I haven’t been back around these parts in quite some time, I see.

Life has been busy.

Life has also had chunks of incredible boredom, but we shall draw a veil over this time. It was an unnatural state for me — and not very interesting, besides.

I don’t often get the chance to play ARGs, anymore. Mostly because I am so busy making (video) games as of late that I don’t even have time to fold my laundry, much less crack codes and crack wise with a community. I dress from the dryer, people. I’m a woman on the edge.

I also don’t get to play ARGs because … there really aren’t that many around, anymore. At least, there aren’t any games that, as Sean Stewart likes to put it, ask me to dance. I stop by Unfiction’s forums when I can, but even with all the activity in the News and Rumors section, I don’t see much that’s new, much that’s been broken out into a meaty, mystery-filled subforum filled with enthusiastic threads and fresh content. I see puzzle trails. I see meandering indie efforts.

It’s strange.

The last real experience I spent any great amount of time on was for A Map of the Floating City, an ARG-like web game that concluded late last summer.

For the most part, I truly enjoyed many aspects of the game, and thought that several elements were innovative, engaging, and immersive. But a year ago, I was also feeling a great deal of conflict within my own heart about this genre and all of its offshoots. My decision to play was reluctant, fueled only by my affection for Thomas Dolby’s music and a gentle nudge from his tour manager, who happens to be an old skool online journaler from back in the day before blogs and tumblrs and flickrs and all that jazz. Personally, I was still coming to terms with the grief of the past couple years – losing my Dad, losing my dream job. I wanted this game to heal some of that for me. ARGs had been life-affirming for me in the past, after all, and I craved that community feeling once more.

Unfortunately, the team-based scoring competition drove a rather jingoistic wedge through most of the community, and my own little Southern tribe was abandoned by its appointed in-game moderator for unknown reasons. And although The Delta had two major story characters on its roster, they were both effectively prevented from assisting us because of the plot.

And while I’ve truly enjoyed heading up to D.C. (twice now) for Dolby concerts and to meet my tribespeople, I have worried that this frustrating experience was going to be it for a while. Judging by my profile creation at the Floating City website, we’re coming up on the game’s one year anniversary. I haven’t found anything like it since.

However, I find that I haven’t given up on a) wanting to play more of these damned things, and b) eventually making experiences like this, again. I love video games, and I love where I work, but I am a storyteller, and I want to be a writer again.

I don’t know what that means for me, but that’s where I’m at.