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||Story summary||Gameplay summary||Scale|
|Ong's Hat||1999||Independent||Legend Tripping, on-line experience.||Puzzle solving by online communities.||Very influential.|
|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.|
|The Beast||2001||Microsoft||Murder mystery set in the future featuring human like robots.||Puzzle solving by online communities. Rewards in the form of new websites and videos.||Very influential.|
|I Love Bees||2004||42 Entertainment||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.|
|Last Call Poker||2005||42 Entertainment||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.|
|The Lost Ring||2008||AKQA||6 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.|
|Commander Video||2008||Puzzle solving, currently, done by online communities. Email correspondence, Twitter, and various Internet interactions are the areas of play.||New; Ten recruits are the major players thus far.|
|Year Zero||2007||42 Entertainment||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.|
|Xi||2009||The world's first console and virtual world-based ARG created by nDreams. 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|
|Gbanga Famiglia||2010||Explore real-world locations to take-over your city and become the Supreme Mafioso.||Join or start your own Mafia Famiglia and take-over virtual establishments you discover whilst walking around the city. Establishments are linked to real-world establishments, so players must physically move between locations. A successful take-over depends on the Famiglia's power, determined by the number of Famiglia members and the cash total for special items collected.||Worldwide|
|Lewis Hamilton: Secret Life||2010||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|
|Conspiracy For Good||2010||The Company P||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|
|A Map of the Floating City||2011||Thomas Dolby||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|
|Potato Fool's Day||2011||Valve||GLaDOS of Portal is attempting to reboot herself. By playing a selection of 13 independent games, you can assist her.||Solving puzzles using clues found in aforementioned games||Anyone who purchased the Potato Sack on Steam|
|Phrenic||2014||Mike Vogel||"A futuristic thriller about cloning and genetic enhancements."||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||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.|
|Frog Fractions 2||2014||Twinbeard||A sequel to the Flash game Frog Fractions was successfully funded through Kickstarter, but the catch was: it would not be named Frog Fractions 2 or likely resemble Frog Fractions, it will not be credited to Twinbeard Studios as the creators and its release date would not be revealed. The launch of the ARG began with clues within the pitch video itself, as it was quickly interrupted by a message from the year 2023 that warned the viewer "It's too late for our timeline, but it may not be for yours." Since then, there have been clues everywhere from podcasts by the developers, to an Obama Shaving Simulator, to real life events such as Indiecade and ARG-specific events around Berkley and LA.||Puzzle solving by online communities.||Small portion of the gaming community|
|The Black Watchmen||2015||Alice & Smith||In the first ever Permanent Alternate Reality Game, you join the ranks of The Black Watchmen, a paramilitary group dedicated to protecting the public from dangerous phenomena beyond human understanding: ritualistic murder, occult secret societies, and the paranormal, to name but a few.||Puzzle solving mainly by individuals, but acts in a similar fashion to community puzzle solving ARGs.||Small portion of the gaming community|
|Afterbirth||2015||Edmund McMillen||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.||Puzzle solving by online communities.||Small portion of the gaming community|
|Archimedes||2016||Joshua Hughes||An ARG horror game on Steam that starts on a defunct operating system, where a strange man asks for your help as a virus begins to take over.||Puzzle solving using online elements such as email and location-based services.||Small portion of the gaming community|
|LEVELS ARG School||2016||Unknown||LEVELS ARG School offers a unique opportunity - the project revolves around education for players who are new to Alternate Reality Games, teaching them the secrets of ARG investigation and ARG puzzle-solving, as well as providing a vast number of puzzles for people of all skill levels. LEVELS also has a Discussion Forum, a place where players can create their own puzzles, provide hints, ask for help, or simply participate in discussions.||ARG education for inexperienced players, puzzle solving, puzzle creation, ARG investigation, and general entertainment.||Small portion of the gaming community|
|Sombra||2016||Blizzard||The Sombra ARG is an ARG involving Overwatch, a game made by Blizzard. Sombra is the name of a then-unreleased Overwatch hero that was hinted at by Blizzard as being an upcoming playable character. Clues and ciphers referencing Sombra were found in various developer updates and short animations released by Blizzard, and this ARG consists of those clues.||Puzzle solving by online communities.||Large portion of the gaming community|
|Hello Neighbor||2017||tinyBuild, DynamicPixels||Hello Neighbor is a Stealth Horror Game about sneaking into your neighbor's house. It might seem like a normal game, but the creators said on their Twitter that the game is really a ARG and released some suspicious dog tags. Every comes with a code. Not much is known yet, as the game is still in alpha.||Puzzle solving, horror, adventure and general entertaiment.||Medium portion of the gaming community|
|Waking Titan||2017||Hello Games||On June 1, moderators from various No Man's Sky subreddits began to receive packages. In these packages were merch (including a poster) and a cassette. On the cassettes that have been received and analyzed, spectrogram revealed that each cassette had the string "706s7274616p" that, when ran through ROT13 and converting the resulting hex string, translated to "portal." After a user on the Discord server pointed out the Waking Titan ARG and its similarities to this one, we solved the next clue of that ARG. The solution was in No Man's Sky itself. After this, many began to believe that No Man's Sky's ARG and Waking Titan were the same.
