Rabbit Hole Invitations

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Cryptic invitations to start playing specific game instances.

While most games are easy to note as being games, some games deliberately try to hide their existence, at least to those not playing them. This can cause a problem with recruiting players, especially for those games that are staged professionally and intended to get the general public to participate in them. Rabbit Hole Invitations is a solution to this which posts cryptic messages in various types of media, and draws those that investigate these into the game.

See the paper Participant Roles in Socially Expanded Games[1] and the book Pervasive Games - Theory and Design[2] for more information on this and other types of invitations to games not clearly broadcasting themselves as games.


The initial invitation to play the Alternate Reality Game The Beast was three types of clues contained in trailers and posters related to the movie A.I. Likewise, the invitations to I Love Bees first came as hidden parts of trailers for the game Halo 2.

Using the pattern

Given its definition, Rabbit Hole Invitations make most sense to use for games with Alternate Reality Gameplay. In essence, they are Clues although ones that relates more to being able to start playing than on how to play. Since the success of a single Rabbit Hole Invitation can be difficult to judge in advance, they are typically used in groups spread out over time and types of media.

An alternative to Rabbit Hole Invitations is Fake Game Cancellations.

Interface Aspects

Rabbit Hole Invitations is an Interface Pattern.


Rabbit Hole Invitations is a way of inviting players to games with Alternate Reality Gameplay but these invitations typically require players to do some Puzzle Solving before actually being part of the gameplay. They are examples of Extra-Game Broadcasting and create Crossmedia Gameplay since they often make use of other mediums than the actual gameplay uses.


Can Instantiate

Crossmedia Gameplay, Extra-Game Broadcasting, Puzzle Solving

Can Modulate

Alternate Reality Gameplay

Can Be Instantiated By


Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With



New pattern created in this wiki.


  1. Montola, M. & Waern, A. (2006) Participant Roles in Socially Expanded Games. Presented at PerGames 2006.
  2. Montola, M., Stenros, J. & Waern, A. (2009) Pervasive Games - Theory and Design. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.