(Note: this post has many, many links to many, many Youtube videos. The videos either are or are about Youtube-based horror series, which means the videos include lots of video/audio distortion, jump scares, disturbing imagery, and so on. Be aware of that if you decide to embark on the journey I’m laying out before you. This distortion [as well as the other stuff I mentioned] is extremely present in the series based around Slenderman, as that video and audio distortion is a major component of the stories.)
So if you’re friends with me on Facebook, you know that I’m not the world’s biggest fan of horror movies. It’s honestly because I don’t like being scared. It’s not a fun feeling for me, and causes anxiety and an inability to sleep.
That said, however, there is something I find myself enjoying more and more these days, and that’s Youtube-based horror ARG’s. ARG, if you don’t know, stands for “Alternate Reality Game”. According to Wikipedia…
An alternate reality game (ARG) is an interactive networked narrative that uses the real world as a platform and uses transmedia storytelling to deliver a story that may be altered by players’ ideas or actions.
The form is defined by intense player involvement with a story that takes place in real time and evolves according to players’ responses. Subsequently, it is shaped by characters that are actively controlled by the game’s designers, as opposed to being controlled by artificial intelligence as in a computer or console video game. Players interact directly with characters in the game, solve plot-based challenges and puzzles, and collaborate as a community to analyze the story and coordinate real-life and online activities. ARGs generally use multimedia, such as telephones, email and mail but rely on the Internet as the central binding medium.
I’ve discovered every ARG I’m currently following through a YouTube channel called Night Mind, hosted by Nick Nocturn. It all started after I developed a sort of obsession with a creepy pasta character called Slenderman (side note; he would be an amazing villain for the Doctor to tackle… and no, the Silence don’t count). Googling him, I found the Night Mind video on series one of a Youtube series and ARG called Marble Hornets (here’s the complete playlist). Despite the fact that it often scared me, I watched the entire series, which led me to watching more Night Mind videos on the Slenderverse, which led me to EverymanHYBRID (here’s the complete playlist), TribeTwelve (here’s the complete playlist), DarkHarvest (here’s the complete playlist), MLAndersen (here’s the playlist), TJAProjects (here’s the complete playlist), WhisperedFaith (here’s the playlist so far; this one is still active), and Keratin Garden (here’s the playlist so far, updated as of July 1; this one is still active; it also has some deleted videos which I’ve sadly missed; also, the channel has its own playlist here). Night Mind has videos on all of these, but he highlights DarkHarvest through Keraton Garden in one video. There are a bunch of others, as well (I’ve only watched in full the ones I’ve listed here… the others on that list I’ve seen bits and pieces of, and some only have one or two videos and then just stopped). And just like that, I was hooked into this world of Youtube-based ARGs.
At the moment, aside from WhisperedFaith and Keratin Garden, I’m following three unrelated active Youtube series and ARGs. They are That Poppy, The West Records, and Spectacular Organic. I’ll give a brief overview of each, with a link to the Night Mind video on each of them.
The first, That Poppy, is an interesting one. That Poppy is the stage name of a Youtube pop star. She has two channels; one is an official music channel, and seems relatively innocent enough, at least as long as you don’t pay too much attention to her music videos. But take a look at her second vlog channel. Notice anything… odd?
She’s very robotic… almost… not human. Her videos are very strange and rather creepy.
Nick at Night Mind thinks that she may be the creation of two or more people as a means of critiquing mass-produced pop music and pop culture. The in-game story seems to include huge references to the Illuminati and then some (quick note about Nick’s video… when he starts talking about Poppy being a brainwashed drone of the Illuminati, please understand that he’s playing along with the game; I follow Nick on Twitter and he’s a skeptic, not a conspiracy theorist). The character does have a subreddit, and it’s worth following to keep updated if you’re interested (yes, I know, it’s Reddit… but this is where the info and theories and such are collected). She also has a Wikipedia page, though it’s avoiding the ARG angle for now, choosing instead to play the whole thing straight.
(I should mention here that a video on Poppy’s vlog channel, called Numbers, gave the phone number to the editor-in-chief of a video magazine that conducted an interview with the actress back when she was just dressing up as Poppy and not actually playing the part. Here’s breakdown of what happened, although the link does include the phone number and name of the editor-in-chief. The prevailing thought is that they wanted the magazine to remove the interview, and the magazine refused, leading to the editor-in-chief’s personal number being put into the video. Some, myself included, are actually hoping it’s part of the ARG and the editor-in-chief of the video magazine was in on it, meaning the number is one created for the purpose. But so far, based on the way the owner of the number is responding, and the fact that the video for Numbers recently had comments disabled, in large part because of commenters calling Poppy out on it and posting links to said interview, which you can see here, it does not look like that. Which, of course, is utter bullshit. That makes me a bit wary of this ARG, unfortunately, so while I’m still following it, I won’t be purchasing any more Poppy music [I do own the Bubblepath EP and all singles released so far, all of which I purchased before the Numbers video went up] until the issue is resolved [and whether or not I continue purchasing her music will depend on how it’s resolved]. Be aware of it.)
The next one, The West Records, is a very slow-going series. Videos only get uploaded once every few months. There’s a playlist here to help you watch it in order. This one is hard to describe; you have to watch it to really understand. Here’s the Night Mind video on it. Also, here’s the subreddit. It’s a collection of everything that’s known about the West Records so far and a theory that connects the story to HP Lovecraft, which makes me think that the ultimate monster of the series might be Cthulu, or something inspired by Cthulu… which would be awesome. But take my saying that with a grain of salt; there’s no evidence at all for that, yet.
Finally, we have Spectacular Organic. Nick at Night Mind does a brilliant job of breaking this one down, but it’s basically this… they’re a food and drink health company that wants to help you in “making a better you”. But it has some deep and rather disturbing mysteries based around it being a cult. Yet again, here’s the subreddit. Personally, I love the possibility of the series lampooning the “organic” phenomenon (which I hate with a passion) in the US, though that’s based purely on a wish of mine based only on the title… there’s nothing that says they will go that way.
These are the three active ones (along with WhisperedFaith and Keratin Garden) I’m following now. There’s also one that’s been inactive for a while, called NOC+10. Here’s the Night Mind video on it, and here’s a playlist with the videos in order. This is definitely a fascinating one. I don’t have a good understanding of code and ciphers to be able to participate and see what might have been missed, and sadly, this one does not have a subreddit or any dedicated forum I could find for it… at least so far. Maybe there’ll be more, maybe not. But it’s certainly piqued my curiosity.
Are you following any Youtube-based horror series and/or ARGs? Are you following these along with me? Let me know in the comments!
But also? If you haven’t, check out Marble Hornets. It’s absolutely incredible and very much worth watching. For me, that is how you do horror.
On a related note… I think I need to get in touch with my brother, and maybe someone who has video editing skills…?
The Modular Body: Build A Better Human
Scott John Harrison says
I started following EMH and stuff back in 2010/2011 and the only problem I have with it is that it has taken so long to actually finish. It is good to go to the unfiction forum is a good place to go to read up on everything. with older ARGs they have a slenderman specific forum there which has a thread for most of these. Marble Hornets/Clear Lakes 44 has its own subforum too.