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 Forum index » Meta » General META Discussion
Martin Aggett is a Liar
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RemixFiction
Account Disabled

Joined: 08 Jan 2009
Posts: 39

Martin Aggett is a Liar

Martin Aggett 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 (RemixFiction) 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
_________________
Playing: Nothing right now...
Played: Ruby's Bequest & Tyler Greek
Gave up on: E.P.S.

Administrator's Note: This account was fictional and has been disabled due to a violation of the Terms of Service


PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:15 pm
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faeryqueen21
Unfictologist


Joined: 25 Sep 2007
Posts: 1348
Location: Pasadena, CA

What a crazy world we live in with this new thing called the "Internet." Only there can you randomly find out a friend is fake (and not in a "Mean Girls" kind of way). Honestly, my initial reaction was "WTF??!!" It made me a little angry and I felt toyed with. Next, I felt disappointed. Like I had just lost a friend. And then, in the end, resignation coupled with a shoulder shrug. It's the nature of the game and I have enjoyed being "friends" with you and that doesn't change even if you're not "real"
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:38 pm
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TAPshooter
Boot

Joined: 16 Jun 2009
Posts: 29

contact info

If anyone wants to talk to me in IM my Yahoo ID is TAPshooter

PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:55 pm
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notgordian
Unfictologist


Joined: 23 Nov 2006
Posts: 1383
Location: Philly

I'm not happy he did it, but I'm glad he came out and owned up to it before he was found out.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:18 am
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Agent Lex
Entrenched


Joined: 11 May 2006
Posts: 1188
Location: No longer London, still in England

notgordian wrote:
I'm not happy he did it, but I'm glad he came out and owned up to it before he was found out.

QFT.

It might not have been the right thing to do, but at least the PM has learned.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 7:19 am
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imbriModerator
Entrenched


Joined: 21 Sep 2002
Posts: 1182
Location: wonderland

Personally, I have forgiven Steve. He approached me personally with this as Martin & I had spoken on several occasions - Martin even helped out on ARGdb. Heck, I love anyone that does that! Plus, as just about anyone with any remote knowledge of unfiction and the people here knows, I love me the meta. And this situation has led to a lot of questions that I really enjoy asking; I've been on a sort of high ever since he told me. But! (there's always one of those) that does not mean that I approve of what he did and, certainly, do not approve of what he did to ARGN.

I've been making comparisons to PixelVixen707 of Personal Effects: Dart Art lately. First it was in comparing her blog to the Blood Copy blog for True Blood and, now, it is to this situation. The reason why, I think, she has been successful in overcoming the initial upset reactions by the gaming blog community is that she adds value to that community. Her thoughts on games is relevant to them and extends the conversation. That is what Martin did for me - he was relevant and he extended the conversation. He was value-add.

However, with ARGN, he was anything but. Oh, sure, the content of his article was good and, seemingly, sound. But it comes at a much greater price: ARGN's reputation and respectability. For someone to claim, as Steve/Martin does, that his goal and desire is only to help the community, that is a really shitty way to go about it. And, though it seems as though many in the community have forgiven him, I certainly hope that this is not setting a precedent or that he is held up as an example.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:34 pm
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Rogi Ocnorb
I Have 100 Cats and Smell of Wee


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 4263
Location: Where the cheese is free.

Heh. Now I have to assign a level of trust to future articles on the previously sacrosanct, ARGN.

Thanks man.

Much more of this kind of thing and I might as well just do my game playing on Digg.

Will you be following-up on other commitments you made while developing this persona? Or will those you were collaborating with be left in the lurch?
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 12:35 am
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Nighthawk
I Have 100 Cats and Smell of Wee


Joined: 14 Jul 2007
Posts: 4751
Location: Miami, Florida, USA, Earth

Not going to repeat myself here, but here's my commentary:

http://www.brainclouds.net/Darklight/20090617/Fictional-Reality.aspx

I know Star Spider blogged about it as well; don't have a link to that handy.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 3:55 pm
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addlepated
Unfictologist


Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Posts: 1885
Location: Austin, Texas

I think there are plenty of games out there where there is plenty of character development. Look at Must Love Robots as a current example. I'm glad you've come to your realizations, but sorry some people were deceived along the way. I do wish you the best of luck with your games! Smile
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:52 pm
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TAPshooter
Boot

Joined: 16 Jun 2009
Posts: 29

Fictional Commitments

Rogi Ocnorb wrote:
Will you be following-up on other commitments you made while developing this persona? Or will those you were collaborating with be left in the lurch?


