Alternative Reality Games have taken on a life of their own. They range in scale and producer, including everything from sock companies to video games to movies. ARG’s consist of interactive drama being played out in an online arena, using real world spaces. Masses of people create collaborative social networks to solve a mystery or problem that would otherwise be impossible to solve individually. This means a mission/challenge is presented to a mass audience, usually web-based, and the participants must work together to find a solution. I stumbled upon an ARG created to promote the movie Battle: Los Angeles. In this campaign, they attempted to rally the masses to help “battle” aliens and uncover information about an alien invasion.
The idea behind the ARG was to include the masses in an adventure to uncover information about an impending alien invasion. They created a Facebook application to enable users to engage in “battles.” The application would post updates from battles the achievements accomplished during battle. In addition to the app, the website argn.com gives this summary: “Alternatively, by exploring the movie’s viral content at websites like ReportThreats.org and UnidentifiedEnemy.com, you find classified (and heavily redacted) documents, video interviews with alien experts, eyewitness testimonials, and intelligence files detailing the alien invasion. While these files don’t call for much interaction, they do offer a fairly comprehensive preview of the film’s alien antagonists.” The aforementioned websites are very extensive and provide details to help the participants. The ARG also gave fans a chance to win prizes through participation.
This campaign wasn’t a new idea compared to other ARG campaigns. It did seem to blend multiple forms of media together effectively (facebook, website, viral video, etc.). ARG’s effectively involve the fans/participants giving them a feeling of ownership over the project. Along with publicity generated from the games, their ARG provides a built in audience. I’m sure the percentage of people who participated in the game and didn’t see the movie is minimal. These are also the viewers who will promote the film via word-of-mouth. The campaign was definitely well funded and executed. Successful? The movie generated $202 million at the global box office with a production budget of $70 million and up to $30 million in marketing. As for summer blockbusters, it isn’t setting any records, but it made the studio a nice chunk of change.