Alice is Lost

An Alternate Reality Game
by Eric Harshbarger

What's This?

Hi there – you're in the right place, but what used to be here is no longer available because Alice is Lost has ended. But don't worry, if you're a fan of alternate reality games, we have some other similar websites that you can check out right here on this page!

Alternative Websites To Check Out

ARGNet: Alternate Reality Gaming Network

ARGNet prides itself on being “the largest and most complete news resources” for alternate reality gaming enthusiasts. Keep up-to-date with community news, investigative reports, interviews, netcasts, and more. You can also get in touch with them through Twitter.

Alternate Reality Games on Reddit

Alternate Reality Games on Reddit is a good way to connect with other players and enthusiasts, and to see what's trending via the user-submitted stories and links that appear on the subreddit.

Unfiction.com

Unfiction.com is a “comprehensive resource for those interested in Alternate Reality Gaming”, and provides information and references to those just starting out and getting their feet wet. Become familiar with the history and find tools and resources for becoming more involved in ARGs, be it as a player or a puppetmaster.

You Found Me – Jane McGonigal

Jane McGonigal, PhD, is a New York Times Bestselling Author and creator of several award-winning alternate reality games. Visit her official website and gain a deeper insight on her game design philosphies, what's involved in her ARGs, and her other projects. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Endgame: Ancient Truth

Endgame: Ancient Truth is an alternate reality game and the prequel to the Endgame series by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton. Take part, play the game, and become a part of what might influence future novels and movies! You can also find Endgame: Ancient Truth on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

News

Pokémon Go into the Wild with Niantic’s Latest Game

Michael Andersen writes about how Niantic Labs – creators of the popular augmented-reality game Ingress – plan to bring the world of Pokémon into the real world, adding unique social and location-based aspects to the game, requiring players to go to specific locations to discover new Pokémon and to progress.

Adrian Hon, Perplex City

Unfiction.com interviews Adrian Hon, the Executive Producer and Director of Play, Mind Candy Design for the steadily-growing-more-popular alternate reality game, Perplex City.

A Beginner's Guide to Alternate Reality Games

Mental Floss' Rob Lammie writes a quick guide to getting started with alternate reality gaming, and provides a quick list of some of the most popular ARGs to check out.

Alternate Reality Games Could Still Take Over the World (And Your Life)

Atlas Obscura's Jess Zimmerman's feature-length article explores the growing phenomenon and delves into what the future may hold for alternate reality games and gamers.

An alternative way to play with real-world problems

The Guardian's Anne Wollenberg writes about how Alternate Reality Games can go beyond just being entertainment toward actually being a useful tool and solution to address real-world issues.

Alternate Reality Games – An Amazing Marketing Tool

Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) as marketing tools were born in 2001 with The Beast, which was used to advertise the Stephen Spielberg movie A.I. The obvious drawback with this is that these games often depend on a smart design that would keep the audience hooked without losing its intended purpose, which is the marketing of the cause or product. The latter is where most fail, as in an effort to adapt the narrative, most ARGs get derailed and lose their way.

However, when done right, these games can be tremendously effective marketing tools, often reaching tens of thousands of players, which in turn spreads the intended message to millions of others around the world. Such is the case with Halo 2’s I Love Bees ARG, in which its intelligent design and execution helped sparked interest for the upcoming game, which was still in development at the time.

ARGs can be one of the most fascinating slices of the gaming pie. It's fascinating to look at how some of these games are executed – some are downright amazing when it comes to their attention to detail, along with the surprisingly significant consequences of player action on the game world and the results these bring.

Take for example the I Love Bees alternate reality game: The name by itself sounds innocent enough; according to story records, I Love Bees was seemingly just a blog hosted by a bee enthusiast named Dana.

It was, anyway, until a rogue artificial intelligence named “Melissa” infiltrated and attacked her website, leaving cryptic and disturbing messages all over the blog’s front page. Out of sheer frustration and after several failed attempts to get rid of the pesky A.I., Dana abandoned her blog and left several hints for all to see. These hints told her story and how she couldn’t get rid of her website's infiltrator, which acted as a starting point for all the players.

Players would hear about the blog by watching the teaser trailer for the game Halo 2, which was being developed at the time. After reading through Dana’s records, the players were charged with helping the A.I regain her lost memories in an attempt to understand her plight, and ultimately help her leave the planet.

The amazing part about this game’s tasks – or “axons”, as they were called by Melissa – is that they involved several convoluted methods, from GPS coordinates leading to payphones that would ring at designated times, in which the players had to interact with using several keywords. It would even involve doing preposterous tasks, such as players having to make a human pyramid at an exact location, as well as interacting with certain Applebee’s and Starbucks employees using codewords to obtain more clues.

Each task unlocked certain parts of Melissa’s memories, which revealed that she was the stranded A.I of a spaceship, and that she landed on earth using the first website she could find – which happened to be I Love Bees – in an attempt to get help from the locals. As more of her memories came back, she slowly regained her original personality, which was that of a tyrant and a dominatrix.

When all the tasks were finished, Melissa regained full consciousness and abandoned Earth, but not before issuing death threats to the entire human race and sharing the planet’s location with a genocidal alien race called The Covenant. Now, all you die-hard gamers out there might recognize this as the initial storyline of Halo 2, right? That’s because this ARG was designed as a viral marketing campaign for the game which, as mentioned above, was being developed at the time. As a matter of fact, I Love Bees’ website currently has a countdown to the exact date when Halo 2 takes place, where the extinction will go down. Awesome!

The campaign was hugely successful; over 250,000 people visited the site when it launched in 2004, and more than 500,000 swung by each time the page had a new update. During the course of three months, the website had received more than 3 million hits, and thousands of people were participating in the game’s many puzzles and tasks. I Love Bees won several awards for its innovation, and it jump-started the trend of using of ARGs to promote video games.

About the author: Juan López is a freelance writer living in Venezuela, and offers all sorts of writing services to any interested parties. You may contact him through his personal email wirch007@gmail.com, or on Facebook @wirch007.