To provide some context for Rogi's question: Martin has befriended a member of this community and was invited to join a small team of indie game developers on a project. Martin has been collaborating on this project and making commitments to be a productive member of this team. Specifically, he has offered to be the team photographer and play a small character role in a future game.

Martin I have already reiterated my commitment to follow through with my contribution to the development of the currently planned game. He I have also given the team members the choice of either acknowledging my participation or making me a silent partner who would never receive credit for my work.

Because of circumstances out of my control, I have not been able to communicate with the "Lead Designer" (the person who introduced me to the group) to offer an apology. I believe that ultimately the group has decided to leave the decision of whether or not to allow Martin to continue to be a member of the team to the "Lead Designer". As soon as the team makes a decision on this issue I will edit this post and add more information.

One of the issues this raises is - can a fictional character be trusted to provide an honest effort and be a contributing member of a team or community?

*edited to make it clear that I don't intend for the Martin Aggett character to contribute to the ARG community either as a member of a game design team or through any other venue or ARG news site

*ETA I was able to reach the lead designer today who said he/she was not angry, and I assume wants me to continue to work on the development team and allow me to fulfill my obligations.

PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 5:54 pm
Last edited by TAPshooter on Fri Jun 19, 2009 4:17 pm; edited 4 times in total
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ndemeterModerator
Entrenched


Joined: 28 Jul 2004
Posts: 1037
Location: Sunny California!

Re: Fictional Commitments

TAPshooter wrote:
One of the issues this raises is - can a fictional character be trusted to provide an honest effort and be a contributing member of a team or community?


Emphasis added.

No. Not at all.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 18, 2009 7:26 pm
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jamesi
Sentient Being


Joined: 25 Sep 2002
Posts: 2195
Location: Canadia

I'm not so much worried about the fictional character being trusted. I'd be more worried about the person that created the fictional character in the first place.

You know, the person that made an attempt (successful, depending on how you define success) to trick others into thinking their fictional character wasn't fictional at all.

Oh yeah, don't forget how that "real guy" cared so little about the credibility of a volunteer-staffed web site that he went ahead and submitted two (yes, two) articles for publication, both under the name of a fictional character to be featured in an upcoming alternate reality game. That guy clearly has no idea what sort of 'conflict of interest' he forced upon the owner of the web site.

I'd be careful in dealing with that person, he seems a bit shifty. Good luck with your game development, Rogi.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:04 am
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Rogi Ocnorb
I Have 100 Cats and Smell of Wee


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 4263
Location: Where the cheese is free.

Heh. Not my game. I was just asked to do some heavy-lifting on a trailhead puzzle and am only out a dozen or so hours if things don't work out. I was more worried about what it might mean for the main group of developers.
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I'm telling you now, so you can't say, "Oh, I didn't know...Nobody told me!"


PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:28 am
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I'm A Talking Dog
Guest


Rules and Philosophy

The rules of the place are the contract for engagement. This is against what UF set up; so without needing to dig into the bigger morality, Martin Aggett was wrong.

UF is a funny place though. It's for talking about fiction-games but also for the playing of fiction-games, a blurred space therefore for a medium that delights in the thrill of blurring lines. Give a little slack, huh?

And it's not that he's fictional per se that's a problem even in the real-world relationships struck up. Rather that he's fictional for the purposes of a future fiction-game.

P.S.
I Am A Talking Dog who really needs your help. I've got amnesia, I'm trapped in a cornfield in a basement, and only got a set of car-keys with this peculiar symbol see.

PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:49 am
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catherwood
I Have 100 Cats and Smell of Wee

Joined: 25 Sep 2002
Posts: 4101
Location: Silicon Valley, CA

Re: Rules and Philosophy

I'm A Talking Dog wrote:
... but also for the playing of fiction-games,...

I disagree, I always have and always will. We don't have threads here for Mafia games or "the ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny" or RPG build-a-story threads like I see on other game forums. We do play a bit in our forums, but we don't build a fictional environment here; we do not immerse within fiction-games on unfiction.

PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:31 am
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