ARGs Around the World – Part 2

Part One

** Last Updated: 3 March 2010 — added new ARG site for Japan community **

This resource shares information about alternate reality games (ARGs) — the countries their players participate from, multi-lingual and non-English ARGs. This page is a compliment to the existing ARG Stats page. This resource provides stats about:

  • English-language ARGs — player countries; [previous page]
  • English-language ARGs — multi-country design; [previous page]
  • English-language ARGs — localized by producers or players; [previous page]
  • Multilingual ARGs; [previous page]
  • Non-English-language ARGs (mono-lingual); [please note the majority if this research was undertaken a year ago, so this list is not conclusive — please feel free to ping me with details!]
  • Summary of ARG communites around the world.

Countries included in this summary: Belgium, Brazil, Canada, El Salvador, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey.

NON-ENGLISH-LANGUAGE ARGS (MONO-LINGUAL)

BELGIUM

Emma April 2007-? 2007

Emma sites

Commissioned by Belgium Public Television (VRT) to extend the Emma TV series. Many ingame sites listed here at Stew, where the player base was estimated at 75% female and under 20 years (perhaps exactly the same demographic as the Emma TV show) (Ewoud, 2007). Video of launch at Blogologie Source: Ewoud (2007) ‘Emma elle l’a’, Stew, 24 April [Online] Available at: http://www.stew.be/2007/04/24/emma-elle-la/

BRAZIL
Brazil has perhaps the largest established non-English-language ARG players due to the extensive media coverage and player-numbers of ‘Zona Incerta’. Like all ARGs however, there are usually only a few hard-core (ARG skilled) players. Brazil has many ARG playing groups in the main social networking site: Orkut. It also has an ARG wiki to summarise ARGs (and ARG-like games): www.argbrasil.net.

Cosmo Larapio (Superinteressante I) January/Janeiro 2006, created by Superinteressante (science & general interest magazine)
André Sirangelo explains that ‘the game began with a single page article published on a science & general interest magazine called Superinteressante. Incapable of finding a picture or illustration for the article, the editors decided to create a little arg-like game and published nothing but a note saying “This illustration was stolen – help us find it at super.abril.com.br/arg”.’ (Sirangelo, 2008). Due to the success of this mini-game, Superinteressante commissioned ‘Zona Incerta’.

  • Old main site: http://super.abril.com.br/arg
  • About 21,200 players participated (Sirangelo, 2008)
  • Links to Player Community sites @ ARG Brazil wiki: www.argbrasil.net

Source: Sirangelo, André (2008) ‘about Zona Incerta, email to Christy Dena, 2nd March.

Desenrola (Jan-Feb 2009)

  • Puppetmaster: Luiz Adolfo de Andrade
  • By Raccord Productions – www.raccord.com.br
  • Location: Rio de Janeiro
  • Educational ARG
  • Related to Oi Futuro Educational Center (from Oi Cellphones) www.oifuturo.org.br
  • Game provoked a discussion about teenagers´ issues like job, sex and drugs.
  • Rabbit hole: S.O.S in morse code on Celo´s profile at Orkut
  • Desenrola main site
  • Brazil ARG wiki entry
  • Orelha’s Blog
  • Orelha’s Main site
  • Player-created community at orkut
  • Player-created video atYoutube
  • Celo’s secret site
  • Orelha’s twitter account
  • Celo’s account at orkut

Source: Luiz Adolfo Andrade (2009) ‘RE: [arg_discuss] ARGs Around the World data’, email to Christy Dena, 5th April.

2084 (Instituto Purifica) 9 October 2006 – January/ Janeiro 2007, MTV Brazil
The ARG began with advertisements of Purifica Institute on MTV with URL to www.institutopurifica.com.br. Players signed up for news & received game information & missions from the ingame listserv. Multiple player-created gameplay groups were created in Orkut. The game provoked a discussion about the democratization of the media and resulted in players creating own media site: Social Memory (www.memoriasocial.net). A sequel, ‘Teoria das Cordas’, was commissioned.

