A story is developed across multiple media platforms in order to deliver unique pieces of content in each channel. Importantly, these pieces of content are not only linked together, but are in narrative synchronization with each other.
There are many forms and many ways of transmedia storytelling, utilizing different combination of media to promote or to simply intensify audience's engagement in order to entertain and tell stories. Many modern stories depend strongly on the platform of Internet, interactivity and human desire to explore and find out more.
Alternate Reality Games or shortly ARGs are designed as an interactive stories where the audience is a crucial character, who has a power to direct the plot. ARGs often start with a so called rabbit hole, an initial puzzle or a small unusual hint on the Internet or other media, which wakes curiosity and pulls players into further research on the given clue. From that point on the game starts to give additional puzzles, takes into account the actions of the players and its story is shaped by decisions that the players make. In order for this to work, a game master has to monitor progress of the game, and that can be done by following various forums, which players use for communication (Reddit, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and even Google+).
It can be a website, a contact or a puzzle, that draws players in the game.
An individual involved in designing and/or running an ARG.
Clues are scattered across the Internet and other media, meant for players to reassemble and determine their meaning.
Designed for a collective of players who share information and solutions.
The "this is not a game" (TINAG) aesthetic - games do not necessary acknowledge that they are games.
Adapting the narrative through the game, leaving a "blank space" for players to fill in.
The basic story would be told in an anchoring medium, such as a novel, TV show, or film.
There are four primary characters to expand and explore: Hansel, Gretel, a stepmother and a witch.
Deeper themes of poverty, collaboration, family and persistence are underlying the main story line.
Family business is woodcutting and they have a website from where it is obvious the business is not going well. However, the woodcutter’s second wife is the manager of the site and special deals and offers she is posting there give us a glimpse of her speculative and fraudulent nature. We would also be able to find a map of the woodcutters business in the middle of a big forest.
Gretel spends a lot of her time on Facebook which details family history and complicated family dynamics. She also writes about her problems with insomnia which result in many sleepless nights. Her big interests are moon cycles, candy and jewelry. She never goes anywhere with her friends and she never brags with new things - she is trying to hide the lack of money best as she can.
Hansel has a personal website and his big interests are user interfaces. His last entry was research made on graphical control elements used as a navigational aid, called breadcrumbs or breadcrumbs trail.
He is also active on Pinterest, where he is collecting shiny stones, best gadgets and tips on how to orientate in the woods. He is holding a contest for best survival technics for living alone in the wilderness.
Stepmother is a frequent user of Twitter. She is a ferocious feminist and dislikes children. She promotes resilient, sustainable communities and exchanges tips with her Twitter followers on different ways to reduce consumption. She tweets breaking news during woodcutting season such as:
@Stepmother cutting off more this year #lazykids #no-spineFather #womanTakeControl
Witch keeps a cooking blog and shares cooking demo videos on YouTube. Her recipes, such as Candy Rooftops, Rolled walnut trap and Stewed boy Surprise are made using local, often obscure ingredients. She hides clues for secret ingredients in her dishes in lyrics of songs and the YouTube trailers and encourages viewers to send their stories about home cooking and food for children to be shared on a website. Lots of her fans are commenting that her cooking is just magical and that they would like to take lessons from her. But in her bio we can read about the path that led the witch to her current antisocial tendencies, why she lives alone and does not offer any cooking classes to anyone older than 13. Other channels which she is subscribed to are I Build It Home, This Cob House and The House of Candy.
The hypothetical transmedia version of the Hansel and Gretel is the creation of a holistic narrative that unfolds in unique manners across different media. It allows for a dialogue between creator and participant. Developers could decide if participant interaction, such as solving the reducing consumption problem, orientating in the woods through clues and maps, inventing new dishes for the witch to cook or creating another character for the story, could move the story in different directions than the original version.
ARGNet is home of games reviews and a network of independent sites contributing to Alternate Reality Gaming. More than just a simple webring, ARGN will point you to quality, complementary places to go if you’re looking for information related to this growing genre.
Unifiction is a directory of most of the ARGs since the very beginning. Sadly it looks like it is not very active anymore. However, through the forums you can follow famous games being played out and the site is also keeping some nice interviews with more active members of the community (PM and players) made in the glory days.