what is the index?
a constantly-updating directory of newly-produced and newly-discovered projects in the realm of
[a.k.a. "this is (not) a game" storytelling]
The Index categorizes mainly by genre and three categories of unfiction determined by a project's level of audience interaction needed to deliver a comprehensible story:
ARG (alternate reality game) - Interactive Project - Immersive Narrative
What is an ARG?
(Alternate Reality Game)
An ARG is a fictional experience taking place across the internet, physical locations, or both that uses a variety of platforms, media
and actors to deliver narrative material and opportunities to interact, but never acknowledges its fictional state
and needs audience interaction to deliver a story.
The audience assumes the tasks of uncovering or retrieving information, interacting with elements while staying "in-character," and advancing a narrative through their actions, all to reach a determined ending or state of completion that tells the story in
a comprehensible and satisfying way.
An ARG is a unique form of storytelling in the regard that it only makes complete sense if you played. In other words, it's the kind of story where "you had to be there," and the only way the story can be told to non-participants once it's over is through players, gamemasters
or reviewers who kept records, documentation, and timelines of events in order to assemble a comprehensible version of the story.
Only then could non-players who don't know first-hand players/creators understand the narrative and everything it involved.
The only exception is if the ARG in question is online with the majority of its media and elements still working and any live elements were
recorded for future audience members to review---in this case, a new player can arrive after an ARG went live or ended, but they must still go from point A to Z, interacting with the narrative and doing the "leg work" until they've experienced the story to a point of resolution.
[Remember: a game needs players, so if a project doesn't REQUIRE someone to play, it's not an ARG!]
ARG: You need to play (interaction needed)
Interactive Project: You can play (interaction optional)
Immersive Narrative: Just press 'play' (interaction not needed)
how the index works
The Index contains seven main genres: horror, mystery, psych, humor, drama, puzzle, other
When visiting any main genre page, you'll be treated to Index Cards presenting a new project
Preview Image: a snapshot of the content or appropriate image for the project
Title: usually the exact title of the project (if provided, and if it fits)--otherwise, a descriptive headline for the project followed by the real title in the Short Description area
Date & Time: the date and time an Index Card is created--don't mistake this for the creation/discovery date & time of the project in the card, that will most likely go in the expanded "Read More" area
Short Description: the short description of a project will be seen here, giving you a general idea of what you'd be dealing with; find more explanation and even story updates via "Read More"
Gate: a link to the main platform of the content (if there is one)--otherwise, a link to the most prominent trailhead (a.k.a. start point) for the experience
Tags: similar to tag systems used elsewhere, this will provide important keywords about the project
The Wyoming Incident is an ARG in the Horror genre. Due to strong mystery and puzzle themes, it's classified as horror-mystery-puzzle.
As an experience that absolutely required player interaction and involvement during the story to evolve, this is an ARG.
Likewise, post-game viewers would need to do "legwork" or interactive work of their own to piece together the story.
Because it took place across the internet with no true central hub to keep track of storytelling from beginning to end
it is classified as multi-platform.
(Even with major activity in one area (the Happy Cube forums), a "catchup" would be needed to understand the events
so far even after finding or joining the major activity area)
Extra information about the contents of the story of the story has been provided, like "possession" and "found footage."
submitting to the index
To submit a project (or suspected project) to the index, whether it's one you've discovered or
your own project, send an email to email@example.com according to the following criteria:
+ Begin the subject (title of email) with the main genre of the project in parentheses. For instance, if it's a horror project, begin the email title like this: (HORROR) Then, of course, provide the title of the project or something to describe it!
+ The project's trailhead (first published part of story) must be AT LEAST ONE WEEK OLD and there must be AT LEAST TWO INSTALLMENTS OF STORY CONTENT
"What does this mean?"
If you're running a YouTube-based series, you need at least two uploads, and that first upload
should be up for at least a week before submission to the Index.
If you're running an ARG, your trailhead should be at least a week old and whatever your
next step or bit of story delivery is needs to be live.
There may be exceptions to these rules, but they are not likely. At the very least, there is no true
exception to the one-week rule. You cannot, under any circumstances, submit a project you just
launched that day. Give it a week and continue working on your project, then submit to the index.
The Golden Rule: If there is no path already available for a viewer to follow the project or
narrative beyond the first step you've provided, you are not ready to submit.
Give someone more than one video, post, or tweet to look at.
+ In the email, describe what you've found (if it's a discovery); if you're the creator, provide a short description of the project you've made and what it's going to entail for audiences
+ Provide a link to the trailhead (first published part of story) or a link to the early portion you discovered
as well as links to other portions of uncovered or published so far; build me a small report if you can
+ If you're submitting a discovery, don't worry about tags, as long as you're providing all necessary links
to follow along as well as links to project discussion areas you know about (reddits, discords); if you're the creator, submit the tags for the genre, unfiction category, and base (or designate it as multi-plat) and offer content tags I can provide if you'd like viewers to see those
+ If you're the creator and would like to submit your own preview image, the dimensions are 294x186 pixels (294 wide, 186 high); attach it or make it in-line in the email
+ Study the Index Card and expanded "Read More" page as an example of the kind of information that would help fill out a solid entry in the Index for your submission; the more info I have, the better
+ Always keep in mind that the Index, for those who enjoy unfiction, is both a catalog and a taste test--the more content you have for a project by the time it's submitted, the higher your chances of someone
exploring more and following/joining the experience or sharing with a friend, etc.