After the Puerto Rico radio broadcast, one of the players emailed one of the emails on the Multiverse site, which led to triggering a package to be sent. This package was received by CobraTV. In it was the same merch that the moderators have received, and a cassette labeled 9/16. There was only one thing different about the cassette, and that was the case. It had the Atlas symbol from the Waking Titan ARG. This is (public) concrete proof the two ARGs are the same. As of yet, the cassettes have not served any greater purpose than what has been described. We have solved the six sigils on the Waking Titan website and the five unlocked glyphs. On July 9, a Twitch stream appeared on the Waking Titan website. It turned out to be a broadcast being made by Atlas Foundation CEO Elizabeth Leighton. In the video, she speaks about the work Atlas is doing. In it, she invites everyone to join the Citizen Science Division at http://csd.atlas-65.com. 10,000 level 4 Atlas passes will be sent to a randomly selected pool of people. What these passes point us to, we don't know. At around 2100EST July 21, a new website/subdomain went up. On it is a 32x32 grid of squares, which equals 1,024 total squares. There is an input field reading "ENTER YOUR CODE." On the Waking Titan website, there is a CLI-like input field. What this leads to, nobody knows yet. Many people who signed up for CSD, if not all people who did so, have received emails with a unique code and instructions on how to solve said code.
|Derelict Radio||2017||The Closet Gamer||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.|
|Q Anon||2017||Unknown||Fictional individual claiming to have insider knowledge of the Trump administration.||50,000+ followers|
|Terminal 00||?||Angus Nicneven||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 .|
|TheSunVanished||2018 (Ongoing)||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.|
|Max2019||2018||Raddical and Zoopyhigh on Tumblr||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.|
|DEMA||2018 (Ongoing)||Twenty One Pilots||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|
|HUMINT||In Development, Last Updated Aug 2018||Cold Code Labs||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.||Puzzle solving by individuals and teams. The game also introduces the challenges of tradecraft such as evasion, detection, etc.||project followed by small portion of the gaming community||-|
Media with ARG themes or elements
- The Game
- The Dark Knight
- The Cloverfield Paradox
- Super 8
- 10 Cloverfield Lane
- The Blair Witch Project
- The Institute
- The Last Broadcast
- Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
- Penny Dreadful by Will Christopher Baer
- Halting State by Charles Stross
- Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
- Cathy's Book and Cathy's Key by Sean Stewart, Jordan Weisman, and Cathy Brigg (illustrator)
- John Dies at the End (novel) by David Wong
- Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- This Is Not a Game by Walter Jon Williams
- The Autobiography of Sherlock Holmes by Sherlock Holmes
- Journal 29 by Dimitris Chassapakis
- 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."
- McGonigal, J. (2008) "Why I Love Bees: A Case Study in Collective Intelligence Gaming."
- "Phrenic". Phrenic World. Retrieved 12 Aug 2017.
- "List of Investigations - Game Detectives Wiki". wiki.gamedetectives.net. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
- "Frog Fractions 2 - Game Detectives Wiki". wiki.gamedetectives.net. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
- "Afterbirth ARG - Game Detectives Wiki". wiki.gamedetectives.net. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
- "Sombra ARG - Game Detectives Wiki". wiki.gamedetectives.net. Retrieved 2016-10-25.