2084 index

[screenshot of main page of ‘Instituo Purifica': http://purifica.uol.com.br/]

  • ARG Brazil Wiki entry: http://www.argbrasil.net/wiki/2084
  • Player-Created Gameplay Community at Orkut: Desvendamos Instituto Purifica (‘Unmasking Purifica Institute’) – 1,422 members
  • Player-Created Gameplay Community at Orkut: O Sereno (‘The Night Watchman’) – 8 members
  • Player-Created Gameplay Community at Orkut: RTZ (‘Rezistenza’ = Resistance’?) (language = Esperanto) – 155 members
  • Game provoked a discussion about the democratization of the media. (RTZ only?) players created their own media site: Social Memory: www.memoriasocial.net/
  • Social Memory Community ‘Memória Social’ – 49 members

Obsessão Compulsiva – OBSSCOMP (Compulsive Obsession) (Nov 2007- Jan 2008)

  • Puppetmaster: Luiz Adolfo de Andrade
  • By Raccord Productions – www.raccord.com.br
  • Related to the movie “Meu Nome Não é Johnny” (My Name´s Not Johnny) biggest success of brazilian cinema in 2008 (about 3.000.000 spectadors).
  • Location: Rio de Janeiro
  • Promotional ARG
  • Game provoked a discussion about phototherapy drugs, traffic of human organs and euthanasia.
  • Rabbit hole: a strange link in My Name´s Not Johnny website. A pretty girl called Clarice uploaded mysterious videos in youtube that contain a secret phone number. She came to Rio for investigate their brother´s killers: a mysterious Pharmacy called Phyto Pharma Brazil old site www.pjytopharmabrasil.com.br
  • Movie’s site
  • 91.112 between November 13 (2007) – January 08 (2008)
  • Promotional site
  • Compulsive Obsession Mainsite
  • Clarice’s profile at orkut
  • Clarice’s weblog
  • Clarice’s account on youtube the second video
  • Player-created video on youtube
  • Deborah’s flicker
  • Wikipedia entry
  • Brazil ARG WIKI entry
  • Player – created community at Orkut (created by player´s group called Cupula, the meaning of Mainstream in english)
  • Player – created weblog

Source: Luiz Adolfo Andrade (2009) ‘RE: [arg_discuss] ARGs Around the World data’, email to Christy Dena, 5th April.

Teoria das Cordas (‘String Theory) May/Maio – December/Dezembro 2007, Commissioned by MTV Brazil as a sequel to 2084/Instituto Prufica.

Teoria index [screenshot of ‘Teoria Das Cordas page at MTV Brazil: http://teoria.mtv.uol.com.br/]

Zona Incerta (‘Uncertain Zone’) After the success of the mini-game created by Superinteresse, they commissioned a full-blown ARG, with sponsorship from Guaraná Antártica. Pregame began in December/Dexembro 2006, the game began in January/ Janeiro and finished in May/Maio 2007). The main URL was www.zonaincerta.com.

Zona Incerta index

[screenshot of www.ZonaIncerta.com]

Game Element/Channels:

  • 9 websites, 3 of them character blogs (Sirangelo, 2008)
  • Videos on YouTube, a few TV and movie theatre ads (Sirangelo, 2008)
  • Magazine ads (28 different ads in 9 magazines during 3 months) (Sirangelo, 2008)
  • Stencil art & posters in cities around the country (Sirangelo, 2008)
  • Around 50 million soda cans and bottles printed with puzzles related to the game (Sirangelo, 2008)
  • 4 major live events, plus an ongoing ‘treasure hunt’ that involved 24 hidden bottles with pieces of a map inside, scattered around Brazil. (Sirangelo, 2008)

STATS:

  • 50 million page views (Sirangelo, 2008)
  • 325,000+ total unique visitors by the end of the game (Sirangelo, 2008)
  • 70,000 registered players (Sirangelo, 2008)
  • 16,000 posts in forums (Sirangelo, 2008)
  • 29 videos in Youtube, with more than 66,000 views (Sirangelo, 2008)
  • Player-created gameplay community at Orkut: DESVENDAMOS Zona Incerta (‘We Unmask Uncertain Zone) – 654 members
  • Gameplay within existing Superinteressante Orkut community

The ARG caused controversy when a Senator believed the fake footage (video), as co-designer André Sirangelo explains:

