Dav talks about playing Alternate Reality Games
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Interviewer: I’m here at the ARG Fest and with me today is a special guest. How about you introduce yourself?
Hi, I’m Dav Flamerock, an ARG player from San Francisco.
Interviewer: How did you get into ARGs?
Dav: Well, it starts because a friend of mine introduced me to Halo, and then that led me to discover I Love Bees which was a really well known Halo 2 promo ARG. And then that interested me, so I did some research on it and that led me to unfiction.com where I found a whole hub of ARGs. I sort of looked at them and picked the one I liked the most, and it stuck with me.
Interviewer: Which ARG is that?
Dav: That was Eldritch Errors which is run by GMD Studios and created by Brian Clark.
Interviewer: Why do you play the ARGs? Why the ARG versus an MMO or some other game that’s online?
Dav: Well, for me it’s pretty much always about the story. It’s usually what I want. I read or watch movies or play games because it’s the story that engages me, and for ARGs it’s a unique opportunity as opposed to, say, D&D or forum role playing where you’re interacting in both a virtual setting and often a real setting with characters. And you are taking part in the story.
This is especially true with Eldritch Errors. What you do actually influences the story drastically. GMD Studios or Brian Clark has described the players of Eldritch Errors3 repeatedly as the protagonists of the story. The puzzles are fun, but really it’s the story that gets me in.
Interviewer: Can you talk about an example of how players do influence the story of that ARG?
Dav: Well, the first one that comes to mind would be in Eldritch Errors Book 2. There was an event that the story led up to which was a camping trip in West Virginia where five players basically went camping with four characters.
And there was a whole multitude of possible outcomes that GMD had come up with, things like, if the players split up. Some of them go to the cabin in the woods, and some of them stay in town, or if all of them stay in town or all of them go into the woods. Then, they would have to have different groups of people interacting with different sets of characters, so that everyone would be able to participate and the story would evolve.
I believe there was one point where… Oh, in the same example the players who were on the Internet and couldn’t go, were interacting with a certain set of characters, and they told those characters that their friends had gone into the mountains with these other characters because they told a security consultant agency about the characters that were in the mountains with their friends who were targets of this security consultancy. When that happened the players in the mountain on their way back, one of the characters actually got kidnapped before their eyes which might not have happened if the players on the Internet hadn’t informed the security consultant what happened.
Interviewer: Do you just play one ARG at a time, or do you play multiple ARGs, or how is that?
Dav: Preferably, I play one ARG at a time, but that’s because I try to find ARGs that are large enough that I can get totally immersed in an totally obsessed with which is how I did with Eldritch Errors and The Lost Ring which are the two big ones I’ve played.
During Eldritch Errors Book 2, I believe, there was another one that was running at about the same time which was the Sarah Connor Chronicles ARG. I didn’t actively play in that as much as I wish I had, but I kept being pointed to it because it was happening in my area. It was cool, but because it was smaller I could follow it and play it at the same time.
Interviewer: Can you talk about-you said the story is very important. What about the social aspect? Are you making more friends because of this? Did you keep in touch with these people after the ARG, or how does that work?
Dav: Oh absolutely. I’m at ARG Fest now mostly because I’m friends with all these people, and I want to get a chance to meet them in person. When I played The Lost Ring, I mentioned that was designed to be the biggest, most interactive international ARG to be unprecedented, really.
There were sets of players all over the world, and one of them was from Argentina. He was my age, and we started talking and we became friends. It turned out he wanted to come up to the U. S. at some point because he couldn’t find anyone to stay with him in Boston or New York City which were his first two choices. He decided to come stay with me for two weeks in San Francisco. So, I’ve made a bunch of friends and I’ve kept them.
Interviewer: So, now what’s in store then in the future for your ARG playing? Are you going to get into designing ARGs because I know some players actually go into making ARGs. Are you looking for another ARG right now?
Dav: Well, I was sort of looking around right now. I don’t think there are any big ones that I can join in. For me, it seems to be more in between chapters of Eldritch Errors. What am I going to do, and often I’m not playing ARGs because I’m doing something else or whatever.
I wouldn’t say that I am going to be an ARG designer in the future. I think that would be really cool, but it’s not exactly what I have in mind. I like it would be a cool thing to do, but I don’t think I am going to end up doing it.
Interviewer: Great. Thank you very much.