Game Development Reference
their magnum opus. The more alive your characters are, the more they'll sur-
prise and delight you. This is part of what makes writing such an intoxicating
profession. Don't forget this element of magic when you make your story in-
teractive and allow real people to put their hand to the plot. It's amazing when
you've set them. Accept the input of players the same way—as gifts to your
communal experience of creation. This can be way more fun than writing a
novel if you accept what this alternate reality gives you.
In the end, one of the most helpful principles I've found while writing for ARGs is
when I start working in an alternate reality. The idea is that all the actors on stage
improvising together accept what their partners present and elaborate or improve on
it. They don't shut them down or mock their efforts. You're on stage with someone
who just claimed he's an elephant? Well, you have two options.
1. You can say, “No you're not. You're a journalist.” This will kill your
performance, I promise. It saps your partner's confidence and breaks the col-
laboration between you. Suddenly one person is in charge, and the other is at
their mercy. This isn't fun to watch or participate in. Saying no is deadly.
2. You can say, “Yes, and I'm a panda bear.” This reinforces your partner's
confidence and demonstrates your willingness to contribute and collaborate.
It may take you unexpected places, and be way different from what you had
planned, but it's guaranteed to be more fun than the alternative.
Alternate reality games are a hot topic. Some people are always saying they're
just a passing fad. Other people think they're great but that nobody is doing them
“right.” Emotions often run high, and we can't even seem to agree on what an ARG
is and what it isn't.
In my opinion, alternate reality games are the emerging native form of entertain-
ment for the Internet. Sure, video games can be played on websites, novels can be
posted one chapter at a time, movies can be downloaded. But ARGs are something
more—greater than the sum of their parts—using all the elements of the Internet age
to create a completely new entertainment experience. I have loved watching them
develop and being a part of that development—both as a creator and a player.