Basically the villains of our game were a company with a project to buy the Amazon rainforest and turn it into an area under private control, which of course has always been a delicate issue in Brazil. […] So we put a video out on YouTube – http://br.youtube.com/watch?v=LPrdeL2Lr98 – in which a fake CEO said the amazon doesn’t belong to any country etc. etc. The buzz was just OK in the first 2 months, so we didn’t expect much more of it… until the press found out about the video and forwarded it to the Senate. […] [O]ne of the most important senators in Brasilia made a speech alerting the people and the government against the menace of this multinational corporation that wanted to buy the amazon. I believe he even showed the video in the session. So the next day there were a few websites (including the senate’s) that ran stories on the subject. Among other things, they said the senate was trying to contact the company looking to start an inquiry. It wasn’t long until some journalists connected the dots and found out the company didn’t exist. That’s when it really exploded – after all, there are lots of companies that actually do want to buy the rainforest, but it’s not every day a powerful senator makes a speech about one that doesn’t really exist. So we made the cover of the country’s biggest newspaper. Suddenly the game was on every news channel and every major news website. […] So because of our sponsors we had to break TINAG and apologize to the senator, which was right I believe. Surprisingly, he was OK about the whole thing when he found out, he even made jokes about it. (Sirangelo, 2007)

Other impacts:

  • The players created a “National ARG Day” (March 30th) (Sirangelo, 2007)
  • “Because of the ‘incident’ with the senator and Arkhos Biotech I related before, plus the fake protests we organized during George W’s visit to Brazil, the press coverage was gigantic. The game was featured in every major newspaper and television network , magazines like the brazillian Rolling Stone and Carta Capital (weekly news coverage), most of the popular online news portals, tons of websites and even the foreign press, because of the Reuters coverage of Bush’s visit.” (Sirangelo, 2008)
  • Case study written by university students: Carolina Cristina Da Silva, Daniela De Souza Pereira, Érica Benites Manssour, Luana Helena Coelho, Monalisa Nascimento Fidelis, Moises De Agiar Junior, Nataly Guimaraes Muranaka, Nivea Audrey Gomes Boa Nova (2007) ‘ALTERNATE REALITY GAME: ANÁLISES TEÓRICAS E PRÁTICAS’, Monografia de Mídias Digitais da Universidade Metodista de São Paulo, sob orientação do professor Sérgio Dassie Genciauskas, UNIVERSIDADE METODISTA DE SÃO PAULO FACULDADE DE COMUNICAÇÃO MULTIMÍDIA, CURSO DE MÍDIAS DIGITAIS, São Bernardo do Campo.

Credits: “The team was very small, the game staff had 9 hired people and some freelancers. Most of the website design and programming, puzzle design and video filming and editing was done by partner studios. Our main team was:

Project coordinators – Marcelo Rondino and Renata Pavan Editor – Rafael Kenski Writers – André Sirangelo and Daniel Schneider Website coordinator – Denis V. Russo Designers – Gabriel Gianordoli and Fabrício Miranda Production coordinators – Claudia Campos and Renata Artigas Video directing and editing – Rodrigo Diaz Diaz” (Sirangelo, 2008)

Source: Sirangelo, André (2008) ‘about Zona Incerta, personal email to Christy Dena, 2nd March. Sirangelo, André (2007) ‘Res: Introductions’, email to IGDA ARG SIG listserv, 13th Nov [Online] Available at: http://five.pairlist.net/pipermail/arg_discuss/2007-November/000907.html

Engima Due to the lack of information about the extent of this project, I’m not sure if this is an ARG or not. ‘Enigma’ was created by Grafikonstruct to market the Nokia N95. It included a website for the fictional character ‘Mr. Zadeh Dubois’. It appeared to run for two months from September 13th 2007 to Dec 14th 2007.

CANADA

Un Homme Mort Quebec, Canada (Language: Canadian French)
All information supplied by in a personal email from Geneviève Cardin (Cardin, 2008) who received the info from Canoe.

DESCRIPTION

Online story on a website to augment a crime series, Un homme mort, that aired on TVA from February 26 to April 6, 2006. Viewers carried out investigations parallel to those seen in the televised episodes and gained access to the lives of the characters. It was aimed at engaging the television audience watching Un homme mort on TVA.

