There-- I've said it. That's my primary stake in designing and researching ARGs.
(What is bionic software, you ask? Here you go.)
As you know, I am most passionate about the physical, reality-based gameplay that occurs during ARGs and other genres, like urban superhero gaming and big public games. This is not because I think digital games or virtual worlds aren't real or physical enough. Rather, it's because I think: 1) digital gameplay and virtual world building offer engagement models that we desperately need in real life and 2) physical systems (our bodies) offer software and digital systems important tools and capabilities.
Regarding #2: I don't mean to de-emphasize the very real pleasures of story, interpretation, collaborative challenges, and interactive drama that are at the center of most ARG players' experiences with such games, or to tur the absolutely electrifying art practice of puppet mastering into a seriously goal-oriented agenda. ARGs are still amazing entertainment experiences and art works. But there are lots of ways to create pleasure and many media forms in which to make art-- why ARGs? For me, I believe the pleasures of ARGs feedback into a bionic software loop that ulimately is going to create very powerful benevolent systems of embodied collective intelligence and coordinated problem solving and massively multiplayer social action. I cannot get away from the social experiment aspect of ARGs.
Regarding #1: My other primary stake, as many of you already know or suspect, is an existential one-- games as a palliative intervention of orientation, meaning, purpose, feedback and social engagement into people's real-world lives. I can't help it-- that's just the way I see things. In other words: What would Sisyphus do? I think he would turn rolling that rock up and down the hill into a game.
I just wanted to post this because I've been getting a lot of questions lately about what I do and why I do it... and ultimately, it's the stakes of ARGs as powerful systems--moreso than their aesthetics or technical aspects--that I want to focus on.