List of alternate reality games

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An alternate reality game (ARG) is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants' ideas or actions.

Name Year Developer Promoting Story summary Gameplay summary Scale Status
Ong's Hat 1999 Independent N/A A predecessor to the traditional ARG, Ong's Hat encompasses a conspiracy theory/urban legend about Princeton professors in the ghost town of Ong's Hat, New Jersey discovering a means of interdimensional travel. Puzzle solving by online communities. Very influential.[1] Complete
Majestic (video game) 2001 Anim-X Science fiction thriller based on a Majestic 12 shadow government conspiracy theory. Receiving clues and solving puzzles to unravel the story. Sent messages via AIM (AOL Instant Messenger), and via voice phone calls. Very influential. recognized as the "Best Original Game" at E3 in 2001 and one of the five "Game Innovation Spotlights" at the Game Developers Choice Awards in 2002. Complete
The Beast 2001 Microsoft A.I. Artificial Intelligence A murder mystery set in the future featuring artificial intelligences. Puzzle solving by online communities. Rewards in the form of new websites and videos. Very influential. Complete
I Love Bees 2004 42 Entertainment Halo 2 An AI from the Halo 2 universe is stranded in our world and needs help. Puzzle solving by online communities. Information released by phone calls to public telephones. Rewards in the form of new websites and videos. 600,000+ players.[2] Complete
Last Call Poker 2005 42 Entertainment Gun A cursed gun, passed down through generations, threatens the granddaughter of its last owner. Puzzle solving by online communities. Real world missions in cemeteries. Online poker with dead characters. Rewards in the form of new stories and videos. Over 500,000 active participants. Complete
The Charlotte Mystery 2006 AFI Five people leave messages to each other about five types of flowers, which led to invitations to private shows by the band AFI. Clues containing URLs, phone calls, MySpace and Aim profiles, in-person visits to a comic store and a park, a riddle in French, Craiglist listings. Complete
The Lost Ring 2008 AKQA McDonald's Six Olympians from another world came to help us save this one. Puzzle solving by online communities. Real world missions. A new Olympic sport "The Lost Sport" was introduced. 3.000.000 players from over 150 countries. Complete
Commander Video 2008 Bit.Trip Beat A mysterious persona known as Commander Video issued missions to a group of ten "recruits." Puzzle solving, currently, done by online communities. Email correspondence, Twitter, and various Internet interactions are the areas of play. Complete
Year Zero 2007 42 Entertainment Year Zero(album) Set in a dystopian future where the government surveys everyone. Players solve puzzles, listen to recordings, and watch movie clips, to gain more info and find sites. Complete
Xi 2009 nDreams PlayStation Home It was set in secret areas in the world of PlayStation Home where users helped to find Jess and the meaning of Xi. Users solved puzzles, watched video clips, and did objectives in and out of Home to gain more information to help find Jess and the meaning of Xi. Users searched in Home as well as in the real world depending on the puzzle or objective. Over 5 million visits Complete
The Davenport Papers 2009 Brigham Young University students The Book of Jer3miah The Davenport Papers was an ARG tie-in to the Webby award-nominated webseries The Book of Jer3miah. Clues were hidden in the webseries itself, related websites, and around the Brigham Young University campus. Complete.
Lewis Hamilton: Secret Life 2010 Reebok Centered around Lewis Hamilton, a secret agent in the game, showcasing a new Reebok technology such as RunTone or ZigTech. Players worked together to solve puzzles and complete tests online, on mobiles and in the real world. 637,000 players from over 154 countries Complete
Conspiracy For Good 2010 The company P Various charities Tim Kring's narrative focused on charity and against the fictional corporation Blackwell Briggs exploiting Africa Players cooperated online, on mobiles and in the real world. Four big events took place in London during summer 2010. Gamers on Unfiction, on the game web and in the streets of London during the summer events Complete
A Map of the Floating City 2011 Thomas Dolby A Map of the Floating City (album) Set in a dystopian dieselpunk past, a global cataclysm has left the world's inhabitants suffering from amnesia and struggling to move north to the "Floating City" to escape the rising temperatures. Players worked cooperatively and competitively as tribes to collect items, make inventions, solve a mystery, and move north. The game was unique in that the inventory was all based on lyrics from Dolby's back-catalog and (at the time) upcoming album of the same name. The winning coalition of tribes received a private concert as a prize. Worldwide Complete
Potato Sack 2011 Valve Portal 2 and 13 indie games GLaDOS of Portal is attempting to reboot herself. Clues were hidden in a selection of 13 independent games. Solving puzzles using clues found in aforementioned games Complete
Phrenic 2014 Mike Vogel N/A "A futuristic thriller about cloning and genetic enhancements."[3] Interactive "counseling session" with a consultant who secretly asks for help. Respond to messages and make decisions to gather information about the mysterious company, Life Identical.
Oxenfree 2016 Night School Studio Oxenfree Based on the game, the Oxenfree ARG delves into the true ending of the game and the secrets that the teenage characters face. The community of the game work together to translate Morse Code, keep up with Twitter feeds, travel to locations, and call phone numbers to solve the mystery. ~900 members of the subreddit though no community headcount has been taken. Complete
Frog Fractions 2 2014 Twinbeard Frog Fractions 2 A sequel to the Flash game Frog Fractions funded through Kickstarter, would only be revealed at the conclusion of this ARG, with clues hidden in a number of other games. Podcasts by the developers, to an Obama Shaving Simulator, to real life events such as Indiecade and ARG-specific events around Berkley and LA.[4] Complete
The Black Watchmen 2015 Alice & Smith N/A Billed as the first permanent Alternate Reality Game, players join the ranks of The Black Watchmen, a paramilitary group dedicated to protecting the public from dangerous phenomena beyond human understanding: including ritualistic murder, occult secret societies, and the paranormal. Puzzle solving mainly by individuals, but acts in a similar fashion to community puzzle solving ARGs. Complete
Afterbirth 2015 Edmund McMillen The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth An ARG that began with the release of the Afterbirth DLC for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. Upon conclusion, a new playable character called "The Keeper" was implemented.[5] Puzzle solving by online communities. Complete
Sombra 2016 Blizzard Overwatch Clues and ciphers referencing Sombra, a new playable character, were found in various developer updates and short animations released by Blizzard.[6] Puzzle solving by online communities. Complete
Hello Neighbor 2017 tinyBuild, DynamicPixels Unknown Clues in the Alpha releases of Hello Neighbor are leading to the announcement of a new release. Incomplete. Puzzle solving, horror, adventure and general entertainment. Ongoing
Waking Titan 2017 Hello Games No Man's Sky Puzzle solving Complete
Derelict Radio 2017 The Closet Gamer No Craigslist ads have appeared in Vancouver and Indianapolis for strange items. A book and a coin (https://vancouver.craigslist.ca/van/atq/d/mapo-de-animaj-moneroj/6360789372.html). There is a podcast called Derelict Radio (http://theclosetgamer.podbean.com/) that appears to be chronicling events around a group of people calling themselves The Resentful. Mostly unknown. Calls for participation on a forum.
Terminal 00 ? Angus Nicneven No A mysterious ARG that seems to be an info page about Angus at the same connecting to his books. It also has a point and click adventure style. Point and click Small number of people, a Reddit page (archived) , and a subreddit . Inactive
TheSunVanished 2018 No An ARG where the sun has disappeared and all power has stopped. Dangerous beings utilizing flashing lights to kill or convert humans into strange creatures roam the earth in search of survivors. Based on Twitter, occasional polls are posted and some tweets are responded to. 417,000+ followers. Ongoing
Max2019 2018 Raddical and Zoopyhigh on Tumblr No A Tumblr bot, via private messages, links several people to a neocities website which leads to the blog of an ill girl. The goal is to save her and her guardian angel from Limbo while evading a mysterious Angelic government. Following updates on several Tumblr blogs and a neocities website, as well as sending private messages to the Tumblr blogs. Deciphering audio, SSTV images, and digging through website source code. 2000+ Tumblr users congregated over three major discord servers, one of which has amassed 2,500 members. Complete
DEMA 2018 (Ongoing) Twenty One Pilots Trench (album) The ARG tells the story of a man named Clancy, escaping from an oppressive organization called DEMA. The ARG was created by alternative band Twenty One Pilots to promote their new album, Trench. It included a cryptic series of websites (all hosted by dmaorg.info) with images, letters from the main character, and codes to decipher. It was discussed and solved in both a Reddit megathread and a Discord server. The ARG ended when Twenty One Pilots announced the end of their hiatus and released two songs from the album Trench, Jumpsuit and Nico and the Niners (both of which contain themes and characters from the ARG). 2000+ Twenty One Pilots fans Compete
HUMINT 2018 Cold Code Labs No HUMINT claims to follow in the footsteps of The Black Watchmen as a persistent ARG, but takes it a step further by merging location-based mobile game technology with the puzzle/task oriented nature of the ARG in a Cold War themed global battle of espionage. Players will be able to join the intelligence agencies of various world superpowers and conduct dead drops, surveillance runs, plant bugs, identify key targets, and other clandestine operations. Additionally, HUMINT claims it will introduce more depth to the location based genre by including virtual rooms at each locations that players can access by scanning various objects in public buildings such as signs or artwork.[7] Puzzle solving by individuals and teams. The game also introduces the challenges of tradecraft such as evasion, detection, etc.[8] Ongoing
Fortnite ARG 2018 Epic Games[9] Fortnite Puzzle solving by online communities. Followed by users of the primary game.[10] Ongoing
Seven Gates ARG 2018 The Game Theorists An ARG that is directed towards viewers of the shows Game Theory and Film Theory from Youtuber MatPat. Clues span across many different videos in the respective channels where gates are unnlocked and have puzzles which are hinted at or have to be deciphered by players working together. Puzzle solving by online communities

