The Puppetmaster-Player Communication Dynamic in Alternate Reality Gaming and Chaotic Fiction

Communication Cloud
Communication Cloud

Metaconversation happens via a kind of Communication Cloud, or, the realm of influence the Audience and Architect Spheres have on each other and on the experience. As more energy is available in higher tiers on either side, better communication can happen within the framework of the system. For it to function well, each Sphere must adapt to the other and to the metaconversation itself. This only works if both sides are paying attention. That each sphere actively adapts to the situations occurring within the Communication Cloud is the basis for my assertion that both the Audience and the Architects are Gaming: Each group is gaming the system itself in order to keep the fires of creation stoked and to achieve their desired goals.

When optimal metacommunication happens, it epitomizes Chaotic Play and its magic, which brings us to the Curtain. It is a strange construct with no perfect analogue in reality. If it existed in the physical realm, one could walk around to the other side and continue on around to return to one's starting point, yet never be able to see behind it. Behind it, inside it – that is where the fiction reaction happens and, as described above, it is the totality of possibilities encompassed by the experience, all existing at once. It contains uncertainty, it is the alternate reality, and when it is excited in the right way – when the ideation engine is firing on all infinite cylinders and vented properly – it can produce the unexpected.

In the absence of a campaign, there is nothing inside the Curtain. When a metaconversation begins and the Architects produce and the Audience joins, the Curtain splits, hollows itself, fills up, and expands as more energy is added. The more the reaction is fed by each side while maintaining the balance that prevents it from burning out too early or not burning fast enough, the more the bubble of possibility expands and the more benefit it may produce. The best bits may either be chosen for venting and inclusion by the Puppetmasters, or they may be pressure blasted out of the sides and into existence by the sheer force of their awesomeness or the overwhelming energy devoted to them by the Audience.

Those excellent bits that are produced by the fiction reactor may recursively feed energy back into the Audience Sphere at all tiers, directly or indirectly. Out-of-game resources may catalog possibilities that have been fixed or semi-fixed into "known" status through the process. Discussion may be encouraged by new rounds of speculation and Awareness may be increased, drawing from the Potential Sphere. But now I'm starting to get into describing the Player Community dynamic, which is too complex for this discussion and must wait for another time.

Upon completion of such an experience, as the reaction finishes, the bubble of the Curtain collapses and the possibilities become truly fixed in the History of the piece, which may then be referred to as Chaotic Fiction.

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