Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

4 Questions – Jagoda continued, ARGs

Hi all,

What a wild and crazy world ARGs turned out to be! Looking forward to talking about the Jejune Institute and linking some of these ideas to cinema.


1. As I’ve fought with the word “immersion” through this whole semester, very much trying to resist the siren call of the Myth of Total Immersion, ARGs have given something new to think about: more so than the mediated AR and VR experiences from earlier in the semester, an ARG’s sense of immersion is not about “teleporting” or “escaping,” to a different (virtual) place, but rather about completely blurring the “game space” and “real space” of its players. What are some of the positives and negatives about this boundless and limitless and edgeless sense of immersion? What happens to a game, or cinematic experience, when it has no end and/or acts of containment? How does it play with a typical game’s notion of “attention” and “focus”?

2. How does an ARG’s sense of embodiment in these immersive game-worlds differ than that of an AR or VR experience? The cinema experience? I’m thinking here of the “interface” of these experience – the site where the player or viewer interacts with the game. In cinema, AR and VR, the screen is typically the main interface, with further inputs like controllers, gloves etc. However, in ARGs, there is no interface, or perhaps a series of interlocking interfaces. Is the body of an ARG participant in constant interface?

3. A number of the ARGs that are given as examples are built upon “fan experiences” of previously created content or as promotional experiments for commercial products. While we are going to be looking at smaller scale ARGs that doesn’t rely on the centralized, capitalistic systems that Antropy so fears in AAA video game development, why do you think so many of the successful ARGs seem to have some content to some previously established world/continuity? I’m thinking here about Jadoga’s insistence, built on Wark’s, that “art produces or reconfigures desire” that depends on “uncertainty” and a “surrender of control” (215). I might tie this to messages boards, in particular for an earlier pre-Twttier show like Lost.

4. What role do you think conspiracy plays in ARGs? It seems like a number rely on the conspiratorial tropes in their content, but in what ways might the notions of hidden networks of secret power be essential to the gameplay (the form) of the game? With their focus on collective play and collective action, what role does being social play in conspiracies and in what positive and negative ways does an ARG leverage that? I think there is something more, unformed in my thoughts right now, about being the select group “in the know” and the power that comes with that…

Tue, November 20 2018 » Future Cinema