Alternate Reality Games in Gamasutra
It's very refreshing to see that Gamasutra is now giving more room to alternate reality game in this review by Adrian Hon (the article is dated from May 9, 2005). The author beings by stating that the first ARG was the marketing material for the movie A.I. (2001), with a credit for a "Sentient Machine Therapist" called "Jeanine Salla". People who googled this name found that she worked at a university. Bangalore World University in 2142... and all of this lead into a curious puzzle. The article also presents example such as "I love Bees" and "The Beast".
Alternate reality games shouldn't be seen as a panacea for developers. Like any other story or game, it's easy to create a bad ARG but difficult to create a great one. By treating ARGs simply as promotional bolt-ons to a game, to be developed by an entirely separate team, is a surefire route to disappointment. Though it may seem risky to invest such trust in something that seemingly has little to do with your main product other than perhaps being a special kind of advert, ARGs have the potential to become a fundamental part of a game's experience, growing the story and universe, and attracting and engaging players long before - and after - the game's release. This potential will only be realized if game developers take the leap of integrating ARGs fully into the development process and the game itself, and most importantly, use their imagination.
Why do I blog this? I like the fact that ARG is an interesting way to design games by using existing and simple situations (technosocial or not) to create a compelling game exeprience. However, I am not sure (video)game companies understood the potential of this (some says it's too 'far' from their core business).