About using social media to set up rabbit holes

This week we participated in using different kinds of social media to set up rabbit holes for ARGs. Through the presentations and the testing, we all discovered pros and cons of using social media as a rabbit hole. One thing that interests me very much is the spread of the rabbit hole, and the way we are able to tell people about the social media we are using (letting people know about the rabbit hole).

It seems that a lot of social media, though having wide spread dispersion, are at a loss in letting people “come upon” the rabbit hole. A very big reason of this situation is that the rabbit hole, set up via social media, is usually by a fairly new account. Therefore, the account does not attract much attention. Without attention, it is very hard to get a random stranger to notice the account. Of course, an older account may be better. For example, older accounts on facebook, snapchat,etc will already have a sizable friendlist. However, in this case we are still limiting our scope to a small part of the actual game. Anyone that is not a friend, still finds it hard to know about the account. In places like youtube or twitch, it may be easier to attract attention, as the algorithms allow a viewer to view similar videos (and popular videos). Thus getting to what is trending, or maybe become the top of a kind of videos, may work right? Not neccessarily. We have to know that for a topic to be “hot”, it is inevitable that a lot of people will be streaming or making videos on it. Therefore, even taking the trend, you are just one in a million (maybe some exaggeration) of a chance being watched by each individual. Adding on to that, the viewer often goes to the bigger channels, the channel that have longer time, more videos, more subscriptions… Thus simply doing a video related to a trend does not work. How about becoming the best at the topic? In class, people have suggested (in the twitch presentation), that we can find a topic (a game for example) that people like, but not many people are streaming. Good idea. However, is that really possible. Any MOBA games, or big RPGs or new hypes will always have a lot of people streaming it (think about LOL, or fortnite, or in the past dark souls), that leaves us with the less popular indie games, where less people have heard of. The problem with this is that, when uploading a video of smaller games, (apart from really big channels where there are already alot of fixed viewers), people tend to use generic language to describe the games: “three horror games”, or “five indie games”, or “five really bad games”. There may be some games that may require titles of their own, for example those really bad games on steam (which somehow people still love to see playing). But these are fairly rare, and hard to come by.

Now, lets talk about a potential way of attracting audience–reddit. It seems up till now reddit is not that popular with the majority any more, and even I only got to know about reddit stuff via youtube. But I find it interesting that there is a specific group of people on reddit, and on nowhere else (maybe youtube), who takes a liking to strange stories and rabbit holes of all kind. I remember there are forums of all kinds of scary stories, and all kind of weird encounters etc. Now, in this case, we simply do not need to attract audience (but say the believability of our rabbit hole), since there exist a ready-made group of people on these kind of things, and funny enough, there is already groups and forums that hold them together. Therefore, we do not need to do anything, but just post the rabbit hole, and inevitably poeple will come and discuss.

3 thoughts on “About using social media to set up rabbit holes

  1. My group was considering using Reddit for our rabbit hole because of the built-in audience. There are whole subreddits for conspiracies, as well as one for ARGs, so we would already have an audience who’d be interested. We thought the challenge with Reddit would be making our rabbit hole stand out among all the other weird things/conspiracies. We were also wondering whether it would feel “too easy” for ARG fans if they found a rabbit hole on a reddit forum for ARGs, for instance, and how that affects their investment in the game.

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  2. It’s interesting the way you bring up the blatant signals of fakeness that present a challenge when setting up the sockpuppet rabbit hole. It’s interesting the way ARG’s seem to lean into and accept them by only setting up months in advance, and in the case of the UChicago ARG’s using the photographs of people’s whose true selves are very easily findable within the group. This could be compared to the sort of long term set up of something like Lasagna cat, (https://www.youtube.com/user/lasagnacat/videos) a youtube channel which posted live action reenactments of garfield cartoons, followed by themed song parodies. Lasagnacat went on a nine year hiatus during which undiscovered youtube pages were set up for the eventual discovery upon a series of new videos being put out nearly a decade later. With the builtin audience of the fans of the channel, they were able to lie in wait to revive the thing, a benefit ARG’s may not have, who might not be willing to put in years of preparation for a game that doesn’t have an audience. There is room for exploration of very long term preparations like this in ARG’s, but it needs to have strong backing.

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  3. I think this is very valid. I find it very interesting to think about how things have gone viral. In order to establish credibility you need to have a credible presence which means having a decent amount of followers and engagement to legitimize it. This is a paradox because in order to establish credibility you need to have followers and in order to get followers you need to have credibility. A good place to start is with your own network and creating an organic community that is passionate about what you are doing and then going from there.

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