is the protagonist in an independent Alternate Reality Game scheduled to launch later this year. The character will be the modern day guide for players as he tells his autobiography through multiple media. Martin Aggett is a complete work of fiction, but I imagine many of you suspected that already. So, why did I feel compelled to confess this fact to the community? Well, that's a little longer story, but if you're willing to indulge me I'll share my original motivations, how things went horribly wrong, and how I intend to make amends.
Too many ARG characters exist solely as a mechanism to deliver puzzles to the players, and in this genre of storytelling it's difficult to create characters with any amount of depth or complexity. Once an ARG launches, the story progresses at such a quick pace that good character development becomes problematic. I decided that the best way to create depth for my main character was to build an online persona to contribute to communities that matched his interests. For example, because Martin is a photographer and a technophile (that's someone who enthusiastically adopts new technology not someone who dates robots
) I started by having him contribute to the iphoneography
blog. Since Martin would be narrating his own Alternate Reality Autobiography it only made sense that he would join the ARG community. That was my first big mistake.
The Unfiction Forums are Out of Game - No Exceptions.
When I first created my account at the unfiction unforums
) I had no intention of tying that username to the Martin Aggett character. However, I wanted to play some ARGs as Martin and made the poor decision to break the site's terms of service
and played the Eruditio Private School
, Stop the International
, Ruby's Bequest
(sorry Lauren), and Tyler Greek
games as Martin. Even throughout the Sandbox
discussion and I'm Sorry
incident I rationalized my actions because I was trying to make a sincere contribution through the Martin Aggett character and not trying to confuse or harm members of the community. After some soul searching I've come to the conclusion that even though I meant no harm I should have had more consideration and respect for the owners and admins of Unfiction.
Playing games and discussing them with other players at Unfiction was a great way for Martin to introduce himself to the community. Through Martin, I was getting to know people online and making some great interpersonal connections. At first, I considered instant message chats and other communication with members of the community as in-depth character interaction. I naively thought that after it was revealed that Martin was fictional that people would be happy that they spent so much time getting to know him. After all, players love one-on-one character interaction right? What I didn't realize is that it can only be considered character interaction if the player is aware they are participating in a work of fiction. If the player is unaware of that fact then it's just deception on the part of the game creator tantamount to perpetrating a hoax. I've come to realize (thanks to guidance from experienced game creators and players like Carie Ward, Brooke Thompson, Christy Dena, Dee Cook, Jan Libby, Sean Stacey, Michelle Senderhauf, and Jonathan Waite) that these types of ARG-hoax tactics are poisonous to the community and detrimental to the progression of ARGs as a legitimate form of storytelling.
Martin is Becoming Real
Now I had a big problem. Martin was making more friends and I had to maintain the illusion that he was a real person. Creating a unique online fictional life for a character is time consuming, and development for my actual game has suffered as a result. It was as if I had launched the game when all I really wanted to do was quietly create some of the backstory. Then I made yet another horrendous mistake ? I decided to borrow elements from my own life to help fill out Martin's online life. At first, this made a lot of sense. When I traveled, Martin would get a photography assignment to the same place. When I went to a museum, to a movie, or out on a date I used those experiences to add depth to Martin's character. The unforeseen problem with that strategy was that I was starting to build enduring relationships with people as Martin Aggett. Those friendships are now in jeopardy because they were built on a foundation of lies. So in an attempt to sever my personality from Martin's the following is a complete list of "lies" I've told:
- Martin is a professional photographer - I am a successful freelance photographer who has had work published in magazines and have done some stock work, but photography is not my primary source of income.
- Martin lives in Seattle - I live in the midwest.
- Martin was orphaned at age five and lived in foster homes his entire childhood - I have a very supportive and loving family.
- Martin began his career as a newspaper photographer - I contributed to my high school and college newspapers but that's the extent of my newspaper experience.
- Martin's birthday is June 3rd - my birthday is in November
- Everywhere that Martin has claimed to have traveled are places I've visited.
- All of Martin's opinions on alternate reality games are actually my own.
- I'm a little bit country and Martin is a little bit rock and roll.
Everything else Martin has told people through the various social media and online communication tools should be the truth about me. If you have become friends with Martin and want further clarification I'd encourage you to contact me through him and I'd be happy to answer any questions. At this point I will understand if you decide to unfollow/unfriend Martin and not talk to me again.
What happens now?
I will continue to develop my game and maintain Martin's social media accounts, but the tone of the content there will change. I will no longer attempt to initiate contact with members of the community as Martin. If you wish to continue your relationship with this fictional character you can now do so on your own terms. If you would like to continue/begin an honest relationship with the person who created Martin Aggett, let me know through Martin and he will point you in the right direction. I will be attending ARGFest as myself instead of as Martin Aggett like I originally planned. I just can't bring myself to continue to deceive the people with whom I want to build honest relationships.
So, with that, I'd like to ask for the collective forgiveness of the community. I know that many of you will feel betrayed or foolish for believing Martin was real, and I apologize. I hope if you feel that way that you please give me to opportunity to apologize personally. I regret that I allowed this to continue for as long as it did and hope that this confession helps me make a fresh start. I sincerely want to contribute to the success of this exciting new genre by creating an immersive game and writing on the meta level at ARGN.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. My name is Steve
Posted by SpaceBass
Posted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 9:15 pm