I know what most people will say: Must Love Robots isn't an ARG. There are no puzzles! There's isn't any mystery to solve! What are we supposed to do?
For a community based around a genre that can use anything in the real world to get its message out, we are certainly narrow-minded about what exactly we're willing to play. We'll read comics on the web and newspapers, watch comedies on television and the movies, and even play video games that have a humorous intent. But a comedic ARG that doesn't have a mystery to it? Doesn't even make a blip on the radar.
And that's a damn shame, because Must Love Robots is fraking hysterical. Cardboard box robots looking for love? How can you not love that? Plus, you have the geeky roommate/sidekick and the cute girl from next door. It could almost be a sitcom on tv except it's not as dumb as say According to Jim so it probably wouldn't do well on American TV. Holy shit! I just found out that According to Jim has been cancelled! Maybe this game can actually succeed after all!
But this is an ARG. It has all the classic elements: Storyline (get 011iver a date, What is Lugnut doing?), Interaction (twitter, emails, phone numbers and live events), Puzzles (What is 011iver yelling in that video?! Why all the passwords on MBILF? ), Multiple websites. It even has Authorship, Ruleset, and Coherence for you Chaotic Fiction peeps. The only thing it lacks is the whole Mystery wrapping that everyone seems to cling to like a life vest in the middle of the ocean. Why should we care about some stupid glyphs on a website when there is a real life fake robot who needs our help to get a date? Why can't we start rewarding games with actual substance rather than fawning over ones that gives us crumbs and insult our intelligence?
I've started a Guide for this game, because it's what I do best after all: http://www.wonderweasels.org/mustloverobots/guide.html. For those of you who haven't read one of my guide's before, in order to keep the page uncluttered, I hide a lot of things (like transcriptions or puzzle solves) behind hidden boxes. When you see this symbol: § it means that there is additional text available. Just click on it and the text should drop down below.
Congratulations! You decided to dig a tiny bit deeper on your own without having a ROT13 email tell you to! So now you can learn that there is more to this ARG than just the videos that 011ie and Tim put out.
Shocking, I know, but there is a whole story line underneath the visible story - where a robot from RobotFriendFinder was deleted because he found out that RobotFriendFinder, MBILF and GodHatesRobots were all connected, and the quest to get to the bottom of the mystery. But most people don't know about this story because they haven't looked. They just see a webseries and dismiss it as such.
That's rather disappointing if you ask me. But then again, what should I be expecting from people who seem to enjoy games made by PMs in just 10 days while they're playing other games at the same time. I keep waiting for (vocal) players to demand storyline and internal logic in the games that they play, but instead it's all about how cool those encrypted twitter messages are and how awesome it is that websites automagically update when you do things - even if that automagically bit means you have to wait for the PM to type out and upload a new response.
Am I bitter? Hell yeah I am. I keep seeing games continuously imploded but people still don't seem to care. "Let us know when your next game starts. I'm sure it will be awesome!" How many times do people have to get stepped on before they start to see what's really happening. I'm reminded a bit of an Law & Order episode I watched the other night. It revolved around a group of kids who were in a second chance program where the director would constantly promise the kids things, but never delivered on them. Yet the kids stood by him, because those promises "could still happen". Of course, these kids probably never had the opportunity to join a program where promises were actually kept. They stayed because it was the only source of hope that they had. If they knew of better programs where their hopes and dreams could actually come true, why wouldn't they take that?
It's what confuses me so much about ARG players today. There are more than enough games out there (both corporate and grassroots) that deliver a quality experience, in terms of storyline and puzzles and interaction, but you still see players (both old and new) continuing to grasp onto these games that only seem to serve as ego trips for the PMs who put them on. Is it because they don't see the truly beautiful games that are out there? Or, maybe they do, and that's what scares them. Because if you experience one of those transcendental games, one of those games that everyone talks about how amazing it was for years to come, if you experience that maybe you'll find that nothing else ever compares and you end up losing all your joy for all ARGs in the future.
There is a saying amongst ARG players that "Your first is your favorite." I know it's certainly not the case for me. Art of the Heist wasn't even close to being the first ARG that I played, but as of this writing, is still my favorite. Eldritch Errors is certainly a close second and I wouldn't be surprised if Must Love Robots ends up eclipsing one of both of them. How often do we consider the first movie or book or video game we ever played our favorite for all time? Why should ARGs be any different? Why do we become so narrow minded and afraid to move out of the comfort zone that we've established for ourselves. People keep saying that they want to break the mold in ARGs. Break the mold by getting people to expand their mind about what ARGs are - and stop thinking you're being revolutionary by trying to remake The Game because all it really is is a tired argument we've heard a million times before. Don't believe me? Go start a META thread and see how many posts you get about "Please read through the META section for all the other discussions we've had on this.
So I know that when you clicked on the squiggle that you weren't expecting some long rant about the state of ARGs. But I've come to the point where I am just sick that what I would consider absolute tripe is being lauded by others as being awesome. Now certainly I respect that there are a range of tastes that people have and that my ideas of genius are not the same as someone elses, but I would still like to think that most people could recognize pure talent when they see it. Or maybe not considering the fact that shows like American Idol and Jon & Kate pull in massive amounts of viewers and are constantly renewed while shows like Life, Life on Mars and The Sarah Connor Chronicles get canned. I look at examples like that and wonder if I've just become so out of touch with what passes as good entertainment anymore. But if that's the case, I think I'd rather just sit and watch paint dry all day. At least that would give me enough time to contemplate the really amazing things I've seen but no longer get to experience.
And if all of that wasn't enough reason for you to play this game, Must Love Robots has also gotten the strifey Seal of Approval, an exclusive award which has only been given out once before. That's just how awesome this game is. So play it!
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