Introduction: Emerging Participatory Culture Practices: Player-Created Tiers in Alternate Reality Games

This minisite is a companion to an essay published in the Feb 2008 issue (vol 14, no 1) of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. The essay, 'Emerging Participatory Culture Practices: Player-Created Tiers in Alternate Reality Games’ is in the special issue edited by Henry Jenkins and Mark Deuze on 'Convergence Cultures'. Specifically, this minisite is referenced in footnote [2] of the journal essay.

The intention of this online extension is to provide more examples of the taxonomy types referred to in the essay, to be a resource for fellow researchers and practitioners, to encourage curiosity in those considering reading the essay, and to provide some information for those that can't access the essay.

Access the Essay:

To help situate this online component, here is the abstract of the journal essay:


This paper introduces an emerging form of participatory culture, one that is not a modification or elaboration of a primary producer's content. Instead, this paper details how the artifacts created to 'play' a primary producer's content has become the primary work for massive global audiences. This phenomenon is observed in the genre of alternate reality games (ARGs) and is illustrated through a theory of 'tiering'. Tiers provide separate content to different audiences. ARG designers tier their projects, targeting different players with different content. ARG player-production then creates another tier for non-playing audiences. To explicate this point, the features that provoke player-production -- producer-tiering, ARG aesthetics and transmedia fragmentation -- are interrogated, alongside the character of the subsequent player-production. Finally, I explore the aspects of the player-created tiers that attract massive audiences, and then posit what these observations may indicate about contemporary artforms and society in general.

In summary, the essay interrogates:

  • the ways ARG designers trigger player-created gameplay resources;
  • the types of gameplay resources that are created;
  • and possible reasons for their uptake by massive audiences.

By concentrating on these elements in the essay, I was not able to provide detailed information about 'tiering' and ARG gameplay resources (nor is it appropriate in an academic essay). Therefore, this online augmentation offers that information in a general style and obviously not what is the journal.

  1. The first section introduces 'tiering' and tiering levels;
  2. The second section explains types of tiering in ARGs;
  3. The third section outlines a taxonomy of ARG GamePlay Resources and provides examples of sources;
  4. The fourth section continues giving examples of ARG GamePlay Resources, specifically the types of resources;
  5. The fifth section more ARG GamePlay Resources, but this time looking at their degrees of fictionality;
  6. The sixth section briefly looks at the implications of the points in the essay;
  7. The final section contains the bibliography for this online augmentation.

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