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Providing Student News to Old Dominion University Since 1930

Mace & Crown

ARGS: The Latest Evolution in Video Games

Welcome Home. One of the Augmented Reality Games discussed in the article. All rights reserved to Clown Illustration.

New forms of art and entertainment always come with the passage of time. Before radio, there were novels. Before TV, there was radio. One of the more recent mediums is video games. Although many of us have been playing video games for a while, they have occurred as the result of decades of research and are also gaining variety in what type of experience they can offer players.

Differences between mediums

One of the newest forms of gaming is ARGs, or alternate reality games. Before going into ARGs specifically, though, it’s important to distinguish between other similar entertainment genres such as AR (alternate reality) and VR (virtual reality).

If you’ve ever put on a Meta Quest or Oculus headset, you’ve experienced VR. Virtual reality entertainment typically involves a 3D environment that can be interacted with and is one of the most recognizable genres.

AR is usually less intensive than VR and integrates the real world into its model with a few added features. This is where the “augmented” part comes from. While VR typically needs an accompanying headset to experience a simulated world, AR games are often played on mobile. The best example of this is the ever-popular Pokemon Go. When catching Pokémon, you see your real-world surroundings through your phone camera, but extra things pop up, such as the loveable Pokémon you’re trying to catch.

Then there are ARGs. While it’s hard to provide a concrete, generalized definition, ARGs have a few shared features.

ARGs mostly take the form of websites set up as puzzles or scavenger hunts. A user finds the site, then uncovers clues and Easter eggs along the way. This can include elements such as hidden text, randomly capitalized words, and more. This puzzle-solving is highly intertwined with the narrative, and there is usually something sinister lurking beneath a normal or bright-looking surface.

The biggest aspect that sets ARGs apart, however, is the use of the audience. While they certainly hide clues and require some thinking, ARGs are also dependent on user interaction.

Welcome Home

Welcome Home is a relatively new ARG created by Clown Illustrations. The website itself (within its own fictional world) claims to be documenting a forgotten children’s TV show, “Welcome Home.” The makers of the website are dedicated to archiving any kind of proof they can find that this show existed. It features a cast of characters, such as the main character, Wally Darling, Frank Frankly, Barnaby the Dog, and more!

Diving deeper, however, uncovers the real mystery. When exploring the website, users stumble across hidden messages such as secretly clickable icons that lead to recordings of the TV show itself, albeit only from one unknown person’s perspective. Later additions to the website revealed something sinister about the whole operation to uncover more about the Welcome Home TV show.

Overall, this is a wonderful ARG to start with. With bright colors and even more colorful characters, this (fictional) show is reminiscent of a cross between Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. All the artwork is done by one person, Clown Illustrations, so even if you find the mystery hard to follow, you’ll enjoy all the drawings. If you’re looking to explore the genre but want something a little more colorful, Welcome Home is a great place to start.

Happy Meat Farms

Happy Meat Farms is another fantastic ARG. As opposed to Welcome Home, which takes place exclusively on the associated website, Happy Meat Farms also has content on YouTube. The overall premise is that the website presents Happy Meat Farms as a cruelty-free and humane meat production company. 

However, as most ARGs tend to do, there is something sinister lurking behind the happy exterior. A YouTube channel by the name of “This place is not happy” uploads occasional videos that expose the company for what it is: a sinister facility that does experiments not only on livestock but on unruly employees as well. As seen by finding the password for the employee login as well as analyzing the YouTube videos, users eventually discover that the entire facility is used to feed a mysterious entity by the name of Mother. This ARG has a lot of layers to it, especially with the addition of YouTube videos, which tie into other clues for the actual website.


These are just a few ARGs out there. As video games continue to evolve, more and more games will reach beyond the parameters of traditional gaming.

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About the Contributor
Allie Metzger
Allie Metzger, Assistant Technology Editor
Allie Metzger is the Assistant Technology Editor for the Mace & Crown.

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