an article by the Crow.
(with an assist from the world of Pokémon.)
SPOILER LEVELS at MODERATE
Note: This is a departure from our usual content. This post contains (screenshots of) images of a disturbing nature. Please save this post for later if you are accessing it from a workplace or another public location where such content could be considered inappropriate, and proceed with caution.
YouTube is not a playground we have delved into, yet. So far, The Corvid Review has covered movies, theatre, TV shows, and the occasional videogame. However, many of us have long been fascinated with — and have participated in — Alternate Reality Games.
An all-encompassing definition for Alternate Reality Games is still debatable, but a general idea can be outlined. Alternate Reality Games (ARGs for short) are a form of storytelling or advertising which use audience (read: player) interaction to slowly unfold over time. These games offer a sense of normalcy in their opening acts — a sense that this is your usual slice of everyday media — before branching off into their stories and settling into the “alternate reality” in which they occur.
ARGs are typically released through a form of “mixed social media”, and their stories can at times be altered by player influence. The core mechanics of such games typically involve puzzle-solving, proficiency in navigating the internet, general skills in deduction, etc.; and the core “hook” is the mystery they present to any prospective players.
While I might save a more comprehensive look at the nature — and definition — of Alternate Reality Games for another day, it is time to explain why today is the day that The Corvid Review finally delves into the world of this brave new medium.
While many of us are enthusiasts of this new medium, we have suffered from a longstanding affliction when it comes to ARGs. And that affliction is: late arrival. We have almost always arrived far too late to these parties; and ARGs have a habit of happening “in the moment”, sometimes deleting months of content for various reasons. And this is why — despite our enthusiasm — the best we have ever been are historians of the art form (with one of two minor exceptions).
But this time; this time, we have arrived on time.
Yesterday, on the 17th of March, 2020 (a belated St Patrick’s to all of you), we were sent a link to quite an… interesting video. It wasn’t the sort of thing fit for our usual diet; however, there was much insistence that we take a closer look. Insistence that was well-merited.
With all that said, we invite you to join us as we introduce you to the glamorous — and “hectic” — world of:
I A M S O P H I E
Titled The NEW QUEEN Of YOUTUBE — Channel Trailer, the first video on the channel (the one sent to us) features a “young”, “popular”, and “talented” woman named Sophie, who is a “friend”, a “daughter”, and a “sister”. She’s got “crazy things”: “private jets”, “fast cars”, and “beautiful friends”; and yet, she needs to ask a question: is she being “real”? Is she being… herself?
All these definitions — all these adjectives — are delivered via narration by Sophie, who speaks about herself in the first person (after all, this is her vlog). And her narration is delivered against a backdrop of flash. Flash: Sophie; living a millionaire lifestyle, a lifestyle salted-and-peppered with Lamborghinis, Bombardier Global 6500s, and other luxury possessions (or hires). There are some extra lines thrown in — vague, pointless ruminations which become somewhat of a mainstay on the channel’s early videos — and the affair ends with a teaser for the “debut vlog” entry. It drips with glamour which could grain the teeth, it drips with glitter which could bruise the skin. If this was a curry, I’d be tipping it into a plate to rid my dinner of the grease — for fear it might stain my innards.
Upon watching this first video, some of you may be asking: why did I ever sit through this? To be honest, I didn’t; then again: the inisistence — so I continued. Video two (THE GUIDE to being YOUNG, RICH & POWERFUL) is much the same, with an excessive intro segment which even the number 1 can’t rid us of. It’s meant as a guide, yet only serves to drive home the fact that our dear new queen Sophie is a vapid, materialistic, ponced-up waste of space and time. She has a (supposedly) well-versed personal trainer who she continually interrupts, and thereafter ignores in favour of looking better while exercising her training; she has contributed to the security sector of private aviation by ensuring that her father’s jet has extra-strong seat belts; she tells us that she is smart and is a seasoned business woman; all of these things exist, and tell us that she is exactly what I described her to be.
There are other details. Her family consists of: a mysterious millionaire father, a “fit” mother (who’s “on fire”), and an equally-unseen sister. We hear a little about her videographer, Ben, but there’s little else to know about Sophie. And that’s by design. Everything has to be about Sophie — the brand.
