ARG: The A’s of Reality Games


Augmented Reality Games

“Augment the game with reality, but it’s still a game”

To augment something means to make something bigger or more valuable by adding to it. ARGs of this kind are differentiated by their approach of taking a game and pulling it out of the traditional confines of gaming medium like a PC, smartphone or console. It takes the same brush strokes used inside the four corners of a virtual world and paints this into a  larger canvas of a real world environment.

The game and its value is added to or ‘augmented’ by its use of the player’s immediate reality. It takes the same mechanics and goals of the game and uses  real life environment to enhance or create novel gameplay situations.

Example: Rather than shooting zombies in a post-apocalyptic city gameworld, an augmented reality game invites you to fight them within your own city streets, like iPhone game ‘Zombies Everywhere’ (video).

Alternate Reality Game

“Step into an alternative world. Immerse yourself in a different reality.”

The player’s experience requires them to jump and immerse themselves into an alternate reality, one which can sit closely beside our existing one, but is fundamentally different. In these worlds, what-ifs are explored along a central concept and the player is invited to act within the context of this changed reality to progress the game.

Example: What if the there was a tear in the time and space of our universe? What if the voices from our futures begin to leak through this tear? Will you join with people across the globe finding and piecing all these possible futures back together?

Augmented Alternate Reality Games

Here’s where it gets interesting. Alternate reality games can and do use augmentation to help create the game that can be more easily placed within your existing world. Using augmentation creates immersive opportunities for players to interact directly with the things and concepts within this alternate reality, which is especially useful if the game concept would be more difficult to visualise or describe otherwise.

Example: XM, portals and the blue/green factions fighting over your local city and town landmarks. Google’s ARG Ingress is engaging more than 500,000 global players.

Find more useful definitions of ARGs at This post is part of the A to Z of Gamification.

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