Scotoma (2016) is an Alternate Reality Game that is played via the Internet. The player investigates the fate of a missing woman. To find out about her, the player has to follow clues and solve puzzles that are hidden in a multitude of different online media: websites, blogs, videos, photos and GPS-data.
We kept the game online and running from 2016 to 2017. Working on an Alternate Reality Game was an awesome experience & I learned a lot about multimedia storytelling.
I worked on this game as a game designer and writer.

Genre: Alternate Reality Game
Platform: Browser
Media used: E-mail, Tumblr, Websites, Photos, Videos, .gifs
Team Size: 5
Production time: 7 weeks
Runtime: 2016-2017

I worked on the following features:
• Overall game concept and storyboarding
• Defining the main player actions and type of interactive media to be used
• Puzzle design

Design tools I used:
• Scribus for mock-ups of websites
• MindMup for storyboarding
• Adobe Acrobat for making an offline prototype as PDF documents with hyperlinks

Above: An example of how I worked on the gameplay mechanics: by first finding the core players actions with different type of media (written, image, audio), I developed the core game-loop that would connect all these actions to then lastly design the first levels of gameplay around it.

Above: The final story overview contained three different paths to the endgoal of the game: finding the whereabouts of three missing persons.

Writing & Content Creation:
One of the big parts of any ARG design is writing loads of fictional content that poses as being “real”. I took over the following areas of writing and content creation:
• E-mails from NPCs to the player
• Tumblr blogs and posts by NPCs
• Fictional newspaper articles, police reports, reader comments and tweets that give hints how to proceed

Above: Three examples of fictional content used in this game: an e-mail that the player receives after signing up for the game, a “conspiracy website” containing the first hint, a Tumblr blog by one of the main game characters (including a conversation with another NPC)
Artwork by Sarah Engelhardt and Hans Reitemeyer

We used .gif-files seamlessly hidden in websites to suddenly change the appearance of articles.

The final puzzle requires the player to find three missing symbols connected to the three storylines.


Summary: Scotoma is an Alternate Reality Game which is played using the Internet. After receiving a call for help via e-mail, the player starts investigating the Web, looking for traces of a missing woman, Adriana, who supposedly has been abducted by Aliens. The player slowly finds out that a human trafficking organization is behind the alleged supernatural story. The player’s goal is to find the location of Adriana by exploring and researching websites, search engines, text files, video, photos, GPS data and various other media. The game blends different types of media into an unsettling and suspenseful psychological experience about the serious real-world issue of human trafficking.

Diana Alves: Programming
Patricia Cotrim: Design & Writing
Sarah Engelhardt: Art
Andreas Gefken: Design & Writing
Hans Reitemeyer: Art

Cologne Game Lab – BA 2 Project
Narrative Design, Writing, Game Design
Platform: Browser