An important part of why I founded WARG as a collective (it’s “We” AR Games for a reason) is because I believe that ARGs have the potential to really bring people together in a way that many other forms of media cannot. I tell this story a lot, but my first ARG, The Crucible, resulted in two weddings between players who had never met each other prior to the game.
A good ARG stirs emotions in the players and PMs alike that you just don’t get with less-interactive media. When you can talk to a character, and you really get to know them and get a sense of them as a person and not just a character in a story, you develop an intimate relationship with the story/world as a whole. That relationship with the work extends to the other people that you’re sharing these experiences with. I’ve made longstanding relationships with fellow PMs and players alike, as well as players who became co-PMs over time due to them making themselves an integral part of the storytelling experience. You don’t have the opportunity to do that with actors on a screen.
The closest thing to a player-community experience that you get is in current “fandom culture”, but even with that there are fundamental differences. Modern fandom culture creates the illusion of a tight-knit community around a shared interest, but most fandom communities are huge, with thousands of members, most of whom don’t know one another from Adam. There are small sub-groups of most major fandoms where the members share a particular niche within the wider community, and that gets a bit closer to what it’s like to be a part of a highly interactive ARG’s playerbase, but that still doesn’t capture the feeling of being invested in the lives of the characters, and the way that a player community as a whole can collectively impact those characters’ lives. There’s just something about the knowledge that you and your friends’ suggestions can result in someone’s salvation or demise that is especially conducive to relationship-building.
All of this is to say that ARGs bring people together in new and interesting ways. Intense and beautiful ways. In my humble opinion, I think this is fantastic. As I’ve mentioned before, I want my work to make people feel things that are significant, even profound. There is no more profound feeling than love, be that romantic, platonic, or fraternal. I want WARG to cultivate a community that carries over from one game to the next, building long-lasting friendships along the way. Each new game should bring new players into the fold, and the community that already exists should welcome them with open arms. That’s my vision for how this should work.
The community we have already is like this. Every time a new person shows up in the server, there are at least a handful of people around to welcome them. We all feel comfortable bringing our joys and our pains to the community. We share our varied creative gifts, as they relate to ARGs or otherwise. We support each other. We love each other. I’m proud to say that we have one of the most genuinely kind and caring communities on the internet. I can only hope that as we continue to grow, we’re able to maintain this sense of closeness.
What do you look for in a community? What does “community” mean to you?