ARGs themselves are digital narratives in the strictest sense, though linked texts are integral to some of them. More integral to the ARG phenomenon, though, are the communities that spring up around them. Those communities treat the games as hypertexts by picking them apart by looking at the games and their constituent puzzles multi-dimensionally, wandering through websites in cycles and following new paths as they open. The communities are also collaborating online and forming their own databases and working htexts for the purpose of solving the puzzles. When the games finish, someone in the community often creates a linear projection or slice of the whole thing, both game and solution effort, to make a "guide" that tells the story of the game experience. Sometimes there's another projection made for people who don't want spoilers.
Though ARGs might slide off of Douglas' strictest definition of hypertext, in a more practical sense they require and result in all of the behaviors I consider to be the pedagogic triumphs of hypertext: they :
- demand multidimensional consideration of data
- encourage "turning corners" in your thinking
- force awareness of the multilinearity of communities and conversations
- coach readers in the understanding and formation of linear narratives as 'projections' of multilinear experience
- explicitly demand cyclical reading and linking between narratives both personal and external
So perhaps ARGs are behaviorally hypertextual?