Steve Peters

Experience Design

NUMB3RS does Alternate Reality Games

Well, I gotta say, my expectations weren’t very high, but I was really pleasantly surprised by the way CBS’s NUMB3RS portrayed Alternate Reality Games in last night’s episode (Primacy). While not exactly all-inclusive of the scope, they did have an interesting short definition of ARGs: A treasure hunt played out in the real world using actual media.

Even though it didn’t include narrative (although the accompanying MMORPG could handily take care of that aspect), what they depicted did indeed capture the coolest thing about Alternate Reality Games: Inserting “Magic” into the real world, (which I’ve talked about before). The thrill of stuff invading our reality (OK thrill, yeah, except for the guy dying part), which is what makes ARGs different from interactive fiction or your typical adventure game.

This was great fun for me to watch, listening to these guys talk excitedly about ARGs, just like I try to do at parties (usually resulting in blank stares and runs for the punch bowl). Plus, it’s pretty huge for the genre, and is pretty historic in that it’s the first time that the term A.R.G./Alternate Reality Game has been used in mainstream entertainment like this.

So congrats to us! All grown up and stuff! It makes me misty. :)