Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Fandom and ARGs

I like to consider myself a fan of several things. The two I want to mention now are: (1) The Matrix, (2) Nine Inch Nails. Part of the reason I've been thinking about these things is that I relatively recently read 'Convergence Culture' by Henry Jenkins, which I encourage you to check out.

Ok, so I know The Matrix isn't really news. But when the first came out in 1999, I saw it many times in theatres, and have watched it many more times since. Same goes for all the other releases (well, I guess I missed the animatrix in theatres). Anyway, they're all good stuff, both as plain old entertainment as well as thought provoking works (I wish I had an ample vocabulary). What I'm trying to say is that I mostly think I'm a bigger fan than most. However, I never read the associated comic books, nor played the video games. So am I just fooling myself? Or was the scope of the project, its many facets, too large for even a supposedly loyal fan? Of course, that's a stupid thing to wonder. The people in charge were artists, using a new form (a combination of forms) to display their work. Who am I to wish they hadn't done as much? I sincerely hope that many people out there engrossed themselves more fully in the world of the matrix than I did. I hope the artist's full work was appreciated. Perhaps I'm just more a fan of being stubborn and lazy than I am of the movies (well, the whole artwork). I could have, after all, played the video games (and now that I know about them, I'd like to check out the comics) and read more of the things online... etc. etc. etc. When I think about it, I wonder what, if the matrix couldn't, would get me to play a video game to more fully engross myself in a story, or piece or art. I haven't really come up with anything, though I have been wondering about this game spore for a while. I mostly only like little video games, dr. mario, for example.

Onto item 2. I've mentioned several times my draw to nine inch nails. I own most of their 'halo's, including many of the singles. However, when their Alternate Reality Game (ARG) came out for year zero, I didn't do much about it. I remember spending a day or two looking at what was around, about messages on t-shirts and messages in Morse code in songs. I visited many of the links, reading supposed files about 'The Presence', and 'Opal'... And then I lost interest. I couldn't tell how I was supposed to participate. I don't have any real skills at all, so I don't expect I could have helped find hidden messages or anything. Plus, I'm kinda lazy (I just started reading a book 'How to be Idle', by a Hodgkinson, so perhaps you'll hear more about this in the near future), and not particularly creative (though I'm realizing that I like to create - through origami, programming, even this blog nobody reads (over-inflated self worth strikes again)). So, again, what happened? Am I not a fan enough to keep up with and immerse myself in these things? Or did this one particular game end earlier than expected? I looked at things again recently, and something said it was supposed to be an 18 month time frame for the game. So is there more to come in the next couple of months? We've got til... September/October I think. Perhaps this ghosts release is part of it all. I hope so, but my initial impression is that it is just Trent wanting to make some music (which I am, of course, happy to listen to). I'd be happy to be wrong, perhaps there are messages floating around in all of these new tracks. I should go look...

So anyway, what's the deal? Am I just too damn lazy to be allowed to consider myself a fan? Too old school and set in my ways to play with these relatively new avenues of entertainment? I mean, I don't care at all for text messages (or phones in general), and don't quite see the point of 'micro-blogging' or 'lifestreaming' sorts of sites. So am I not really keeping pace with technology these days, despite what I'd like to think? It is my impression that these ARG things are a relatively new form of media (again, see 'Convergence Culture'). In that case, perhaps whatever recipe for them hasn't quite been worked out yet? Maybe they won't even pan out as a trend? I mean, my understanding of them goes like this: a group of people sit down and try to create a puzzle for, essentially, everybody to solve. Of course, not everybody will hear about it, or care, or participate. But my point is that the intended audience is much larger than the group creating the puzzle. So... that group better be _quite_ impressive at puzzle-making in order to be able to entertain a significantly larger audience. I'm not saying it can't be done. But maybe, assuming it is a newish sort of venture, the puzzle creators could still use some more practice? Of course, I recognize that as a hugely arrogant thing to say, and must refer you back to the Matrix paragraph, about the creators being artists, who should be encouraged to make what they want.

News from wired today about a possible new ARG starting with some relation to McDonald's and the coming summer Olympics. Perhaps this'll be a big turning point for the medium? I mean, everybody has heard of both McDonald's and the Olympics, while a drastically fewer number have heard of Mr. Reznor.

No comments: