Las Vegas (Spring 2003)

Organized by Steve Peters and Sean C. Stacey

The very first ARGFest was a social gathering in Las Vegas, hot on the heels of The Beast and Lockjaw. A yearly tradition was started called FestQuest, a puzzle-filled scavenger hunt that ends at the night's dinner location. Steve Peters created this first FestQuest, which led attendees to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

Orlando (Autumn 2003)

Organized by Brooke Thompson and Sean C. Stacey

Not even a year had passed and another ARGFest was planned, this time in Orlando. The second annual FestQuest took place at Universal's CityWalk.

Vancouver (2004)


The third annual ARGFest took place in Vancouver in 2004. Like the previous ARGFests, this was a social gathering of friends in the ARG community.

New York City (2005)

Produced by Sharon Applegate

2005 was the year ARGFest grew to be more than a social gathering of Alternate Reality Gaming friends. For the first time, a full day of presentations and panels took place, including talks from some of the earliest ARG creators. Highlights included the Metacortechs team members discussing their experience making a large scale grassroots game, a talk from the minds behind Perplex City, and a panel from Audi's Art of the Heist creators. New York also marked the beginning of an ARGFest tradition--the ARG Museum!

Jane McGonigal gave the first ever ARGFest keynote speech, titled "There is No Such Thing as an ARG." She spoke about I Love Bees and what she believed was the meaning of the term ARG.

Chicago (2006)

Organized by Krystyn Wells

2006 was still during the early days of ARGs and ARGFest was still growing. To meet the needs of the small, yet devoted, community, the official conference was going to be a biennial event. To fill in the gap, many community members gathered in Chicago for a social gathering that included great food, theatre, and a group museum outing. Despite the small and more laid back atmosphere of the 2006 ARGFest, the ARG Museum still took place, albeit on a hotel bed!

San Francisco (2007)

Produced by Sharon Applegate and Dave Szulborski

It had been two years since the last conference-style ARGFest and there was plenty the community wanted to talk about. This year's panels largely focused on the actual process of making ARGs, as many community members were beginning to switch roles from players to puppetmasters. Panelists included Evan Jones, Adrian Hon, Brian Clark, Dave Szulborski, Jan Libby, Kristen Rutherford, and Miles Beckett and Greg Goodfried from the Lonelygirl15 team.

Sean Stewart and Elan Lee of 42 Entertainment gave the ARGFest keynote speech, titled "Play our Game! Trusting Strangers and Eating their Candy."

Boston (2008)

Produced by Marie Lamb and Sean C. Stacey

By 2008, ARGs and the community who loved them had grown quite a bit. The decision was made to make ARGFest an annual conference, rather than a biennial one. Panels and discussions covered extended media experiences, rules of engagement, international ARGs, and serious games. Elan Lee became the first ever Grand Inquisitor! Elan's job was to don an evil goatee and kickstart the Q&A sessions by asking the panelists and speakers the toughest of tough questions.

Dave Szulborski gave an emotional keynote speech about his love for storytelling, ARGs and the community, titled "The Story Inside: Making ARGs for Fun and Profit." This was Dave's final appearance.

Portland, Oregon (2009)

Produced by Sean C. Stacey and Jonathan Waite

In 2009, ARGFest took place in Portland, Oregon. The creative minds behind games such as Eldritch Errors, Maddison Atkins, Must Love Robots, Mazda's 33 Keys, Join the Pirates, and The Jejune Institute gathered to discuss ARGs in depth. The conference was dedicated to Dave Szulborski's memory and included a look back at his life and work.

Elan Lee passed the duty (and goatee) of the Grand Inquisitor on to Brian Clark of GMD Studios, who took his role quite seriously.

The keynote speech was given by game designer and founding member of Smith & Tinker and 42 Entertainment, Jordan Weisman. He shared his thoughts on transmedia entertainment and discussed his long career in various areas of the entertainment industry.

Atlanta (2010)

Produced by Brooke Thompson

In 2010, ARGFest broadened its scope and expanded to a four day event. Not only were there two full days of panels and presentations, but also hands-on creator workshops and a game festival. Highlights included Andrea Phillips' presentation, "Beyond the Brunette" and a retrospective on The Blair Witch Project with Mike Monello and Brian Clark. For the game festival, Studio Cypher premiered their game, "No Talent Required" and Awkward Hug held a make-your-own sock puppet session for Socks, Inc. Creator workshops included a transmedia writing workshop by Maureen McHugh and an ARG artifact workshop by Haley Moore and Michelle Senderhauf.

Steve Peters took on the role of Grand Inquisitor in 2010 but chose to use a Fez during his grilling of the panelists.

Maureen McHugh gave the provocative keynote speech, "ARGs are Dead," in front of large windows on the top floor of the W Hotel. As a storm rolled in behind her, it seemed as if Maureen could will lightning to strike at just the right moments in her speech.

Bloomington, Indiana (2011)

Produced by Jonathan Waite

In 2011, Indiana University Bloomington got its chance to host the 10th ARGFest conference. Highlights included a videocast talk from Lance Weiler, a retrospective on The Beast from Marie Lamb, Andrea Phillips, and Sean C. Stacey and panels discussing different uses for ARGs. Edward Castronova and Drew Davidson talked about ARGs in Education and David Varela and Sarah Smith-Robbins took on ARGs in Marketing.

Andrea Phillips was the Grand Inquisitor this year, bringing along brunette wigs for audience members to wear.

Bloomington's inspirational keynote speech, "Getting to Good," was given by the award-winning fiction writer, J.C. Hutchins.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada (2012)

Produced by Jonathan Waite

In 2012, ARGFest took place at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario. This year marked the 10th year of ARGFests. Panels and presentations covered topics such as the popularity of ARGs, the business aspects of creative projects and crowd sourcing storytelling. Jay Ferguson discussed his web series, Guidestones, and Robert Pratten showcased his Conducttr platform. Attendees were given a special sneak peek viewing of the documentary, "The Institute" by Spencer McCall.

Michael Anderson was 2012's Grand Inquisitor. He used his experience as the owner and senior editor at ARGNet to ask the hard-hitting questions. His Grand Inquisitor prop? A full wardrobe most likely from a really great thrift shop.

Evan Jones, Stitch Media partner and two-time Emmy Award® winner, gave a humorous and insightful keynote speech this year.

Seattle, Washington (2013)

Produced by Sean C. Stacey and Brian Kearsley

In 2013, the Alternate Reality and Transmedia community hit the Seattle Center campus for a weekend of fun! We started the conference with a presentation by Jeremy Irish about Geocaching around the world. We explored the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) Using Alternate Reality Environments to Help Enrich Research Efforts (UAREHERE) project. Everyone decided they wanted Mike Minadeo to be their 6th grade teacher as he discussed his year long, grade school targeted educational ARG United Colonies.

Our Grand Inquisitor in 2013 was Jonathan Waite, who brought a new twist to the job. Instead of costumes, he gave out Canadian themed prizes (for his home land) to those brave enough to ask a question.

Steve Peters gave a fantastic keynote presentation which documented his journey to professional puppet master, the ups and downs, the rewards and consequences, and his honest opinion that yes, it was worth every moment.