and teams of players.

Viewers of the shows Game Theory and Film Theory, as well as GTLive. Ongoing

Media with ARG themes or elements[edit]

Television[edit]

Films[edit]

Books[edit]

Webseries[edit]

Music[edit]

Podcasts[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ McMahon, Chris (May 2013) "The Rise Of The ARG: games™ investigates alternate reality games and what the future has in store for the curious experiment."
  2. ^ McGonigal, J. (2008) "Why I Love Bees: A Case Study in Collective Intelligence Gaming."
  3. ^ "Phrenic". Phrenic World. Retrieved 12 Aug 2017.
  4. ^ "Frog Fractions 2 - Game Detectives Wiki". wiki.gamedetectives.net. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  5. ^ "Afterbirth ARG - Game Detectives Wiki". wiki.gamedetectives.net. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  6. ^ "Sombra ARG - Game Detectives Wiki". wiki.gamedetectives.net. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  7. ^ http://www.humint.app
  8. ^ http://www.humint.app
  9. ^ "What is an ARG? Everything you need to know about Alternate Reality Games". Plarium. 2018-08-29. Retrieved 2018-10-30. A recent - and incredibly exciting - alternate reality game campaign was held for Epic Games' juggernaut Fortnite.
  10. ^ Goslin, Goslin. "Fortnite ARG heats up as fans find llamas all across Europe". Polygon. Retrieved 2018-10-30.