The intelligence community’s blue-sky researchers, the Intelligence Advanced Research Agency (IARPA), announced they’re seeking designers for alternate-reality games, or ARGs. It’s for work, they swear. The project, which goes by the name UAREHERE (as in “you are here”), “may provide capabilities that allow for high-quality, externally valid social, behavioral and psychological research in near-real world contexts,” according to a request for information released this week.
Alternate reality games emerged in the last decade as a form of transmedia storytelling, or the practice of using multiple forms of media — particularly the internet — to craft a narrative structure. The directors of an ARG typically start by developing a story, litter clues on the internet, and when the players solve them, the players are led to further clues or a staged event featuring live actors.