Available Portals to the Alternate Realities
The assertion that the Internet does not forget anything is a popular myth among beginners. The advanced netizens know the volatility of digital information .
物 の 哀 れ (Mono no aware), as they said in ancient Japan: accept and enjoy the beauty of impremanence of all things.
Especially in the fragile world of alternative realities this phenomenon is well known. ARGs are unique, they can not be experienced again, other than a book, a film, a computer game. The only vestiges are the documentations and artifacts (original pages, blogs, forums). And if they disappear as well, the experience remains only in the memory of those who participated in it — recipients and authors. They become dissolve in the cultural Oblivion.
An ARG forum is always the headquarters. A portal to the other dimension. Everything is going to happen here. This is the meeting point of people from different nations, with various education, in diverse age groups. They are united by a goal — to solve current mysteries. And when the portal is no longer available, the panic breaks out. Or people are looking for other portals. Driven by tireless researchers’ spirit.
In the following, I will briefly outline the accessible portals. Please mind my very biased characterization.
UnFiction Forums, http://forums.unfiction.com/forums/
Plain and simple: Experts.
A wonderful service of UnFiction.com. The Forum existed since 2001. Initially founded to follow “The Beast”, an ARG for the Spielberg movie “AI” it became quickly the headquarters for ARGs, grassroots and transmedial projects of all kinds. Hundreds of ARGs were launched and examined here annually. There was an internal code of honor. For example, the authors of an ARG project should not participate in ongoing discussions about their own works, as well as the figures from these projects shouldn’t post to the forum — the crossing of the meta-level and the cheating was not wellcomed. But a friendly and constructive way constituted here formed communities and friendships for life — wordwide, global, cosmopolitan.
It has become an essential ARG archive, since this genre turned to a reference-capable medium. At the latest from Producers Guild manifested new job “Transmedia Producer”. Unfortunately for technical reasons the forum is now not available. I hope Unfiction Forums can be restored, at least as an Archive for data, plots and documentation of a multiple universe of the Alternate Reality Games from last 16 years.
reddit, here: ARG-Forum, https://www.reddit.com/r/ARG/
reddit is a colorful collection of themes and contents for every taste, philosophy and interest. But this diversity is the weakness of reddit when it’s about ARGs, concentrated solution of puzzles, communication with characters, brainstorming. Unclear board structure on the one hand, and on the other hand the fact that ARG board is only one of thousands, makes the communication here a nerve-racking undertaking. The opinions can be downvoted, sometimes regardless of the relevance, so they disappear deep in archives. Unlike the ARG competent UnFiction, there is chaos and turmoil in reddit. What a pity! reddit would be an excellent meeting place for the smart minds and unconventional solutions, if they would focus on topics and respect unpopular opinions. Often such opinions lead to the correct solution.
At least during the ARG to JJ Abrams’ film “10 Cloverfield Lane”, the video gamers chat system Discord became known in the ARG circles. And socially acceptable. Not really. This system (only accessible with an invitation) is already a false tool for joint participation because of its seclusion. In addition, the controversy surrounding the AltRight scene among Discord users (also in the context of the latest Neo-Nazi riots in Charlottesville) makes the whole system notorious and cheesy. But even without Nazi context, the ARG experience here is suboptimal because Discord users consider themselves an alleged elite and withhold their achievements from the community.
Designed after famous Japanese subculture forum world, 4chan is a meeting point for conversations, rumors and gaffes of all kinds. If an ARG conversation starts here, so the meta and fiction levels become scrambled and jumbled. It’s a mess. A cheerful confusion. But it can turn everything into abyssal darkness. Like in the case of infamous Junko Junsui ARG, as 4chan users, following viral history, had tried hacking the official pages of North Korea. And then they’d got visits and calls from CIA directly (in its antiseptic seriousness). Intelligence wanted to prevent unnecessary international conflicts. 4chan is like a Yellow Press newspaper under ARG forums: hasty, hysterical, superficial. And sometimes it’s a craddle of cybermobbing. This is, where 4chan uses its whole power of (a)social networking. Because of anonymity.
Behind these URLs bloomed the German ARG community. Very actively and versatile. Unfortunately the forum is not accessible for years, including its archives. It was the best starting point for all German speaking ARG players. Hopefully it will soon come again to life. Or at least as an searchable archive (like Unfiction)
After UnFiction went offline, restlessness has broken out among ARG community. Many stories couldn’t be pursued, discussed, clarified anymore. An UnFiction insider has opened another forum — at least temporarily, until Unfiction goes again. Or available forever. Many ARG experts from UnFiction now move to ARG.world.
See you over there. On the other side of the curtain.
(This is translation from my German Blog)