You may be wondering how exactly can an ARG bring forth so many people to collectively work together or to individually pursue such great lengths for what is essentially a game. Our previous two articles explain the fundamentals of ARGs’ potential and the impact it had on the past. But in this article, we’ll be seeing how exactly said impact is made. Right now, in the present and how said potential will continue to grow in the future, especially for marketing brand awareness.
How ARGs Gains Their Reach
Alternate Reality Games, in its essence, are puzzle solving games where the players would need to work as a collective to solve. Even ARGs targeted for individuals to solve alone like recruitment ARGs still encourages a sense of community within the players, collaboratively increasing their knowledge-base through networking. Therefore, it is through that collective process that ARGs spread like wildfire. Especially in this day and age, where sharing information through something like mainstream social media is only 1 click away.
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However, that is not the only reason an ARG can quickly become so popular. An ARG like the Twitter account The Sun Vanished makes use of surreal story-telling elements. An ARG is a narrative playground. If you can create a story for the ARG that would evoke a sense of interest alongside the challenge it provides, you can have yourself a viral hit ready to be sent out.
How Your Brand Can Tie to an ARG
With some ARGs, it seems almost impossible to put the face of your brand into it. But the key here isn’t to put your brand blatantly to the game. That takes away the intrigue of it all. Your potential consumers must know that your brand is an ever-looming presence in the game without being intrusive about it. Below are 2 examples of how a brand is implemented within a viral ARG.
I Love Bees, Halo 2 (Game) Marketing Campaign
In August 2004, hints of a website were dropped everywhere but were first advertised by a hidden message within the game’s trailer. When taken to the website, the players then uncovered that it was apparently being taken over by an A.I. and through this campaign, foreshadows and context of the story for the game is slowly uncovered. From the people that found it, spreading it, and reaching out for help, the campaign eventually reached out to over 3 million visits and players around the world. This campaign, titled I Love Bees was commissioned by Microsoft for their upcoming game, Halo 2. The campaign itself received many awards for being innovative and incredibly unique at its time. Although the ARG weren’t too blatantly obvious that it was a Halo 2 marketing campaign, the people that paid attention to its updates and the participating players never forget.
Why So Serious, Batman: The Dark Knight (Film) Marketing Campaign
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Some marketing ARGs are a bit more obvious as to what it promotes. The Batman: the Dark Knight’s marketing ARG titled Why So Serious. This campaign was a viral hit not only due to it being in the shadow of the big movie title, but also for its way of fan-service. The puzzles were simple enough, thus it doesn’t require super intelligence to solve but also hard enough to invoke many people asking questions, thus the sense of community. This campaign sparked over 10 million people to be immersed in a world-wide puzzle-solving agenda. And with a lot of the orders were to take pictures and share it online, it leads to a domino effect of intrigue and an ever-growing audience.
The Power that ARG Gives
Besides having the power to spread your brand and product, ARG has the capability to give a power as well. And said power is ownership. One of the key aspects of gamification is to make something done and worth the effort feel like it’s the player’s. Thus, they’d have a sense of bond to said experience. And with it, a bond with the product and/or brand.
“The experience must transfer ownership to the Audience, make it feel like it’s theirs”
Susan Bonds, 42 Entertainment President & CEO.