Alternate Reality Gaming or ARG is getting a lot of attention in the gaming industry press these days.

An ARG is a game that deliberately blurs the line between the in game and out of game experiences. Often events that happen inside the game reality will 'reach out' into the players life in order to bring them together. Elements of the plotline may be provided to the player in almost any form, some of those used have been:

  • e-mail
  • websites, both those obviously connected with the game and those innocent looking
  • phone calls to a players home, cell or work phone
  • snail mail
  • newspaper articles or classifieds
  • chat/aim/icq and so on - the games have been known to initiate conversation
  • IRC channels

These games often have a specific goal of not only involving the player with the staff or fictional characters but of connecting them to each other. Many game puzzles can be solved only by the collective efforts of multiple players. Players however may be driven by conflicting motivations and thus not always be trustworthy.

Brief history

  • One of the earliest large scale examples of this was the EA game known as Majestic. Though the game itself suffered commercial failure and had significant problems, it remains a useful initial case study for the genre.
  • The most successful ARG to date has been Beast from Microsoft, a game created to promote the movie A.I. and something of a cultural phenomena when it was released.


  • ARG - the abbreviation for Alternate Reality Game
  • Beast - the promotional game by Microsoft for the movie A.I.
  • Beasting - to play an ARG
  • Cloudmakers - the original collective play group that took on Beast. They are also credited with coining most of the terminology.
  • Collective Detective - the term used for a team that works together to solve a game or puzzle.
  • Curtain - the layers of plot, technology and social contract between the players and the PuppetMasters
  • Evan Chan - the fictional character murdered in Beast.
  • Guide - a narrative of the experiences of gameplay, including the process of clue discovery and puzzle solving.
  • Metaheads - The people who focus on the big picture of the game, not just the smaller puzzles.
  • PuppetMasters - the usually secret group that controls a ARG
  • Rabbit Hole - the initial page or clue that drives the player into the game.
  • Trail - a list of sites, clues and other items found during gameplay


  • : Alternate Reality Gaming Network - news and information
  • - the first famous group of the genre
  • - a news and fan site for ARG's.

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