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Monday, February 13, 2006

ARGs going antagonistic?

The new media darling genre, Alternate Reality Gaming, has always had one factor to set it apart from other forms of play: the community detective. Largely, groups of players team together and try theories and search for clues to solve puzzles over other players. ARGN asks whether this factor isn't starting to take a more antagonistic turn, as players team up with the gamemasters and gamemasters infiltrate the player groups:

So which is it? Is it a good practice and a natural evolution in the gaming realm? Is this a bad idea contrary to the ideals upon which Alternate Reality Games were founded? Let's talk, shall we?

In Project Ashcroft 3, a player was feeding the "Secret" information within the game to an in-game shady character. This prompted such a strong reaction within the rest of the players that most tended to "sanitize" previous posts by erasing them, to ensure further information was not leaked to a potential "bad guy".

While this is a more extreme example of the actions and reactions that are caused by such an adversarial role, there are many examples of "factionizing" within Alternate Reality Games in history:

Weephun, now a legend amongst those who played I Love Bees, made the infamous decision to assist "The Operator" in capturing "The Sleeping Princess", and in the process, earned the distinction of the title: "Rat Bastard".
-- Building Fences - An Editorial

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