Falling for the first time again and listening to the whistling of the wind as the winding path narrows and opens and seemingly stops.  "Did I drop something?" you ask... Wait, did you actually ask that question or was it the one pulling the strings?  Did they tickle some threads behind the curtain and make you think the thought was yours, or is that a genuine notion happening spontaneously?  You never really know, which is the fun after all.

Have you ever watched a David Lynch movie and wondered if you had seen what was meant to be seen?  There's layers and symbolism and strangely disturbing moments that may sometimes strain your brain to suss out the significance.  Metaphysics Morality MMORPG Mother Russia Mate Niche, are all interesting articles from InfoBarrel writers, but did I post these links to inform, advertise, confound...enlighten?  Did you notice that all the words begin with "M" except for the "Niche?"  When you sniff out a trail and trip down the rabbit hole, you discover very quickly that several possibilities are presented, but not all are directly important.  There are several tantalizing paths that sparkle like gems, yet reveal dead ends which may truly be what they seem or just part of the scheme.  Do I keep slipping and dipping into a rhythmic stream where the timing of rhyming grows a head of steam and beams like the light of day leading the way to the heart of the subject that I've been trying to say?

A.I. Haley Joel Osment
Credit: http://i.crackedcdn.com/phpimages/article/5/8/7/71587_v1.jpg

Are You Playing Games?

i'm so sorry.  generAlly when someone Reads an articlE, theY are not looking to be cOnfUsed, But rather to lEarn somethinG interestIng, informative, intriguiNg, or eveN inspirING.  alliteraTion aside i'm simply asking yOu not to feel angered, annoyed, or antagonized by my antics.  it's sUch a difficult duty to defy the delightful diversioN that Discussion can display when you play.  but, i'm attEmpting to stay on the subject we are investigating today.

many have likely given up by now and have tuRned away from this page, but you are Still reading, which means you may be seeing The deeper logic to the toying ploys thAt have been used thus far.  caN you see something below the surface, thinly masked by a mischeivious veneer?  that is usually the key to finDing what is really going on.

Lewis Carroll Self Portrait 1856
Credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ad/Lewis_Carroll_Self_Portrait_1856_circa.jpg

Lewis Carroll [1]

I Already Gave You the Answer

But, if you didn't catch it, I'll just plainly say that the answer is in the photo.  He's sitting there calmly reading a book.  Just use him to decipher this passage.[2]

(By the way, don't worry about the "1" at the beginning of the text.  That's just a requirement of the format that was used to enter the coded text into the article so just ignore it.)

  1. Lw uwm yeiv qwpgin mfquxy hz qtkqzw quk ych ez yom lje Mzupypva karhvi, cc "Lwtditgt Tzdspc" xdil Nenzg Nlcvktd gnafmpo fwevy, vhve mzf xeu iduo sv ohlci ppsv tyzg alcxekmnai twaspv ea ewcy fzopc xdif je. Trfczwp sik c wfirdxtxd ezq lfmso wzkek hwzqcsd lyh yzqrtfxflasc. E omgsj kvtd tw hqcglp kvp cpeowf vhrk gz xlru uwobvig zq ela IJI cfdafytxu kgpszusc stq pw tg a jkfzyr mjndweets qzc Ehbwtnrks Cplpebq Iadzbr. Xlru xmrpvkaldeina hcy kiwmfei pw Ucrifzw ptxdmj fiivqewj sn qffiivqewj xdzgwgy kvp fdecm gh sltv ntalazk cs nvzw ld uqwlgs wicx esi iif cnu ywd hcmpqfis, dfge yzxwjda "Aczqp'd Lhrmfvuivg ty Hsjlwtlrer." Tq jsq ahgnu r zteepa baoe zejpdemcilknx kvp dfffmuv ow RFRd tx xmuqmvj fplomhg srprisye elwb lje kvfxtyshwya slifzfyhevy vhvjs rlxio kdqsvcm cpqinmfee kywd desng, kq Aczqp eprza lq bv r ucplx fceriex cqq asevl vo zewetlxa bzqsv kvle lva vwy tf kvp asijwegnfe. Wq jzy'rm uqmv kvtd qen, ggw mrp pp esi pghg ow gscdzr ppsv wflzo qtrz mflopdsye lrz mpeikvapye jnwe rlrpwyr lr WZY uo Z ncfwo ezdaue pfi ez siwl gxei kc esp Yjnaetzfb Fyqsnce. Kf pfi ufdx pghg "uewwnetsj" wj "wnwfffx" zv xwlj iekc l rzsctw ueriqs, jzy'ht tg dzisneph pw lje izuse apwkw cs kys dtei ea lje wzfde es yweg ug wcc lyc kn ljojv gplcgd zwuuckg. Yzh, pab'k iek sonv es ppw crkzqwp hlazw vhv wcwvd xdil eolcry'e qmccjg tyzg alcx kcl crv gfzmlfhg kvaizbr le xdm kervvb dncepkzknx kvptc laivu.

