Exploring the Many Worlds of Transmedia

Posts by Steve

Slender Man: The Internet Births a Monster

Slender Man: The Internet Births a Monster

By on Dec 7, 2013 in Featured |

The story of the fictional monster “Slender Man” is a familiar one for individuals who have perused the semi-underground areas of the internet over the last four years or so. Beginning as an exercise in creating authentic-looking pictures of paranormal activity on the “Something Awful” forums, Slender Man’s murky origins and initially misleadingly realistic internet presence have lead to a large, online, cult following that have simultaneously carved the monster’s mythology and questioned his actual existence. Well-received horror video games featuring the iconic Slender Man raised knowledge and popularity of the monster, but also largely ended the eerie presence of reality Slender Man possessed in his more obscure, internet-only days. Despite the aura surrounding Slender Man disappearing over the last year or so, his presence has not entirely vanished. A following, fully aware of Slender Man’s internet-based origins, still believes that the monster may actually exist in some form, a testament to the myth’s authenticity. Regardless, the rise of Slender Man as an internet icon remains an intriguing, valuable case-study of the multi-media, multi-author permeation of a monster mythos. Times have changed for “The first great myth of the web.” Just a few years back, an internet search of “Slenderman” would have led to remarkably inconclusive results. Different wiki sites and various outlets treated Slender Man as most would Bigfoot; not proven, but just look at the evidence! Various blurry images and videos claiming to feature the monster were strewn about the internet and referenced to with an air of authenticity. Even more pervasive, many of these pictures enhanced their sense of reality by placing a fictional watermark on the image such as “City of Sterling Libraries, Local Studies Collection.” Fictional media stories referencing past events such as a local fires, assumedly Slenderman’s doing, also worked at carving a uniquely realistic framework for Slender Man to operate in. Most incredibly however, various pieces of even deeper false history were strewn throughout the internet to corroborate the reality of such fictional events. One photo caption reads: “Two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day on which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as ‘The Slender Man.’ Deformities cited as film...

Read More
Why so Mysterious?: The Prevalence of the Dark ARG

Why so Mysterious?: The Prevalence of the Dark ARG

By on Dec 7, 2013 in Featured |

Dark, mysterious ARGs are everywhere. Mystery elements make sense for the genre. It’s only logical that an overtly mysterious ARG campaign incites more natural intrigue and attract more participants than most other methods. Thus we see the cryptic messages, the non-descript websites, and other various, vague clues repeatedly utilized in most ARGs, especially in their early stages in search of players. The natural rise of this trend is simple enough to understand: a good mystery is an easy way to attract people. Often accompanied with the mystery elements of ARGs however, is a thematically dark narrative that seems overly-concerned with appearing as such throughout the game’s progression. As noted in a now-dated 2007 article by Michael Andersen on the state of the genre, “‘Dark’ ARGs seem to be crawling out of the woodwork.”  Sometimes these narratives tackle legitimately dark subject matter, such as “The Human Pet”, a YouTube-censored story of kidnapping and torture, others such as the Dark Knight “Why so Serious” campaign were less serious in subject matter, but still featured dark tones and imagery. A large majority of ARGs tend to follow a dark narrative or are created around pre-existing dark material such as Bioshock’s “Something Under the Sea” campaign simply because it is the way of the genre. There are numerous examples of ARGs that forgo this cliché, but there is no doubting the prevalence of dark-themed ARGs and their status as the stereotype of the genre. The stereotype is perfectly, succinctly assumed as such: “The concept is simple: put clues and hints scattered on fan sites, ads, or anywhere really, that will lead you to more clues. Eventually you will unravel a deep, dark mysterious story.” That’s the model used time and time again. Why is this? And why are the mysteries so dark? It feels as if every ARG begins mysteriously to engage an audience, but then can’t escape that vague, somewhat dark feeling the mystery creates once players have started playing. This is not necessarily the primary issue, however. Few ARGs actually walk in to dark territory without an initial intent to do so, and some even head in an opposite direction. The pronunciation book/Bear Sterns Bravo campaign, for example, began with highly, mysterious, cryptic YouTube videos,...

Read More
css.php