Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) set players in a fictional game world that takes place both online and in the real world. Challenges may be given via e-mail, phone calls, or SMS and sometimes include direct contact from in-game characters. Those tasks are then completed offline, in the real world. The game “World Without Oil” had players explore what life would be like if we were in a true oil crisis. Players acted out their every day lives and shared their experiences online. Players were immersed in a game world that was both rooted in fantasy and reality.
A new ARG called “America 2049” is gathering headlines and buzz before its launch on Monday, April 4th. It sets players in an alternative future where the US has degenerated into “The Divided States of America”. What events caused this change and who is behind it? And more importantly, which side are you on?
Background: In October of 2012, Rachel Ng created the SMRTTid, an advanced RFID device that makes the use of keys, bank cards, and IDs obsolete. However, this new technology also allowed large businesses and governments to gain unlimited access to our information and private activities. As an oppressive fundamentalist regime took office, they also introduced into the water supply a drug that inhibits aggressive behavior, called serennAide. These events set the stage for this new ARG.
Beginning on 12am EST, April 4th, 2011, players will be transported to America 2049. As you explore this new world, will you side with the Council For American Heritage (CAH), a group that aims to protect “traditional American values” and all who threaten it – or Divide We Fall (DWF), a “terrorist” group that is fighting for the civil rights of the American people? What will you make of a country where the central government is powerless and has been divided into individual states, each with their own rules?
As players dive deeper into the game, they will notice how it addresses parallel concerns in our own reality: privacy, civil rights injustices, and the government’s control of our behavior and choices. And while the game has not officially launched yet, there is much to see. Trying to access the Divided We Fall homepage locks you out and directs you to the Council For American Heritage website. Could that be because the CAH is doing business with the web browser company Zooglio?
You can prepare for this new ARG by going to America2049.com and signing up for updates.
America 2049 has also been nominated for a “Transmedia Award” at the 8th Annual Games for Change Festival. Learn more here.