So I got an email through Gameful that someone posted a comment on my wall. Of course when I went to look and reply, it was gone.

It said:

Good Day,

How is everything with you, I picked interest on you after going through your short profile and deemed it necessary to write you immediately.I have something very vital to disclose to you, but I found it difficult to express myself here, since it's a public site.Could you please get back to me on:( for the full details.
Have a nice day
Thanks God bless.
Mr Mordzifa.

Now I can only HOPE that this is an ARG and that it's a clever way to do a rabbit hole. I did a search for "mr mordzifa frank" and it had all sorts of posts on networks such as I Love Etsy and Sherlock Holmes, all talking about being from Ghana and looking for a business relationship. Which of course does sound decidedly spam-full, but again: how better to subvert gamers expectations and play that line between?


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Comment by Vanessa B Baylen on March 7, 2013 at 3:20pm

I think it can work, certainly, Lasse. It's about how the rabbit hole is, how that therefore means potential players will react to it, and what your expectations of a drop out rate are.

I've wondered about "inviting" previous players of my games to a new game with a curious message. If you similarly have a list of your own, or have allowed potential players / past ARGers to volunteer their contact details... you could certainly make it work with the "spam" idea too.

Look forward to learning more about your game as you go!

Comment by Lasse Hakulinen on February 27, 2013 at 6:52am

Hi Comptess,
I see your point now and I agree that most people would delete the email as spam and only some of the remaining people would be potentially interested in an ARG. If you would have a list of email addresses of people who have played ARGs or otherwise could be potential players, I think then that kind of rabbit hole could work.

However, I like the idea that right in the beginning you don't necessarily know that it's a game and you are just trying to find out what's going on. Therefore I want to believe that some people (the ones you want to find anyway) would be interested in the ARG also after they found out that it's not real. Also, this is something I'm working on currently, so therefore I want to believe it could work...

Comment by Comptess Hammond on February 26, 2013 at 10:55pm
Hi Lasse
I was putting myself in the shoes of someone who would not be interested in ARGs. It certainly isn't my personal view though and I could be way off in the numbers; their might be a few who are pleasantly surprised by the realisation.
Comment by Lasse Hakulinen on February 21, 2013 at 6:34am

There are some discussion in some of the "News & Rumors" threads in the Unfiction forum where people are pondering wheter a received email is a spam or a rabbit hole. So, I think it's definitely one method of advertising an ARG. It's another questions that where you got the email addresses and who you are "spamming" etc.

I like the "this is not a game" idea in ARGs and I believe that if it is cleverly implemented, finding the rabbit hole and being able to participate in the game can be a reward itself. Therefore, I don't quite understand this comment:

"The 30 others might be involved right until they find out it was a game, and therefore a complete waste of their time.
I'm not seeing too many people having fun here..."

Why realizing it's a game = complete waste of time? However, I agree that the drop out rate would be high in this kind of rabbit hole.

Comment by Comptess Hammond on February 16, 2013 at 12:48am
Thank you too for the chat. Very interesting. :)
Comment by Vanessa B Baylen on February 12, 2013 at 11:50am

I understand many ARGs have random rabbit holes so people do not know it a game for a long while. Older ARGs prided themselves on "this is not a game", so the idea of registering for one would be the antithesis.

I totally understand about people wanting to know that it's a game and wanting to play when they know about it and want to etc. And completely agree that the majority would delete the email as SPAM.

But I think a few would do what we did and google the key name and IF instead of seeing that Mr Mordzifa has spammed tons of people, if the unique name instead came up with a weird random wonderful webpage and/or FB and/or twitter... I can see that being a pleasant and curious surprise for the curiously minded.

And it doesn't have to be an ARG where you share your phone number or get horror phone calls. I was at ARGfest last year and the idea of ARGs being about "wonderment" came up. I think that's quite lovely.

Thanks for the chat, btw!

Comment by Comptess Hammond on February 12, 2013 at 3:58am
It could be an interesting experiment.
I think you're suggesting involving people in a game who don't know they are playing a game? This could be problematic.

Imagine this.
I fire off a hundred emails to random folks trying to involve them in something fun/mysterious/etc.
I'd expect 70% to delete the email as SPAM (I just made that statistic up but I'd guess it would be something quite high).

The 30 others might be involved right until they find out it was a game, and therefore a complete waste of their time.
I'm not seeing too many people having fun here...

However, what if I am upfront early on and this random bunch of people know it is an ARG?
Then I would expect at least a 90% delete rate of the emails unless there was some real incentive in it. It might be worthwhile if you send out enough emails but wouldn't it be simply better to promote the ARG first and 'SPAM' them later?

I have been involved in an ARG where players registered their interest and provided contact details, resulting in cryptic emails and rather horrifying phone calls in the middle of the night. Everyone involved knew they were playing so the effort and result wasn't wasted.
Comment by Vanessa B Baylen on February 11, 2013 at 1:13pm

Absolutely, and thanks for the reply.

...but wouldn't it be interesting to start an ARG (alternate reality game) that way...?

Comment by Comptess Hammond on February 9, 2013 at 11:32pm
I received the exact same email. It looks like Mr Mordzifa has been busy all over the web sending 'vital' emails... My verdict: SPAM.


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