DESCRIPTION OF WEBSITE

The website offered visitors real-time interaction through a specialized visual re-creation of the places featured in the Un homme mort television series. Nine locations, comprising 80 rooms, were re-created, as well as six complementary fictional locations, including that of a bank, a police station and a housing project. As the story unfolded on television, elements were added to each of these on-line locations so that players could perform parallel investigations. Although the clues and codes were hidden, players were steered in their direction and accumulated points as they discovered them. Player ranking was displayed on the site and updated regularly. At the end of the season, the person with the highest score won a prize, and then when the game was over, there was a draw for the grand prize.

STATS:

  • Other platforms were included, such as nearly 100 additional codes and clues in printed media, on television (TVA, Argent) and on the Internet, including the websites of the commercial partners (GM, Brault et Martineau and Vidéotron). Other partners that displayed the codes and promoted the website included: SuperClub Vidéotron, Illico and their video-on demand website, TVA Films, Archambault.ca and zik.ca.
  • Almost 23,000 unique visitors per day (on average) to Unhommemort.com in first few weeks of game
  • 37 million pages viewed at Unhommemort.com in first few weeks of game
  • 90 million hits on different elements on Unhommemort.com in first few weeks of game
  • More than 90,000 unique participants at Unhommemort.com during first few weeks of game
  • 237 million + hits in total to Unhommemort.com
  • Increase in sales of TVA Publications’ magazines
  • 78,600 video-on-demand orders for UHM in three weeks – a new record
  • Nearly 20,000 people interacting on Illico’s UHM zone (digital television)
  • 500,000 visitors to the Services section of the Vidéotron website
  • Tripled visitors to 24heures.com, and pages views increased five-fold
  • Number of pages viewed per week on the Ici Montréal website increased fifteen-fold
  • Brault et Martineau’s primary goal was to increase membership for its VIP Club. Target: 10,000 new members. Final result: 35,000 new members

FULL CREDITS:

  • Un Homme Mort Producers: Aetios Productions (www.aetiosproductions.com)
  • Agency: Canoë (www.canoe.ca) – provided all the staff to produce this ARG
  • Ideation, creation, screenplay: Geneviève Cardin
  • Partner: Quebecor Affiliates (www.quebecor.com)
  • Partner: TVA network (tva.canoe.com)
  • Partner: LCN (lcn.canoe.ca)
  • Partner: Videotron (www.videotron.com)
  • Partner: Archambault + Zik (www.zik.ca)
  • Partner: ReseauContact (www.reseaucontact.com)
  • Partner: Journal de Montréal, and Journal de Québec
  • Partner: 24 heures (24hmontreal.canoe.ca)
  • Partner: Dernière heures (weekly magazine)
  • Partner: TVA films (www.tvafilms.com)

SOURCE: Cardin, G. (2008) ‘Un homme mort – stats’, personal email to Christy Dena, received 26th May, 2008. All stats supplied to Cardin from Canoe.

The Rivard Project (Le Projet Rivard) Beg March – 15 May 2008
All of the following information is supplied by Geneviève Cardin (Cardin, 2008).

DESCRIPTION:

Online puzzle to solve + hints to find, real onsite elements to pickup that have been hide or were delivered by characters in: Austin and Dallas (TX) , Montréal (CAN), Paris and Marseille (FR) Gameplay, characters and storyline inspired from the movie The American Trap, based on the true story of Lucien Rivard, a wellknow frenchcanadian criminal related to the French Connection, Jack Ruby, New Orlean mafia, and was responsible of almost 75% of the heroin import in America during the 50′ / 60′. Players were recruted to be part of one of the 2 teams : Cosa Nostra + FBI, and were competing to retrieve an important folder including a testotimony related to JFK assassination, which as been lost for 40 years, involving the character Rose Cheramie. Main characters were interacting via email, blogs or website or a 1-888 line.