Video three (YRP COLLECTION – AVAILABLE NOW) is a promo for Sophie’s “fashion brand” — a clothing line which has now been unfortunately been sold out. For those interested, here is a link to her store, and her Instagram (which she would very much love for you to follow), where her bio reads:
……..l i f e s t y l e
……..businesswoman + model + vlogger
All very “millenial” of her.
It’s in video four (RICH GIRL lives on £10 FOR A DAY (failed)) that this vapid, pointless waste of space begins to show glimpses of what else is going on in her “life”. The video is more of the too-rich-for-her-own-good lifestyle and vacuousness that we’ve come to expect from Sophie; but just before she jets off to Europe to get away from the “hectic england life” she leads for the evening, glitches begin to appear in her videos. Nothing extreme, but a distinct calling card, nonetheless.
Of course, it is all a parody. And so far, it’s technically sound. It’s annoying enough to rile even someone as cynical and dismissive as me. It’s moneyed enough to ensure future quality. And the acting — as strange as it is to say this — is good. But so far, it’s just that: a parody. It’s in video five (responding to leon lush…), in which she heads out for a night at a “super cheap” and “super normal” place that the ARG aspect of i am sophie begins to show its hand. The night out is more of the same, but the glitches continue, and this time turn into brief scenes from a horror movie.
And that is where I’m going to leave the overview of the series out. I won’t be covering videos six to eight, but I shall list out the names nonetheless so that those of you curious about this “case” realise how quickly this series is moving along. It has been just a little over a month since the channel began posting, and already, the names have gone into full ARG territory.
The names are:
- called my #1 super CRAZY fan!!
- reliarT lennahC – EBUTUOY fO NEEUQ WEN ehT
One thing I will point out before I stop this partial synopsis, however, is that this series has something special to it when it comes to ARGs of its genre. 2H32 and Daisy Brown are ARGs/webseries’ with quite the colourful cast of characters, and some of these characters have been known to upset people because of how disturbing their appearances are. Despite these disturbing predecessors, it’s been a while since we saw anything as horrifyingly menacing as the figure which appears in video seven of i am sophie. Of course, this is due to the production power of the ARG — which boasts a budget considerably superior to its peers — but also due to good direction. Harkening back to the likes of more famous ARG villains of yesteryear, every appearance of the “key grip” (thank you, chris_hype37) is handled with some panache.
We will address this — and other aspects of i am sophie — in our follow-up posts, but for now, I would like to draw attention to a name (who do not directly appear in the main content of the ARG) who we contend have a connection to this new web-experience.
Bobby Misner is a YouTuber, and now a former friend of iamsophiereal on Instagram. He’s of some ill-repute, but there are clear signals that he has a hand — however heavy or light — in the mystery that is this new ARG (compare the handwritten “HATE”, for instance). He either has money handed down to him by his father (like Sophie), or has substantial backing. He also has a certain experience with, and a stated interest in the world of film. If one were to stretch certain ideas showcased in i am sophie by only a little degree, it could be said that the Sophie character is a response to Misner’s reputation, or a creation of him. Not to mention that he once referenced the iamsophiereal account on Instagram while quoting “beautiful friends”. It’s also interesting to note that Misner himself has seemingly appeared out nowhere when it comes to social media.
Bobby also has a close relative who could also have a hand in this situation, but I shall leave all mention of this out until I have better evidence. There are other names which also surface (a particularly interesting one with the initials LM), but I hesitate to launch into such heavy handed speculation when the series has just turned its first trick. What is for sure is that i am sophie is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the modern ARG market.
As vapid as it might have been at the start, i am sophie has revealed itself to be quite a well-put-together production. Foreshadowing has occured and Chekov has hidden some weapons around the place. Characters have been both introduced and teased. A whole clothing line has sold out in less than a few hours and fake websites have been explored. There is much work to be done, starting with the ever-important “What the heck is even going on?”
Where the series is headed from here is anyone’s guess, but you can rest assured that the CRDoI is on the case. There is much to unpack, much to dive into, and no telling when i am sophie will post again. While i am sophie will not be the sole focus of the CDRoI’s investigative — or retrospective — efforts, the ARG will be the sole focus of our new content category up until it decides to take a rest (as these experiences often do).
For now, however, we wait.
We hope you enjoyed this first foray into the world of ARGs with us, and we hope to see you again soon. Until the next time, we recommend those of you so inclined to:
— Crow out.