Wednesday, November 12, 2008

No, I'm not an ARG person

Matthew Gallant just emailed me to say "So Snackbar isn't a front for an ARG, right? Just making sure." No, no it's not. He was joking, but I wasn't sure at first. I mean, look at it. There are plans to change the design, be assured.

To everyone, especially Michael Abbott, I'm sorry. I knew about her for a while, and I didn't realize there would be any harm or foul; had I known Michael was engaging in solicited emails with her, I'd have given him the tip. I've known for a month.

I was not aware that ARG's are highly offensive to some; it was no harm to me that the blog served as a low-importance backstory for a supporting character in some book I don't care about. One of the comments on Simon's breaking of the story says

"Mark, most writing about games is simply not of a quality and most critique superficial, but the blog was well-written and attempted to delve in deeper critique.

A sad reflection on the state of games writing? Probably."

And that was why it didn't bother me. It was unique, quality content. Why is it fine to accept vanilla crap content with blatant advertising but not quality, bloggy type of content with non-intrusive advertising?

The deceipt, you say. But deceipt happens all the time. People tell white lies all the time. Strangers, acquiantances, and co-workers lie all the time, and we accept that. And technically, the site never lied--the "about me" page was short and had only two links, both of which were highly telling. The handler has basically admitted that it was a mistake and they'd wished people had figured it out sooner--they didn't want this to happen. Even they are a little unhappy with how it turned out. It is possible someone could have figured it out immediately--the fact that no one did until now is just as telling about our Internet habits as it is about how convincingly real a fictionaly game blogger like Rachael Webster is.

Engaging in lots of email conversations--being upset about that is something I understand. But the fact that she did it at all doesn't just have to elicit feelings of anger because "oh no, we were marketed to"--instead, it can remind us that we still have much to learn about interaction on the Internet and about the state of the game blogging community. We can be introspective instead of pissy.


Blogger Travis Megill said...

I guarantee that no matter how great the marketing is, I'm still not buying a mystery novel.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Etelmik said...

I'm not either, but I'll still read the game blog of one of the characters = P

9:32 AM  
Blogger Michael Abbott said...

Two things: 1) You're obviously a lot smarter than me. ;-) 2) I'm satisfied by the cordial correspondence I've had with Rachael's "handlers" since this all blew up. I think they were trying something different, and they miscalculated a bit regarding how such an approach might affect those of us who invested ourselves in trying to help PixelVixen707. She seemed genuinely interested in some things I was writing about, and we exchanged some very pleasant emails about common interests. In the end, I think whoever wrote those emails and blog posts is for real in the sense of someone who cares about games and thoughtful conversation about them.

It's the meta part of it that got messed up, at least for me, but I'm happy with how we discussed it yesterday, and I bear no resentment or ill will. As I've written before, I like ARGs...but I think they probably work best when they're consensual, especially if I'm being asked to devote my time and energy to them.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Etelmik said...

Oh man, that looked like I was singling you out, didn't it?

I mentioned you because you happened to have the most elaborate and personal experience with her, it seems. The "anger" part is something that I see spread abroad.

10:00 AM  
Blogger chesh said...

Yeah, I'm with you on this. I was actually pretty disappointed when I found out about the book, as it sounds completely uninteresting to me, but the fact remains that I've learned things from reading her blog and it's been enjoyable.
The only thing that will upset me is if the gaming posts cease after this. But obviously someone was writing well thought out games criticism, so why not continue?

10:52 AM  
Blogger Travis Megill said...

It looks like a new gaming related post was added yesterday, so it looks like it will continue.

Or is it just continuing far enough to make the ARG posts look like they're nestled between real gaming posts! Now I'm starting to doubt whether some of the games she blogs about that I haven't played actually exist! Was Fracture just an elaborate ARG fake? :)

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed reading PixelVixen707, but, regardless of whether or not the quality content keeps on coming, it's been axed from my feed reader. Call that "pissy" if you wish, but I'm not mad or anything. I simply don't have time to mess about with yet another interesting games blog, particularly if it isn't 100% straight shooting.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Scott Juster said...

Some of the game writing was actually pretty good, which means that even thought the identity may have been fictional, at least the gaming ideas were honest.

In the end, no one was scammed out of any money, nor threatened in any substantial way. I look at it as a cheap lesson to do my homework before believing people are who they say they are in the Internet.

3:50 PM  

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