I tried to participate in LOST’s “Octagon Global Recruiting” ARG. Really, I did.
In fact, I was so excited about it in the beginning, I posted about it here. Apparently, a lot of folks were really excited about it in the beginning, because that relatively off-topic post is still one of my most popular posts on this blog, according to my analytics package.
Unfortunately, after good initial buzz, the game failed to deliver the goods. It couldn’t keep me interested, and I’m arguably invested enough in the “LOST universe” to find Jorge Garcia’s tomato planters at least marginally interesting. Sadly, watching Hurley’s tomatoes grow provided more action than Hoodlum’s ARG did for most of the summer.
Lack of a clear (if any) storyline, slow updates, and technical problems keeping the DharmaWantsYou site up have lead to a lackluster experience.
The beauty of an Alternate Reality Game format is the immersive experience, complex storytelling, and community-participation aspects. As far as I can tell, DharmaWantsYou failed on all counts, delivering essentially a set of Flash-based games with only a tenuous connection to the show’s mythology, bookended on the front by some live-action hijinks at ComicCon that built a level of buzz that the game itself didn’t deliver on.
Truthfully, I think next season’s hiatus, the marketing machine behind LOST would be better off turning to the fan community to create an ARG. With a rabid and extremely creative fan base, most of whom are entirely comfortable playing with the tools of social media, the results could be extraordinary.