You’ve probably come across the letters “AR” when reading about video games. While this acronym is most commonly used for Augmented Reality games, you may encounter some people that use it to refer to Alternate Reality games, and we know it can get confusing.
And while both terms may share a few similarities, the truth is that they’re pretty different. Here’s what you need to know.
What Are Alternate Reality Games?
Alternate reality games, also known as alternative reality games or ARGs for short, are interactive games that use real-world elements to create and shape the story or the game itself.
One of the biggest characteristics is that ARGs try to immerse players into the game by using real-world scenarios or certain elements to make it feel more real. For example, an alternate reality game might instruct you to visit a real-life place to find your next clue or solve a puzzle.
What’s great about ARGs is that they aren’t necessarily video games. Instead, you can find them on various media types, including TV shows.
What Are Augmented Reality Games?
An augmented reality game, also known as an AR game, is a type of video game that tries to bring the game into the real world. You can see and interact with characters or objects that appear in the real world, usually with the help of equipment like a camera or a headset.
Nowadays, thanks to technology and your smartphone’s camera, there are many ways you can play the best-augmented reality games on your Android or iPhone. You don’t need a high-end phone either, as many AR games work perfectly with budget devices.
Alternate Reality Games vs. Augmented Reality Games: What’s the Difference?
At first glance, both terms might seem one and the same. And while they might share some similarities, ARGs and AR games are pretty different.
For starters, as you already noticed, the acronyms are different. Most people use “AR” to refer to augmented reality and “ARG” to refer to an alternate reality game, albeit it’s possible that some people also use “ARG” for augmented reality games.
The differences don’t stop there. A big difference is that alternate reality games don’t need to be video games at all. Since ARGs only need to combine the game with real-life environments, we’ve seen many YouTube videos, TV shows, and other types of media bring games, puzzles, and treasure hunts into the real world. All that without using a console or device, although you will probably need an internet connection.
And while you can say you can make use of augmented reality without relying only on video games, and there are many cool applications for AR technology in your everyday life, that's not the same.
Because of this, you’re more likely going to be moving a lot and doing a lot of research online to keep playing the alternate reality game. Some games are so massive that they expect you to join communities online to figure the puzzle out since there might even be hidden clues in many places around the world.
On the other hand, augmented reality games need some type of equipment to bring the game into the real world. You don’t necessarily need to play with others to enjoy the game, but you will need at least a smartphone and an internet connection.
And while most ARGs are often mysteries or puzzles, AR games can be action or puzzle games that you solve by tapping on your smartphone.
That’s not to say AR games and ARGs don’t share similarities, as both types of games try to use the real world as a way to immerse the player into the experience.
Take the famous game Pokemon Go, for instance. You could make an argument that this game shares qualities that both augmented reality and alternate reality games have.
You get to travel the real world around you to find these cool little creatures you can’t discover at home. And when you want to capture them, you can use the camera on your smartphone to see the Pokemon in the real world. You can even take pictures with them and make it look like they're interacting with real-life places.
ARG vs. AR Games
While it’s true that ARGs and AR games share some similarities, and you can even confuse them, there are many differences between these two types of games to learn how to tell them apart. Certainly, it’s not as hard as figuring out the difference between FPS (frames per second) and FPS (first-person shooter).https://www.makeuseof.com/alternate-reality-augmented-reality-games-differences/