Digital Gaming

ARGH: When ARGs go awry , the EA Singapore Story

I suppose most of us have heard of Alternate Reality Games, or ARGs for short. I think part of the point behind doing one is to not declare that you’re doing an ARG outright, but that’s what EA Singapore did on their Facebook page. The story hasn’t finished unfolding, but it just smacks of, well, rotten planning.

It starts out with a post saying that Medal of Honor (MoH) has been banned in Singapore. A little sad, surely, and bound to get tons of trigger happy gun-toting kids angry, but such things are known to happen. This post has since been removed (from what I can see), and in its stead we have what’s quoted below.

We are the Authority for Responsible Gaming (ARG). We’ve taken control of this page in our cause to protect our youths from being polluted by video games of such nature. Let’s make the world a better, safer place for them. Join us in our fight against Medal of Honor at http://arg-singapore.weebly.com/

Sounds scary! A militant anti-violence group! It generated a good 110 comments… and there’re too many to read through, so we bring you highlights!

“so i guess we should all just play super mario and tetris for the next millenium of our lives. perfect, what a perfect world. i hope EA sues your ass, im ashamed to be Singaporean now”
“I hope EA sues you guys. I’m pretty sure cyber-crime to stop cyber-gaming will not be tolerated in SG”
“Arse Retired Girlies…”
“this is rubbish and ridiculous, instead of collaborating with gamers and understanding the root of the problem, holding seminars and etc. instead, “Professors whom majority don’t even play games themselves and i doubt they can even keep up with what the present games industry are doing that is why all they know is to gather a few adults to restrict the companies, i will never never support such an authority, you wanna gain control, go somewhere else, SG is not the place.”

Quite a few verbose, well thought out arguments about how playing Mario is violent too (mushrooms are our friends), or about how to best sue them back. Looks like EA had better get their account back and set things right!

3.5 hours later, EA reclaims their account and responds:

Hey guys, this is the Real EA Singapore we’ve got our facebook account back! Medal of Honor will be released on October 12, 2010 in Singapore, as planned. We apologise for any confusion caused by ARG.

We will be bringing the site back to normal soon. To coincide with the launch of MOH a Tier-1 competition will be held. Details coming soon.

Phew! Everything’s right as day. Except we get a few gems in the comments such as:

“I sure hope EA Singapore is taking legal action against the person/persons/organization that hacked the account.”
“I dont think this is the real EA,cos EA always updates their fb by iphone”
“Hey are you guys gonna take actions against those hackers??? I mean it was wrong for them to hack in the first place….”

and best of all:
“Wads ARG?sum one kindly tell me thx”

If it’d all ended here, it would be ok, MoH would be released, we can just ignore those ARG fellows – EA Singapore can, after all, delete that stray post. But obviously they won’t be doing that (ARG, hint hint.)

So now:

MOH fans, are you fit enough to be a Tier 1 operator? A living, breathing instrument of war? We need your assistance to bring down the ARG. Any clues or intelligence you unveil about them will be useful.

Tier 1s, let the hunt begin!

Hey MOH fans! Hope you have been busy hunting down the ARG for u. We had to remain silent for a bit today as we were hunting them down ourselves too. We’ve found some clues on the four IP conference pictures found on http://arg-singapore.weebly.com/.

The hunt has begun, prove to us that you have what it takes to be a Tier 1 operative, and you will be one step closer to being awarded with a limited edition medal of honor!

MOH Fans! Congratulations to those who have made it this far. This is only the beginning. The next objective has already been released at 1010hrs. This challenge might get a little rough and joining forces might be your only option. All the best Tier 1s.

I’m not sure what else to say right now. EA Singapore has definitely been able to rally the troops. There’re tons of comments which really show that some people have no idea what’s going on (EA Singapore trying an ARG), and some are just having a little fun, probably hoping to win something (or fight for their right to game), but since EA pretty much gave the game away by calling their “enemy” ARG I wonder if there’s a point to playing this anymore, other than to be a “Tier 1”. I understand the need to create some buzz around a(n already popular) game but I doubt they’ve really planned this very well, given how they’ve lazily named their enemy, or how there’s a whole thing built around a pretty non-threatening… threat. But obviously, bad planning or not things are going their way, for while there are those exclaiming “This is fake. It’s something for the MOH fan to do while waiting for the game to come out. It’s a marketing scheme like ‘I Like Bees’ from Halo.” we have more than enough people ready to apply physical force to the members of ARG. I guess I’m just disappointed – I’m a huge fan of well planned ARGs (been vaguely discussing doing one with Sarah), but this seems just lackadaisical – but what’s worse is how the general public has responded (“intelligent” would not be the word I’d use to describe the response.)

It’s not over yet, of course, so feel free to keep a watch, and even take part!

I think the ARG might not be the group who hacked the EA facebook page. I think they are also a victim of the hacker. I followed the link to their website and it seems like their website was built very long ago. More likely whoever who wanted to ban MOH hacked ARG website and made them the scape goat.

(Many thanks to Greg for bringing this to my attention!)

direcow

The technological backbone of HereBeGeeks.com, Alvin’s machinist-nature also ensures that this blog remains alive when the unpredictable Murphy’s Law comes into effect.

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2 Comments

  1. It’s just a poorly excecuted viral/guerrilla marketing plan. Over 10 years in the media biz, hate to say it but seen it all.

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