97: A Murderer Has Your Email Address

"Breaking down the fourth wall can be a tricky way to tell a story, however, as developers have to maintain that delicate balance between being a welcome invader of privacy and an uninvited guest. Players provide email addresses and cell phone numbers with a certain unspoken expectation of respect and consideration. We'll happily accept mysterious text messages or even a chilling email or two, just don't ring us in the middle of the night. We want to be scared, sure ... but not really."

Susan Arendt examines Evidence: The Last Ritual, a game in which you solve crimes by searching the web and getting emails - from the killer.

A Murderer Has Your Email Address

Evidence: the Last Ritual is hardly the only game of this description. Alternate reality games, or ARGs, have been around for years; there have been ARGs tied to the respective canons of Halo, the Matrix, and Spielberg's movie A.I., to name a few among many. ELTR is neither unique nor pioneering in any respect mentioned in the article. Did the author bother to perform a simple Google search, or click the first link in the Genre line of the game's Wikipedia infobox? This article should have been on alternate reality gaming in general, and by focusing so tunnel-sightedly on one game it disserviced both alternate reality gaming and the Escapist readership.

This reminded me a little bit of Uplink, although with that one, it's more the intense commitment to realism that does it.

Pavitra:
Evidence: the Last Ritual is hardly the only game of this description. Alternate reality games, or ARGs, have been around for years; there have been ARGs tied to the respective canons of Halo, the Matrix, and Spielberg's movie A.I., to name a few among many. ELTR is neither unique nor pioneering in any respect mentioned in the article. Did the author bother to perform a simple Google search, or click the first link in the Genre line of the game's Wikipedia infobox? This article should have been on alternate reality gaming in general, and by focusing so tunnel-sightedly on one game it disserviced both alternate reality gaming and the Escapist readership.

And if you had bothered to search, you'd notice we've talked about ARGs at length in the past:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/51/12
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/7/6
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/73/14

Furthermore, talking about one game in a genre (even though I wouldn't put Evidence squarely in the ARG genre) doesn't detract from the other games in the genre at all. That's like saying talking about Halo is a disservice to Tribes. Don't be silly.

Bongo Bill:

This reminded me a little bit of Uplink, although with that one, it's more the intense commitment to realism that does it.

It's a similar vibe, yeah. But Evidence is actually a bit more visceral. The emails you receive aren't within the game itself, but your actual email account. When I first closed the game, I checked my gmail account and read two emails, one from a serial killer and one from a "team member." Then I ran around the office and told everyone about it.

I've never heard about this game, nor this genre before, but it is definately intriguing. I don't know whether I would have the stomach for it though, despite knowng full well that I am in no danger whatsoever. I can't really grasp whether that is a good thing or not - maybe it is a good sign because I can restrain myself from becoming too attached to technology. Maybe its not such a good sign because it shows how such technology could affect me. Maybe I'm just a coward.

Nonetheless, it is interesting to see this kind of work going on - even though this sort of game will probably never see mass appeal (beyond the internet/esoteric gaming community that is), it is definately a good sign for the industry considering the difficulty both past and comtempory games have in transmitting a story-line.

I think we're due for a renaissance for this genre. Every time I hear about Evuidence or ARGs like Perplex City I'm reminded of Majestic, which, were it not for a little terror attack on NYC in 2001, would have been great fun. As ti was, after 9/11, nobody wanted to go anywhere near a game that called you in the middle of the night and sent threatening faxes. Which is a shame. There's fun to be had there. It's looking like after six or so years we're ready to go back into those waters.

 

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