"For the first time since I was very young, I felt like there was magic. I thought maybe I could be a part of it.” - from Dispatches From Elsewhere, an AMC series about the Jejune Alternate Reality Game.
The Mission is to create and empower The Looking Glass People, a group of alternate reality game (ARG) players and creators, with next generation technology to scale real world storytelling. ARGs blow minds but they are expensive, time-specific events that don’t scale. For real world stories to scale, it’s assumed you would need a different story teller for every country, every city, every park. But we have a road map to crack the code.
We launch a product in the first phase. A complete deck of augmented reality tarot cards that are a portal to an online alternate reality game that uses dynamic, non-fungible tokens (dNFTs) as game items. Currently the Beta Team is testing the first product, the Forking Paths Tarot and prototype of the game that demonstrates how real world games will work.
In phase two, the ARG moves into limited real world locations in New York, Mexico City and Istanbul. Game items, dNFTs, become functional in real life (IRL). Players evolve into creators and The Looking Glass People slowly becomes more decentralized and the group becomes an engine for online and real world content.
In the final phase, The Looking Glass People transforms into a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) monetized by the sale of products like The Forking Paths Tarot. Artificial Intelligence driven chatbots will host and troubleshoot live gameplay and help organize and inspire branching narratives.
Our ancestors were in awe of the mystery of being. They sat around the fire sharing stories that united them in a purpose greater than themselves. There was magic in the world. As their descendants, we sit on the sofa, glued to screens, alternating between doom scrolling through news feed and watching Tik Tok videos while both Orwell and Huxley roll over in their graves. Technology has made us alone together.
But together we can change this.
My name is Patrick McGreer, the first member of The Looking Glass People. I’ve been a university student and amateur actor in Canada, a drama teacher in Istanbul, an English teacher in Korea, a hostel co-owner in Panama and an alternate reality game designer in Mexico City. Above all, now and throughout my life, I’ve been a storyteller.
In 2003 the hostel I co-founded struggled to draw a crowd. Unlike hostels on the beach or in cities, our spot in the middle of the jungle was not an established destination. To become one it needed to become a story. So I wrote a novel connected to a series of real world treasure hunts and self published it.
Sometime around 2004 a backpacker in Costa Rica found a beaten up paperback called The Lost and Found. It was a story about a group of missing backpackers that leased a hostel also called The Lost and Found. But unlike any other novels, this one seemed to be a true story set in a place you could visit. With a group of friends he headed to Panama to verify what was truth and what was fiction. But he ended up going further down the rabbit hole. Some of the characters he read about were there. There was an open Interpol database to access information. And there was a reward to find the missing backpackers. He didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t, when he was a guest and when he was a player. He became part of the story.
Tens of thousands have enjoyed The Lost and Found hostel. Many of these loved the treasure hunts. But only a few put the novel, hostel and treasure hunts together, and had their minds blown by a story experience far better than the sum of its parts. But a hostel in the jungle in a far away country is limiting. The prerequisite of reading an entire novel is even more limiting.
More people deserve to have their minds blown.
We have new tools for that. The metaverse or whatever we call the next iteration of the world wide web gives us these. A lot of time and money is being spent on the hardware and code to usher in this new era. But there is little discussion about how new technology could lead to new kinds of stories. Join me and let’s be part of the next generation of storytellers.