WEBSITES:

  • www.therivardproject.com
  • www.lucienrivard.com
  • www.theamericantrap.com
  • www.anothersideofthetruth.com
  • www.weknowwhathappened.com

STATS:

  • 8 intensive weeks of gameplay
  • 6000 players from 27 countries: mainly France (Paris + Marseille), Canada, Québec, USA, UK
  • Budget : 65 000$ CDN, the ofiicial website for the movie was done with a specific budget of 35 000$ CDN, so total production = 100 000$ CDN

CREDITS:

  • Producer : Aetios Productions
  • Distributor : Alliance Vivafilm
  • Creation, puppermastering, screenplay : Geneviève Cardin (Baroblik)
  • Marketing US and Canada : Baroblik productions Inc.
  • Marketing and puppetmastering for France : Brand-Attitude

SOURCE: Cardin, G. (2008) ‘Re: Un homme mort – stats’, personal email to Christy Dena, received 9th November, 2008.

EL SALVADOR

Agente X Dec 2005-2006 Apparently a spy based ARG Old url: http://agente-x.com/

FRANCE

Can You Stop It?
April 2009/…

GERMANY
Although Brazil appears to have a larger player-base, Germany has had more ARGs and has a larger sophisticated hard-core ARG community. They have a dedicated site that provides announcements, during-game analysis, post-game reviews, gameplay forums and a wiki. This site, ARG Reporter (www.patmo.de), is run by Patrick Möller, who has worked as a PM on the ARG commissioned by EMI Germany: Philip Retingshof.

Das Kind [aka push11] (8 Nov – 12 Dec 2007), Droemer Knaur Verlag (publisher), VM People Droemer Knaur (a publisher) commissioned the project to promote Sebastian Fitzek’s thriller novel ‘Das Kind’.

daskind

It is a short (5 week) prologue to the novel. Das Kind was featured in a short documentary about ARGs in Germany on Polylux, which describes clues being distributed in USBs found in Pizzas. The project won the 2008 Gold BuchMarkt Award for Marketing Communication at the Leipziger book fair. It was created by the VM People (Viral Marketing People: www.vm-people.de).

Final Mill (1 Feb – 26 Feb 2008), Microsoft Germany
This 4 week ARG was commissioned by Universal McCann (www.universalmccann.de) and McCann Erickson (www.mccann.de) to promote Microsoft Germany’s MS Visual Studio 2008. Final Mill was conceived and managed by the VM People (Viral Marketing People: www.vm-people.de) with script by Hanno Raichle at the Scripthouse (www.scripthouse.de). ARGReporter wiki entry

finalmill

Fortuna (1 Jan – 21 Feb 2007), grassroots This 8 week ARG is the first grassroots (independent) ARG created by Claudia Sperlich. There were six websites, with other media unknown so far.

fortunanet

[Screenshot of www.Fortunanet.de]

Philipp Retingshof (1 Aug – 21 Sep 2006), EMI Germany Philipp Retingshof was created to promote the Enigma’s latest album ‘A Posteriori’, which was released in Germany on 22nd Sept 2006 & in other countries on 26th Sept 2006. There were ten websites and a video documentary of the ARG has been put online.

629px-phil_enigma

The Pirates Society

Rettet den Fussball (Save the Football) (7 May – 23 June 2006), Deutsche Telekom Rettet den Fussball, the first in Germany, was sponsored by Deutsche Telekom for the student creators who won a ‘Best Brains’ Award. There were fifteen websites and a PM-created forum (Möller, 2008). The full trail and guide is at ARG Reporter. Source: Möller, Patrick (2008) ‘Re: Worldwide ARG Research’, personal email to Christy Dena, 24th March.

Robin sucht Lena (30 May -22 Aug 2007), RTL (German Television Broadcaster) Robin sucht Lena ran for 13 weeks. It was commissioned by RTL (German Television Broadcaster) to extend the TV soap. There are three main characters, whose past the player can delve into. One of the characters, Shadow, took over the main blog at one point. The main site of the two, robinsucht.wordpress.com, had over 400,000 hits. It was created by Manuel Meimberg (Möller, 2008).

robin

[Screenshot of http://robinsucht.wordpress.com/2007/09/07/ingos-absage/]

Source: Möller, Patrick (2008) ‘Re: Worldwide ARG Research’, personal email to Christy Dena, 24th March.

