Augmentology"...is a concise manual of reality for our digital age."

Mark Hancock,_Augmentology: Interfaccia Tra Due Mondi_

[Sponsored by The Ars Virtua Foundation/CADRE Laboratory for New Media]

Alternate Reality Games [ARGs] are forms of entertainment that derive their structure from a mix of fictionalised world framing and real-world narrative components. Players create a required suspension of disbelief when connected to an ARGian world construct. This construct operates “…via interconnected narrative threads/cues beyond exclusive parent forms or individualised game parameters. ARGs make players step outside the restrictions of mono-genre game boundaries and narrative-seek through the use of webtrawling, email, phone/sms contact, real-time interactions and extensive online engagement to glean cues + puzzle pieces. These games work within a collusive reaction principle; that arousal, curiosity and search-behaviour will result if info-schooled gamers are offered teasing data as narrative tip offs.”.

ARGs display commonalities with Viral Marketing and Viral Media campaigns. All three forms have structural similarities that attempt to promote meaning formation. ARGs use a Gestalt system pieced together through pervasive content. Successful ARG navigation requires the employment of Active Narrative Gathering [ANG]. ANG involves genre amalgamation, prosumerism, and attentional layering. The Social Networking software _Twitter_ is a contemporary example of one variation of prosumerism in action. Twitterers micro-blog via text snippets [tweets] of 140 characters in length. Users can respond in the public communication stream/timeline, direct message others, or restrict their tweets from general view.

Twitter users create and absorb in concentrated attentional narratives. These tweetstreams blend observations and user-regurgitated facts. Content occurs with attentional “tasting” as users choose to collaboratively incorporate snippets into their streams. Alternatively, they can express introspective or otherwise nuanced updates without accounting for replies or additional user interactions. These integrative comprehension streams represent Synthaptic units – a synthetic network measurement that gauges attentional consciousness.

Prosumerism, like successful ARG navigation, is not passive but active in intent. Synthetics embody the attentional as an extension of a fiction/non-fiction meltdown within streams of ego-consciousness. Should notions of pop culture be replaced by a corresponding attentional conception of entertainment?