At first I thought I was going to write about the Boston terrorism incident that was linked with a marketing campaign for Cartoon Network’s “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” But I found that was not an ARG. People were not asked to do anything. The images in question that apparently looked IEDs were just LED displays to market a movie version of the show.
But what I want to write about now is an ARG that I found for a USA Network TV show, called “Cover Affairs.” According to argn.com, the network ran a “tweetcast,” called “Mission: Budapest,” in which players were recruited as CIA operatives who were tasked with assisting other operatives on the ground in Budapest. It even includes a character from the show, Auggie, as your handler. Players can follow one to four CIA agents as they uncover documents, photos, files and videos to solve missions. This game ran over the series’ summer run from June 1 – July 12, 2011.
I was not able to find information on how successful the campaign was or a correlation between the game’s players and those who then watched the show. However, the fact that this game exists on Twitter is a great selling point. In our class discussion, someone made the point that they don’t want to have to check another site if they play an alternate reality game; we are already too inundated with stuff on the Internet. I think this is a great point, which is why I believe most alternate reality games should be on sites like facebook and twitter that poeple already use a lot. They could even use these social platforms to market their game(s). And if someone could play the game within the context of facebook, I think they would be a lot more likely to play it. I know that whenever I am directed to another site for anything, I am far less likely to go there. This brings up another whole issue entirely, though.
At any rate, my review for the game cannot be as complete as it would be if had played it, obviously. But there seems to be a good degree of interaction with players. There is an actual person on the other end responding to players’ tweets, which makes it more real than pre-pregrammed responces. They call this game an ARG; but I would use that term loosely with this game. There does not seem to be any call to real-world action. I could be wrong. The game overview I found does not quite eplain it enough. In theory, it could send you on real-world “spy” missions, asking you to take photos of certain things and upload them to the game’s site. It could prompt you to act out interrogation videos and send them in. The only problem with some of the stuff is that you might run into legal trouble if you are spotted doing anything that could potentially disturb the peace. If the game truly is only a twitter feed and does not call the players to do something in real life, then perhaps this should just be called a marketing game; because it would not have anything to do with reality.