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Alternate Reality Games That Will Blow Your Mind

Alternate reality games are a great example of the ways in which culture has embraced the Internet of Things, or the integration of the digital world with the physical one around us. ARGs are designed to challenge a player's view on reality, often sending him or her on extensive scavenger hunts to uncover a mystery, the goal being to fully immerse and engage in the real world as well as in the digital sphere. Once you've secured your finances when you get paid for taking online surveys, it's possible to enjoy mind-blowing alternative reality games like these to change the way you see the world.

The Jejune Institute
This ARG, which was recently the subject of lauded documentary "The Institute" from Spencer McCall, was active in the San Francisco Bay Area for nearly three years between 2008 and 2011, and consisted of four "acts" in the game that were rolled out to a series of ravenous players. The game drew in users using only mysterious flyers advertising products like "human force fields" and something called "PoliWater," as well as poster drawing attention to the abduction of a young woman involved in the punk movement. When sharp-eyed citizens of the city began to notice the bizarre posters, which often looked part of the urban environment, they were directed to a suite in San Francisco's Financial District. From there, it got weird.

Users would be brought to a room and "inducted" into a mysterious organization called The Jejune Institute, illustrated by video content as a dangerous company that potentially kidnapped the young woman in the flyers. This kicked off a frenzy of clues that players were charged with collecting across the city. The game's creators cited their motivation as getting people to examine the world around them more carefully. The original act, which brought in more than 10,000 players over three years, was followed up with other sprawling adventures that inspired the city and brought in a lot of new tourists.

A more common use of an alternate reality game is as a marketing tool, as demonstrated by the 2004 ARG "ILoveBees.com," a cleverly disguised way to raise the hype for upcoming shooter video game, "Halo 2." After concealing hints that led to the site in a television ad for Halo, IGN reported that players pored over a seemingly simple website designed by a beekeeper that was overcome with messages from a hacker that needed to be decoded.

One clue led to another as marketing for the game ramped up, reaching its climax in a mad chase through the country  when a special player, called an "operator," received mysterious phone calls from a public booth and was burdened with sharing the next hint. The effort was one of the first major marketing ARG successes, and led to others down the line, including major projects like Batman installment "The Dark Knight" and indie horror flick "Cloverfield."

There's no doubt that the world of alternative reality games is one best enjoyed when freed from the fetters of financial concern. When you earn extra money online with paid surveys, it's far easier to become drawn in by these fascinating worlds, and perhaps even to develop one yourself.

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