The Alternate Reality Game

There is some new content for the game Portal, which consists of a series of cryptic morse code transmissions and noises embedded within the game; which, when decoded and converted into something more readable, reveals itself to be images alluding to a sequel to Portal. However, without any sort of user intervention and participation, these images would not have been published, nor would there be any sort of evidence of a sequel to Portal. This is a viral ad campaign, one which relies on user intervention and curiosity–an Alternate Reality Game.

This, however, is not the only time someone has relied on an ARG for advertising. Many years back, Bungie Studios ran a real-life and internet-based ARG to promote Halo 2 for the XBox, via a website known as I Love Bees. Furthermore, Warner Bros. promoted Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight through a viral campaign advertising Harvey Dent as a real life political figure and role model. Cryptic imagery embedded within Harvey Dent’s website, however, led Nolan’s fans on a scavenger hunt, eventually leading them to the website

While these are examples of Alternate Reality Games being used as a form of viral marketing, they are generally interesting as collaborative works of performance, and quite creative methods of attracting user attention not only from the internet, but from other media outlets as well. It would be interesting to see the ARG being utilized not as a means of commercial advertising, but as a form of performance art.

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