What is an ARG? - Alternate Reality Games Explained - Prima Games

What is an ARG? – Alternate Reality Games Explained

Imagine a video game that makes you go outside

by Daphne Fama

Alternate Reality Games, called ARGs for short, are one of my favorite game mediums. But what even is an ARG? Here’s Alternate Reality Games Explained.

What is an ARG? – Alternate Reality Games Explained

Alternate Reality Games is a form of online game where a fictional storyline is presented as if it’s actually happening in the real world. Hence, “alternate reality”. But beyond this basic idea, ARGs can vary wildly.

Most involve a website, or a series of pages, that contain cryptic puzzles and challenges. Some even incorporate real-world elements. Some ARGs are video series. Sometimes an ARG is immediately recognizable as an ARG and other times it doesn’t reveal itself as one until much later.

What almost all ARGs have in common is a mystery which must be unraveled by searching for clues (either on a site, in videos, or in real life), which can then be used to either uncover a piece of the narrative or another clue.

Many ARGs take on a horror slant, like in the case of the recently viral ARG Welcome Home Restoration Project, but not all. One particularly popular ARG occurred in Overwatch 1, as a way to hype up the release of the Hero and hacker Sombra.

In the Overwatch ARG, players discovered a set of hexidecmial values in an Overwatch video. By translating that set into ASCII, they uncovered a secret and seemingly incomprehensible text. That text was translated using an XOR Cipher, which then revealed a message in Spanish that read, “She who has the information, has the power…”

Related: All Characters in Welcome Home ARG Listed

These types of puzzles are fairly common in ARGs, and communities usually form around them in order to discover more clues and to pool collective resources and brainpower into solving them.

Other popular ARGs include Cicada 3301, which began on 4Chan and utilized many real-world clues, and The Wyoming Incident. Even if you’re not interested in playing these alternative reality games yourself, seeing how these games unravel is a great way to spend a lazy afternoon.

If you’re curious about the ongoing ARG Welcome Home, here are all the secrets discovered so far: All Discovered Secrets in the Welcome Home ARG.

About The Author

Daphne Fama

A lawyer turned game journalist, Daphne Fama spends an inordinate amount of time playing games across the spectrum but she'll always have a soft spot for horror and JPRGs. Want to see all the best animal pictures the internet has to offer? Follow her on twitter at @DaphneFama.

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