Immersion and the ARG

In watching the interview about Sleep No More and generally just thinking about the show and immersive theater, an interesting question is posed in relation to ARGs. In Sleep No More all of the audience members, the parallel to the players of an ARG, wear masks. According to the interview, this is central to the immersive nature of the show. It allows the individual to fade into the crowd and behave as they wouldn’t usually, to become part of the show. In an ARG, however, players are not necessarily masked in this way. In a primarily online ARG, a player might be masked by their username, but if the game has some real-world components that mask is taken from them. The question I see is would allowing players to remain metaphorically masked, able to take on new identities, enable them to build the game world up in interesting new ways?

While I know theater and ARGs seek immersion in different ways, the question of masks is still important, I think. Theater seeks to immerse in a way that makes the audience feel like they are living within the show. This, to a degree, is true of an ARG, however in a game you must be able to continue with your everyday life, whereas you are fully able to set that aside for the duration of a performance. I think allowing players to take on game identities, like in a LARP, would assist them with stepping in and out of the game as necessary, and maybe even help with bleed.

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