GREECE

5th Day (Oct-Dec 2007) 5th Day (www.5th.gr) was developed for Sony Ericsson Greece. The game ran from October to December 2007 (teasers from March 2007).

  • It was a multi-lingual ARG
  • Over 30 websites, 9 professional actors, tv, radio, newspaper, teletext and live phone elements
  • Over 200.000 unique visitors and a vibrant community created over the 11 “episodes” of the game
  • It won the major advertising award in Greece (Gold Hermes) in the “Web Games” category
  • Just prior to the launch a faux trailer for the game was shown in cinemas
  • Coverage at ARGN.com

ISRAEL

The Architect (2009) Details at ARGN

NETHERLANDS
The Netherlands has a long history with the Nokia Games. Besides the Nokia Games, there are some professional and independent ARGs emerging and at least one blog dedicated to ARGs: Dutch-ARG.blogspot.com.

Onshuldig
The forum for this ARG began on the 8th of December. There is a character Thomas who needs help and it appears to still be running. Main site at: www.onschuldig.com, ingame forum, with videos on YouTube.

Cuypers Code
Cuypers Code was launched in November 2007 and seems to have a few sponsors, but due to the use of Flash I am unable to translate the site. There is a PM-created forum too: http://forum.res-nova.nl/fora/. Main site:  http://www.cuyperscode.com/

They Are Here I (T.A.H.) (June 2007), NBC Universal
They Are Here was commissioned by NBC Universal to launch two new 24/7 genre channels: Sci Fi Channel and 13th Street. A description of the game by the designers, Cultural Oil, is online. [Screenshot of: www.theyarehere.nl]

They Are Here II (T.A.H.) (28-29 Sept 2007), independent
This isn’t a full-blown ARG, but it continues the storyworld of the first T.A.H. ARG. It is an independent mini-game, developed for playing at PICNIC 2007. Info of the game at PICNIC event is here: http://www.picnicnetwork.org/artefact-8513-en.html. A description of the game by the designers, Cultural Oil, is online.

PORTUGAL

Find Tiago (29 Feb – ? 2008), Fantasporto
This ARG was created to launch the annual international film festival in Portas: Fantasporto (www.fantasporto.com). It requires registration and use of a mobile phone, and appears to be giving out prizes. The main site is at: www.ajudaotiago.com/ajuda, and the main in-game blog is at: www.ajudaotiago.com/blog/.

Searching for Miguel (2007) Created by beActive Main website

SWEDEN

Sanningen om Marika (‘The Truth About Marika’) (November 2006 – November 2007), Swedish Television (SVT)

The pregame began in November 2006 and then the missions started in May 2007 and continued until November 2007. SoM was commissioned by Swedish Television (SVT) to augment a television series of the same name. It involved the TV series, a fictional television studio debate held after every episode, video blogs, chats, forums, the online virtual world Project Entropia, a mobile augmented reality game, websites, blogs and real world events. SoM was created by The Company P, an experienced pervasive game design company. According to a forthcoming report from IPerG, ‘the story line was a direct descendant to the two IPerG productions ‘Prosopopeia Bardo I: Där vi föll’ (Jonsson et al 2006, Jonsson and Montola 2006) and ‘Prosopopeia II: Momentum’ (Jonsson, Montola et al 2007; Stenros, Montola et al 2007).’ Thousands played, but there were approximately 500 hardcore players.

  • Information at SVT: http://svt.se/svt/jsp/Crosslink.jsp?d=73202.
  • Main Gameplay site: http://www.conspirare.se/
  • Company P case study & video: http://www.thecompanyp.com/site/?page_id=7
  • Awards: Won the International Interactive Emmy Award for Best Interactive TV-Service 2008; won the 2008 AIB International Media Exellence Award for Most Creative Specialist; won the SIME08 for Best Online Entertainment and was nominated for two Prix Europa 2008 in Best TV Fiction and Best Emerging Media.

Further info and corrections provided by Petter Karlsson (2009) ‘Regarding The Truth About Marika’, personal email to Christy Dena, 14th May.

TURKEY

Save the Rhythm

Save the Rhythm ARG CaseStudy from 41? 29! on Vimeo.

ARG COMMUNITIES AROUND THE WORLD