Beginners Guide

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Brief Beginner's Guide to the Ocular Effect ARG

First of all, if your brain doesn't complain in confusion when you see the letters ARG, then you can either skip past the ARG introduction below to the brief outline of Ocular Effect, or just head on over to the full story Outline to catch up on the story so far.

Now, let's answer the burning question:

What is an ARG?

In short, an ARG is an Alternate Reality Game - a story that is told over time, through various media such as the internet, phone calls, meeting places, emails, real mail, and more. More revered ARGs also have a level of interaction with characters in the story.

An ARG is typically a 'one time only' deal. Because the story is told live over time, it can't be replicated with the same effect.

There are many forms of ARGs as well. You may have heard the term 'viral marketing' (VM) in the media. An ARG is a very complex form of viral marketing. VM can range anywhere from a vague and mysterious TV commercial that points you to a seemingly random website (playing on your curiosity), all the way to large and complex 'Beasts' of role playing games. Some examples of ARGs at the large end of the scale are

  • I Love Bees, promoting Bungie's video game Halo 2
  • The Beast, promoting the movie A.I.
  • Last Call Poker, promoting Activision's video game Gun
  • Perplex City
  • Art of the Heist

plus many more.

The whole idea of an ARG is to immerse the 'player' in an alternate reality - one that is so close to reality, or believability, that they could in theory be one and the same, except for one thing: the ARG is fictional. How do we know what's real and what's not? By following the ARG mantra and philosophy: TINAG (This Is Not A Game), first described by Elan Lee, an ARG enthusiast and creator. Click here to understand TINAG.

What's the purpose of an ARG?

This question may be answered quite differently depending on who you talk to. Typically, ARGs are intended to promote some form of product. Those who truly adore the 'art form' however, will say that an ARG is simply a way of telling a story, in an highly memorable, personal, and interactive way.

Today companies are seeing the potential of 'viral marketing' because instead of forcing their products down people's throats, they are able to hook them in by playing on the customer's curiosity (which killed the cat, BTW*), so the customer becomes connected in their own way with the product being marketed.

Many companies do take this too far however, and in attempting to brand a product within a marketing campaign, they cross the line and begin to detract from the experience of the ARG itself, essentially just becoming another typical marketing campaign, rather than connecting the product with a valuable, memorable, personal experience. In the process, they may end up making more enemies (people who want to enjoy an ARG, but can't because they're indundated with product placement) than friends. *note* While curiosity might have killed the cat, satisfaction brought him back.

For more ARG terminology and definitions, please see Definitions:ARG

(Read up on terms such as OOG, Meta, Wiki, TINAG, Trout, Puppetmaster, etc)

For a more in-depth description of the ARG genre, please visit the ARG Quick-start Guide Here are some other good starting points in the ARG world:

ARG Network - Central news hub for anything ARG-related - Home of one ARG player community discussion forums - where most 'playing' of ARGs takes place

Brief Outline of Ocular Effect

In an attempt not to duplicate what's been laid out in the Outline and Timeline, I'll describe the basic premise of the 'OE' ARG.

  • ABC Family began televising ads for an upcoming movie special called "Fallen", airing July 23, 2006. On their website's homepage for the show, there was an image of an Oculus in the bottom corner, prompting people to look through the oculus, and 'begin your journey'.
    This, along with a video posted on Youtube, prompted people to go the website
  • On arriving, they'd notice that they were directed to (mathematical minds will notice that the numbers belong to the beginning of the fibonacci sequence), where there was a flash video with concentric gears and a date and time counting down. The 0-day was July 17th, 2006 10:00pm EST.
  • Nothing could be done until July 17th, except speculate. When July 17th arrived, the countdown ended, and began to show a floating orb with symbols on it, orbited by a smaller yellow glowing orb, orbited in turn by the scripted letter V. Clicking the V opened the orb (the Oculus), leading to a small puzzle.
  • Within the oculus were three concetric rings of 7 symbols. These rings could be rotated, and when rotated so the symbols lined up, it would redirect to the website of And thus the mystery begins.

Background of Fallen

Fallen is a made for TV movie from ABC Family, telling the story of a boy named Aaron who gains mysterious powers on his 18th birthday. It deals with the spiritual realm, the existence of angels and fallen angels, and the idea of 'half-breed' angels called Nephilim.

This ARG is related in that a main character, Faith Arella is missing, and it's believed she is in the same boat as Aaron from Fallen - a fallen angel who's life will change when she comes of age.

  • Fallen's home is on ABC Family's website
  • Fallen is based on the book series (1,2,3,4) by Thomas E. Sniegoski, however it is inspired, not a direct adaptation - there are plot differences which indicate that Fallen, from ABC Family, is its own entity.

Where to go from here

To start, a great place to join in and introduce yourself to other players is in the official in-game forums. Bookmark various meta resource websites, such as this one, and the updated blog, and check back on a regular basis for updates.

Get acquainted with common terms and questions brought up within the OE ARG by reviewing this definitions page.

Beyond that, read the Outline or detailed Timeline of events to date, then go and enjoy the game! See this reference for other websites you could visit to get acquainted with the ARG.

Go to the Puzzles page to find out what people are currently working on, or trying to solve, and see if you can offer some help.

Most of all, make friends! The best thing about ARGs is the community aspect, the enjoyment of meeting like-minded people, becoming well respected, and having a part in a once in a lifetime experience, shared with many people around the world.

Be nice, behave, befriend!

Hope you have a wonderful experience, and see you in the forums :)

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