story, or thousands participating in a distributed computing initiative. I guess we must be thinking of different games.

[Disclaimer: I am the lead designer of Perplex City]

Re:The cycle repeats. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15425736)

Yup...What Adrian said... To the ignorant:Try before you buy! Why not play along with perplex city for a month or so, then give it a valid review ;-)

Re:The cycle repeats. (1)

Peganthyrus (713645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15426562)

*shrug* The capsule description in this story immediately put me in mind of 'Masquerade' and the dozen or so other treasure-hunt books that followed. I'm sure Perplex City is a fine example of this kind of narrative experiment, but like all the other ones I've heard of, and like 'Masquerade' and its ilk, I just look at them with faint bemusement and go back to storytelling modes whose entire story is there in one place, and doesn't require me to solve acrostics and crunch numbers and suchlike to get the next nugget of narrative. Adding in a collectible card wrinkle is a nice financial touch, too.

I do wonder how large the audience for this form of narrative is; my brief glimpses at things like the tru7h behind iLoveBees suggests that they attract a dedicated community, who loves solving it, and leaves behind a record that's pretty impenetrable to a casual passer-by. I'm not sure I could go try and read the ARG promoting AI if I wanted to, now - how many of the sites it was in are still around>

(Disclaimer: I have not looked at Perplex City. I've seen it mentioned on BoingBoing a couple of times. I've lost enough time to my own shared narratives lately without poking at someone else's.)

Re:The cycle repeats. (1)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 8 years ago | (#15427574)

are you just madlibbing a bunch of stock advertisement phrases every time you post, or what?

I mean, seriously, defending your product is one thing, but posting the same advertisement to everyone in a thread is just crossing the line.

The top player (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15424288)

Apparently, the top player lives in antarctica.

Re:The top player (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15424436)

Heh, he's GuiN, it's an old nickname of his regarding penguins, thus antartica :) The game (and loads of other ARG's including the official Lost one which started a few weeks ago) has a really good community, and in fact 9 of us met up in London last weekend for the London Expo (totally NOT what I expected, I heard expo and expected something E3-esque, ended up with lots of cosplay (which I now know what it means) and Klingons... :( )

Yeah, anyway, if you want to have a general chat with people about the game, find out what it's about or anything, head to irc.chat-solutions.org, channel #syzygy or #perplexcity (although syzygy is probably the one to go to)

Jeb

Version 2.0? (2, Funny)

Khuffie (818093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424329)

What happened to version 1.5? And does it run on Linux?

Re:Version 2.0? (1)

macmonkey55 (977678) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424371)

To be honest I've no idea what the number is there for. But in all fareness the description doesn't do Perplex City justice. It's not about the £100,000 reward (well it is) but I would still be playing without that. On the whole you get to meet nice people, do some fun challenges and puzzles and have a laugh. Perplex City is much more than that stupid ARG that EA made that nobody can remember the name of...:-)

slashdotted... real pretty like (1)

b00tang (696709) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424502)

I'm calling B.S. on their "temporarily down for maintenance" page. Anyone else think this is just a proper slashdotting and someone was smart enough to redirect all traffic to that page before their servers melted a hole to the center of the earth. It looks nicer than a 404 at least.

And besides if that is not the case, what does it mater, this is slashdot and unsubstantiated claims always get modded up right? right?

Re:slashdotted... real pretty like (1)

jojomodjo (977680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15424554)

It's not BS at all. It is having maintenace. Either that or it has been pulled doen because it can't cope with all the clicks /. is generating.

I want to play! (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15425050)

This looks like a seriously interesting game to me. So why do I just go play?

Because you have to buy the cards like Magic The Gathering, and each card is WAY too expensive. I do not care about the 'grand prize' that I have absolutely no chance of winning. I simply want to obtain the entire collection and have fun figuring out the puzzles.

If they'd made it a lot cheaper, I'd play. But then, with no cash reward, I suspect a lot of other people wouldn't have played, so it wouldn't exist anyhow.

Oh well, maybe some nice website will pirate all the cards for me after the contest is over. -sigh-

Re:I want to play! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15425139)

http://perplexcitycardcatalog.com/ [perplexcit...atalog.com] lists most of the cards

Re:I want to play! (1)

SixSided (977684) | more than 8 years ago | (#15427269)

The thing is the cards are pretty much separate from the narrative and game, people just buy them for the fun of solving the puzzles themselves, plus they are pretty damn cool too (there's a leaderboard too as well). I've only bought about 2 sets of packs myself (and won a few) and have been playing/following the story for over a year now.

Feel free to come on over to Unfiction, we love getting new people and there are a whole lot of resources for new players. Also, the irc room #syzygy on irc.chat-solutions.org normally has plenty of people in there who'd be happy to answer any question you might have.

Nope, St. Paul has been doing it for years. (1)

focitrixilous P (690813) | more than 8 years ago | (#15425236)

The Saint Paul Winter Carnaval hosts a similar treasure hunt every year. The person that can find the Winter Medallion hidden somewhere in a public park gets 5,000, and if they paid a couple bucks for an official button, they get 10,000. They fund the prize with button money, and a local newspaper pays for the right to be the only paper that can publish the clues.

I've been in the right park before, but sadly I've never been the first to find it. This usually empty park was filled with people turning over every inch of snow looking for it. What else is there to do in Saint Paul in the Winter?

This is just the same thing on a larger scale. It's hardly unique.

The man who bit off the dragon's hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15426047)

Have you heard of Thoreandan?
  The man who bit off the Dragon's hand
No blows from his sword ever did land
  So he bit off the Dragon's hand!

  Paws and clawsat the moment
    Could be the cause
      Of anyone here's demise!

When you're tired, you shouldn't retire
  in bad parts of town, they'll set you afire
As they burn you, a circle they form
  they intend to stay snug and warm!

  Paws and claws
    Could be the cause
      Of anyone here's demise!

Spoiler Alert! (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 8 years ago | (#15426090)

With fresh ideas on income generation and a $200,000 top prize to whomever finds the real life buried treasure...

It's buried under a big 'X'!

Re:Spoiler Alert! (1)

SirBruce (679714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15426631)

No, dummy, it's buried under a big 'W'. [imdb.com]

Bruce

Re:Spoiler Alert! (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 8 years ago | (#15426700)

Ah, yes. I was trying to remember whether it was an X or W. I guess I could have said it was under a giant T like in the Simpson's spoof of the chase.

Also, for all you know I was talking about the big X on treasure maps.

Say what? (1)

Porchroof (726270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15426283)

ItsIllak writes "Alternate Reality Games [ARGs] has been bubbling under for the past 10 years now. Usually completely homebrew or attached to big budget productions, it has been used to create buzz around a game, product or movie. Perplex City has bucked that trend. Its ARG is completely independent of anything else; it's entirely self contained. With fresh ideas on income generation and a $200,000 top prize to whomever finds the real life buried treasure -- is this the future of an entirely new form of entertainment?"

There now, that reads better.

The Game (1)

nomego (869651) | more than 8 years ago | (#15426890)

So someone finally saw 'The Game' with Michael Douglas?

Mister Gamer (1)

Internalist (928097) | more than 8 years ago | (#15429590)

From what I've seen there's a pretty big ARG subculture. The organization that I've come across that seems to do this best is http://www.mistergamer.com/ [mistergamer.com] . They're pretty mysterious (the so-so English on the website somehow adds to this), and the games are apparently really immersive and pretty expensive (e.g. spanning several months & countries and costing upward of $50K). If it seems like I'm using a lot of "seems" and "allegedly" it's because I got all of this information second-hand from someone who claims to have participated in one of their games, but was reluctant with details. Anyway, I've give a nut to have enough cash to do one of these.

Re:Mister Gamer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15430742)

Read Fowles' "The Magus?" Sounds similar to the 'god game' ways. Really interesting. It also sounds like their club fits right into that model too.

Where you can buy Perplex City cards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15429629)

Great to finally see a thread about Perplex City on Slashdot! I've been playing since the game came to the U.S. in March. Its amazing. You can buy cards now at www.insound.com and some random hobby shops... that it now i think. Yes insound.com a music site selling the cards, weird but kind of cool.

Such little interest... (1)

pojo (526049) | more than 8 years ago | (#15448831)

This story has come and gone, so I know no one will see this post, but still..

I wonder why there are so few comments? Some of the puzzles in this game really blow my mind, I wonder why the Slashdot community ignores it so? I agree there's an issue that on the Internet, in any game, there's always one or a few guys who seem to have all the time in the world to devote to that one thing, and you know you'll never catch up with them, because you have a real life to live. E.g. if you visit any of the games on miniclip.com [miniclip.com] they all have highscores that are in the stratosphere.

The solace for me is that it's fun to try to solve these types puzzles with other people. It's a social experience. I won't get the reward, but I'll have some unique memories (I sure remember Beast).

Also, every article on Slashdot that links to something commercial is a "slashvertisement." I don't know why those comments get modded +5.

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