Alternate Reality Game Experts Built An Advent Calendar To Help You Understand How ARGs Work

If you've ever wanted to become one of those people who spends a dozen hours staring at EXIF data and source code for clues, now's your time.
December 5, 2016, 7:24pm

If you, like me, are fascinated by the concept of alternate reality games (ARG) but always feel they're not intellectually equipped to engage with them, there's hope. Game Detectives, a community of people responsible for cracking things like Overwatch's Sombra ARG and the sigil ARG that I've reported on at Waypoint, have built an ARG advent calendar with 25 puzzles.

To get a flavor for a recent ARG, check out my two recent stories about one in particular—the first story is here, the second story is here—which involves the mysterious appearance of symbols in a bunch of independent games. By all accounts, that ARG may be wrapping up soon.


The puzzles are built on and influenced by the same ones that the Game Detectives have been solving for years. In other words, the advent calendar serves as a great entryway into understanding ARG-style puzzles, without the pressure of looking silly in front of other people.

The first one, for example, looks like this:


If you manage to solve a puzzle, you're entered into a giveaway for a bunch of Steam games. (The whole list is here.) And if you're stuck on a puzzle, the ARG has a Discord server where people are dropping hints on where to look (and think) next. The idea is to keep solutions a secret, while sending people in the right direction. My history with the Game Detectives has been nothing but friendly and positive, so don't be afraid to ask the people there for some help.

Good luck!