+ If you're going to have more content and a deeper hook for audiences by the end of one month, rather than just one week, submit your project after the first month and you'll probably get much better results; this also provides more information that can be logged in the expanded "Read More" form, filling in audiences more and, again, giving your project a higher chance of viewer commitment
+ If you're submitting something you've discovered, rather than something you've made, find an existing community that discusses and follows that project so you can all keep up to date, keep records, fill in new members, and show the creator(s) of a project that you love what they're doing and want them to continue
If a community doesn't exist yet, why not be the one to make it? You can even start with an r/ARG thread.
"Why can't I submit directly to the website to get into the Index?"
The first answer is, simply, formatting. I need to be able to get all the information into the index card format (especially the expanded record) and keep it consistently updated and uniform across the whole site. The second answer is that an open submissions form of the site is vulnerable to security breaches, abuse, project spamming
and jokes that derail the entire purpose of the Index. Open submissions could subject the whole enterprise to misconduct and misuse.
"Do I have to tell people on my index card that it was a creator-submitted project?"
Nope! This is part of the formatting needs mentioned above; by keeping a solid format throughout the Index, you won't be able to tell easily which projects are discoveries and which are creator submissions, which takes away any discrimination or inherent bias against creator submissions.
(Waiting for a tactful time past the one-week rule to submit also makes it even harder for people to detect whether your project was creator-submitted, since more time has passed for it to be a genuine discovery.)
"Will I be able to see which projects are doing really well or becoming popular?"
The only metrics of notoriety or popularity you will ever see for a project will come from subscriber, follower
or view numbers on platforms used in any particular project.
The Index seeks to never present a popularity measure in its listings. No favorites, no rankings, no ratings, no numbers. When we rely purely on numbers as indication of quality or value for art, especially online, we dismiss the efforts and sincerity of the artist and rob ourselves of experiences we may greatly enjoy having overlooked them in lieu of something more popular that, in the end, may not fulfill, entertain, inspire or enrich nearly as much as a "small" project or experience.
The Index encourages the same attitude for viewers that it encourages for creators: approach the world of creativity and imagination with the same excitement and open-minded nature of a child, engaging curiosity influenced not by numbers, but by the most sincere desire for an experience that is presented.
"What if the project I submit doesn't fit the submission rules because of something I need to ask about?"
Then feel free to send the email and ask me, explaining the point of confusion or the situation. We'll talk it through. I anticipate there will be plenty of situations where questions will be asked about things I haven't
covered here, so never feel hesitant to ask me. This is just that kind of field, after all!
"Okay, but what if I made my INDEX CARD a PART of my project! Wouldn't that be cool?"
I'm glad you asked! Because the answer is NO!
In order to keep the Index firmly in its nature, it needs to function as an independent, no-immersion zone where all things unfiction are presented in their off-stage context without any inclination to play in-character or in-universe. That means the website absolutely cannot have its atmosphere disrupted by any attempts to use it as
part of a storyline or experience. I wouldn't even appreciate attempts to have characters in a project acknowledge the existence of an Index card in the course of their story.
The Index is here to establish that your project is unfiction and present it to the world as an experience audiences can engage in once they follow the link. Index cards are gateways, not parts of the project they show.
(And, let's be honest--as original as the idea may seem, there are most likely ten other people who were thinking about it right up until reading this section. You can be incredibly clever outside the Index, but not by incorporating it.)
"I like covering and reviewing unfiction and ARGs, too. Can I use information from the Index for my own coverage?"
Absolutely, positively yes. When coverage of the field expands, the creators within it succeed and audiences who love and support it thrive, and that's what the Index is here for.
My only request is that you credit the Night Mind Index as the discovery source--you don't even need to credit me (Nick Nocturne). Credit and links given to the NM Index supports further discovery of content for audiences, other content broadcasters, and new project creators who will have an outlet to advertise or acknowledge their work.
"Will inclusion on the Index mean I could get covered on Night Mind?"
Coverage on Night Mind is open to any projects that attract me for coverage, whether they're in the Index or not.
I can say that I would very much like to have regular "roundup" videos of new projects that have been added to
the Index, granting viewers a preview of new and live content while providing a glimpse of the discovery opportunity that's widely available through the site.
"Does a project being in the Index increase chances of coverage on Night Mind?"
Beyond making it easier for me to find out that project exists? No.
"Is there a way I can help the Index stay online or grow?"
There are actually three! When it comes to helping the Index stay online and grow, one of the best ways you can do both is by supporting the Night Mind Patreon. This website itself is a direct result of the Patreon's existence and its members' support of Night Mind and related endeavors. Even just $2 a month is quite helpful!
You can help growth by contributing findings for unfiction projects to the Index and joining the field by making your own! This is still quite a new form of storytelling and art, and the more who join and share, the merrier!
Finally, you can contribute growth purely by sharing the site and continuing to visit and find new projects and experiences to enjoy.
"Are there other sites online dedicated to unfiction?"
Absolutely! You can find full details on these sites via the Archive page, but here are a few you can visit now:
"Just how much longer do you plan on making this page?"
Unless I get more questions that can be answered here to help site visitors, this is the end. Enjoy the Index!