Lorem Ipsum?[3]

Nope, the above text is not Lorem Ipsum.  Some may have thought it at first blush because such text has become familiar to many who have designed or been privy to websites that were under development.  Lorem Ipsum is usually just gibberish latin text that is used as filler in order to be a placeholder for actual items that are to be written at a later time.  

What was the point of this section then?

“I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” - Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The Beast

Now that you've had a tiny taste and we've paid tribute to the patron saint, we can dive headlong into the meat of the matter.  What is an ARG or Alternate Reality Game?  "Sean Stacey, founder of the website Unfiction, has suggested that the best way to define the genre was not to define it, and instead locate each game on three axes (ruleset, authorship and coherence) in a sphere of "chaotic fiction" that would include works such as the Uncyclopedia and street games like SFo as well."[4]

I will take this advice and not try to define this gaming genre, but rather point out a few examples of endeavors that have been held by many to have been ARGs.[5] Of course, as happens in many ARGs, when you think you're going to finally get some straight answers...

“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don't much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
Alice: ...So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.” - Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Charlie Brown Argh
Credit: http://i969.photobucket.com/albums/ae177/vrphotoz/random/charlie-brown-argh.jpg

ARG!! or Argh or Random Expletives

While ARG is a handy acronym, if you pursue one long enough, you'll discover that it is also a very good expression of frustration.  For most of us intrepid players following the breadcrumbs, it is an almost assured eventuality that a wall will be struck.  Maybe some clue was missed.  Maybe the trail went cold through the PM's (Puppet Master) inactivity.  Maybe there was a little steganography that was too advanced for the average person to crack.  There's a number of reasons for getting to that awful place of frustration, especially if you've committed hours or even months to chasing this trail.  Luckily, a main component of these games is cooperative play.

Get a Little Help from Your Friends

As often occurs with Alternate Reality Games, there are several ways to pool your abilities with other players in order to move forward to the goal.  When a solid trailhead is found, most often there is a registration process that allows players to speak to each other in a message board designed for the players to work together in following the game as it unfolds.  Besides this resource, there are also several others places where ARG players congregate in order to inform the community of possible new games emerging as well as tools to decipher difficult clues and other helpful advantages.  One of the most well-known among these sites is Unfiction.com, which has been around for several years and is considered to be an authority on all things ARG related. 

'Tis but the First Step

“I wonder if I've been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!” - Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Whatever you may have experienced while reading, I hope you have come away with, at least, slightly more than when you began.  You may have gleaned some answers from this article, and maybe you did not.  Either way, this work was meant only to give you a sense of the strange, puzzling, and amusing world of ARGs and what they can offer.  I have had the fortune to be a part of several campaigns, and can safely say these games are not for the faint of heart as it can take several weeks to even confirm if a legitimate trailhead has been found and even longer to complete an active game that has been verified.  But, I will finish here.  If you've reached the end of this article, you may be just the type of person for this game genre.  I leave it up to you to seek out one of these unique adventures.  If you have anything to add, please use the comments section below.  Thanks for reading.

This Is Not A Game: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming
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