ARGs and transmedia stories, initially the domain of gamers, are becoming main-stream in the entertainment, marketing and e-learning worlds. They are changing the way audiences engage with content: stories, instead of being sold to audiences, are being co-created and absorbed.
Alternate reality games (ARGs) are a series of real time events that require focussed participation in a story that unfolds in response to participants’ actions. Inherent within ARGs, transmedia stories are narratives that unfold across multiple media platforms. Today’s digital technologies make it easy to create, share and link the pieces of a narrative in a way that engages participants, encourages collaboration and builds personal investment.
Because of this, it is now common for TV series, movies and even books to develop a deeper, richer experience through a transmedia narrative. Blogs, Twitter feeds, external websites and public events form a story and community around the production. This entertainment/game/collaboration hybrid dovetails perfectly with the “hunter/gatherer” style of seeking out information and forming virtual communities inherent in the online world.
Audi is a perfect example of this. Their highly successful launch of their A3 hatchback was not a typical car show presentation. Instead, they announced the car had been stolen and asked for the public’s help. An elaborate 90-day nation-wide game followed, with clues to the location of the car planted in public places for people to report to their website. The elaborate story developed through websites, print ads, billboards, commercials, radio spots, live events, e-mails, videos, chats, puzzles, photos and more. Participants were able to influence events by participating in “retrieval missions”, streamed in real time. This ARG was a triumph on all fronts, winning awards, boosting sales and increasing Audi’s profile.
This is the level of engagement and interaction consumers have come to look for. Your story, whether it is about the need for safety in the workplace, developing technical expertise or improving soft skills, can benefit from a co-ordinated transmedia approach. An ARG requires engaging content, co-ordinated story arcs, and a well-planned strategy. This is one of our specialties – so don’t hesitate to ask us any questions. We will be also interested to hear what you think about games in business.