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Alternate Reality Game Tropes

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Alternate Reality Games began (approximately) with the game concocted to promote the movie A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, affectionately known as The Beast. Alternate Reality Games make use of a variety of different media, and therefore combine tropes from different media, while inventing some of their own.

Alternate Reality Game Tropes include:

Notable stand-alone ARGs include:


The following series have alternate reality games tied in to them:

  • Heroes: The Heroes 360 experience, where the participants take cues from the character Wireless to solve the mystery of Primatech paper.
  • Skins: A British Series with tie-in blogs and videos, complete with puzzles to find out about some characters.
  • The Lost Experience is a vast and complicated ARG for Lost, which often makes a lot more sense than the programme itself.
    • Another ARG was launched before season 4 called "Find 815." Another one launched at Comic-Con 2008 called the "Dharma Initiative Recruiting Project". Both of these were closer to simple online stories with minigames included than true ARGs, and the latter was so plagued with delays and had so little apparent purpose that it was aborted before the end.
  • I Love Bees established a backstory for the game Halo 2 (involving a time-traveling AI from the game's era trapped in a present-day homemade website about beekeeping), made by the same people who ran The Beast. Players helped repair the fragmented AI and get it home, while unlocking audio clips that told a backstory about the day of the Covenant invasion.
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  • HUNT the TRUTH was a later campaign for Halo 5: Guardians, centering on a journalist (played by Key of Key & Peele) searching for the truth about the Master Chief's origins.
  • Halo 3 also had one ("Iris"), but due to changes in advertising laws, it had Bungie and Xbox 360 logos slapped all over it right from the start, much of it took place on and, and it ended abruptly with a "buy the game for the rest!" cliffhanger.
  • The 2007 Transformers movie has the Sector 7 Alternate Reality Game. It reveals to anyone who'll listen has as its main plot that the franchise is a cover-up for real alien robots. Japanese toy company Takara was the first to be brought in.
  • John Dies at the End
  • One might say the earliest ARGs were the secret decoder rings delivered to fans of certain radio shows (as immortalized in A Christmas Story)... after all, at their root, it's a puzzle to be solved that leads inevitably to Product Placement.
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  • Portal also has one.
  • Project Legacy is an Assassin's Creed ARG.
  • 42 Entertainment, founded by the team responsible for The Beast, is responsible for many tie-in ARGs; in addition to the aforementioned I Love Bees, they have also made:
    • Year Zero, based on the Nine Inch Nails Concept Album of the same name, explores the album's premise of the war on terror turning the United States into a totalitarian Christian theocracy which enforces its power through fear of terrorism, kidnapping dissidents and drugging the water supply to keep the public obedient.
    • Why So Serious, which promoted The Dark Knight, acts as a bridge between it and Batman Begins, telling the story of Harvey Dent's campaign for Gotham District Attorney and the Joker's rise to power in the city's criminal underworld.
  • Torchwood has an ARG set during the second season revolving around an alien DNA invasion, with several original websites created just for the game.