Online Augmentation to
'Emerging Participatory Culture Practices:
Player-Created Tiers in Alternate Reality Games'
by Christy Dena

Main Page > Tiering: Levels > Tiering: Types > Resources: Sources > Resources: Types > Resources: Fictional > SUMMARY > Bibliography


ARGs are a unique format in that they have materially separate content that can be utilised to address different people. ARGs can be another point-of-entry for the same or new audiences of an existing entertainment property. They can also facilitate their own different players and audiences with tiering. It is the gameplay resources cited here that create another tier...a tier enginerred by what Thompson (2006b, pp.46) calls 'information specialists':
Information specialists are essential to a large popular campaign, as they catalogue all of the various information presented in the game world. While a few may take such efforts to an extreme by creating or maintaining well designed guide or wiki, the majority of information specialists store the information locally and/or create smaller, yet vital, websites. By providing the information either on the forums or by request, they are essential in helping casual players follow along with the game developments. This aids new players by getting them up to speed quickly which often helps them to become engaged with the game experience.
Gameplay resources address what is sometimes called 'casual players' or 'lurkers'. It is these lurkers, what Thompson (2006b, pp.47) calls 'readers' that make up the largest audience segment in ARGs. As Thompson (ibid.) explains, they '[t]hey browse the various websites, both in-game and out-of-game, following up on the story narrative and reading what other players are doing and saying'. In the journal essay I posit some reasons why there is such a large 'non-playing' audience segment in ARGs and find that players create resources that are essential to the gameplay...but also that irrespective of the amount of resources ARG designers implement to resolve this issue (if there is indeed one), players provide a specific entertainment experience that PMs cannot...

If you haven't read my essay it is in the Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, which is available in hardcopy and online. If you have institutional (university) access then you can download the essay for free through your university library. If you are having trouble or don't have institutional access, or would like to send me feedback (positive or negative), contact me at my email address.


One of the things I did not mention in the essay or this online augmentation is movement between tiers. For instance, a casual player can become a hard-core one. That is, there are two sides to tiering: one, addressing different audience segments and players, and two, encouraging movement between them. Jones (2007b) explains this approach:
What we found is that it's really interesting to build your project to cater to those tastes and to almost look at it as a series of graduations that we're going to give you an experience that we'll be engaging at this level, the level that you expect, but we'll also use it to build you into the next level. Once you graduated to that next level, the entire story world will sort of blossomed for you and open up and allow you to see that there's more under the surface. Once you feel like you've understood that section, you have an opportunity to scratch the surface again and go down deeper and deeper and deeper until you're at a level where people are really so immersed in the story that they know as much as you do in many ways.
Indeed Thompson (2006b, pp.47) outlines some techniques for shifting gameplay styles: There is so much more I haven't addressed in this online augmentation or the journal essay, and I don't consider either to be the conclusive. Indeed, I've provided this online resource in the hope that it may provoke some discussion about the issues...irrespective of where they lead. Thankyou for your time. :)


Created: 24 Sep, 2007
Last Updated: 22 Jan, 2008
Author: Christy Dena